Press Release: Reviving the Spirit of '76
Op Ed: Reviving the Spirit of '76
"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -Thomas Jefferson
by R. Lee Wrights
BURNET, Texas (July 2) - Several years ago I wrote an article entitled "Is the Spirit of '76 dead?" My concern then was that the revolutionary fire that once burned hot in the hearts of Americans had been reduced to a smoldering ember. I was afraid that we had lost the necessary desire to question authority. It appeared to me that Americans had been such poor caretakers that the tree of liberty was wilting, its boughs sagging dangerously close to the ground.
This was still on my mind one year ago on July 4 when I began this campaign for the Libertarian nomination for President of the United States. Our nation has been dragged into a perpetual state of deadly and costly war. Our leaders have manipulated every real or perceived threat to instill fear in Americans. Then, they use this fear they have created to divide us and, worst of all, con us into surrendering more and more of our liberty for the vain and empty promise that they will somehow procure our security for us.
This weekend we will inevitably hear pious proclamations and political pronouncements from prominent figures in the ruling class praising the wisdom and foresight of our Founding Fathers. Undoubtedly, many will repeat the words written by Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." But their recitation of these immortal words will be hollow, bereft of any wisdom or understanding. They'll probably gloss over, if they mention it at all, the rest of that paragraph: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."
"Just powers" and "consent of the governed" are phrases and concepts modern-day rulers don't want you to understand, and probably don't understand or believe themselves. Few politicians will tell you that Jefferson and the Founders were revolutionaries and that the Declaration of Independence was the written expression and explanation of revolutionary ideas. When the delegates to the Continental Congress issued this unanimous proclamation, they knew it wasn't just an exercise in semantics. The Founders knew these words spoke the beginning of a long and bloody struggle to free themselves from tyranny.
Make no mistake, this Declaration was not drawn up casually or without due consideration of the causes and consequences of the action. The leaders of the American Revolution understood that people are naturally inclined to leave things as they are, willing to endure many hardships and much suffering for as long as possible before taking action against oppression. "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed," Jefferson so eloquently wrote.
But the Founders also understood that there was a point at which people not only had the right – they had the duty – to change things and to fight if necessary: "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." When Jefferson penned these words he wasn't talking about holding elections.
James Bovard wrote in “Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty,” “Americans need to remember their constitutional birthright and stand up to arrogant government officials who treat them like subjects rather than citizens.” Mr. Bovard is telling us something we must never forget. Citizens of the United States, each individually, are the caretakers for those precious American siblings – Liberty and Freedom.
As I've traveled around the country this past year visiting libertarian groups, I've been encouraged to discover that the Spirit of '76 has not been entirely extinguished. While it's still being smothered by the apathy of many Americans, and arrogant elected officials are still attempting to stamp out its flame, the fire is still alive, cared for and nurtured by a small but growing group of freedom-lovers. This campaign can be a catalyst to rekindle the Spirit of '76 and set a brush fire in the hearts and minds of all Americans that will engulf and destroy the tyranny and oppression brought to our land under the guise of fighting foreign and domestic enemies.
On this Fourth of July I urge everyone to read the Declaration of Independence aloud to your children, your grandchildren, and your friend's children and grandchildren. Tell them that the Fourth of July is more than just a time for going to the beach, eating hot dogs and watching fireworks. Teach these future caretakers of American freedom that it's about honoring the vision and sacrifice of those who gave their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" so that we might be free by not allowing the flame of liberty die.
R. Lee Wrights, 53, a libertarian writer and political activist, is seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. To that end he has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states. Wrights is a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party and co-founder and editor of of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., he now lives and works in Texas.