Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The first American Revolution was fought over the simple principle of self-governance. For over 150 years, approximately five generations, the British Crown had practiced “benign neglect” towards the colonies, and the people of America had governed themselves. However, by the mid-1760s, England was asserting control over the colonies and their residents.
The situation came to a boil with the Declaratory Act of 1766. The act was intended to put the colonists on notice, in no uncertain terms, that Parliament was in control and did not need to consult the colonists.
To its credit, and unlike our statutes today, the Declaratory Act was unambiguous and stated that Parliament “had hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statues of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America…in all cases whatsoever.” It’s important to note that the colonists had no representation in Parliament.
Today, we see our politicians enacting laws that infringe on our basic liberties and our ability to govern ourselves at the local and state level as well as in our private lives. They regulate our births, our deaths and everything in between. The government has inserted itself in every commercial transaction via regulation of business and personal behavior and through the power of taxation.
Each time the government tells us what we can or cannot do, it infringes on our liberties. We rightly tolerate a measure of this intrusion to live in a civil society. But how much is too much? Apparently, most of us believe that line has been crossed.
Much like the plight of the original American colonists, the impingement of our liberties is done without our consent or permission. Though we elect representatives, a full 60% of voters today say that the federal government lacks the consent of the governed.
Our elected representatives regularly say things that ring with the same disconnected arrogance the colonists heard in the Declaratory Act. “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it” is among the most outrageous. But this arrogance runs throughout the political class in our country and is not limited to one party.
In 1766, this type of arrogance started the American Revolution, and today it has started the Second American Revolution. We see the revolution brewing in the form of the Tea Party movement which for over four years now has been pushing back mightily against a government run amok. We saw it in the Occupy movement which was pushing back against crony capitalism (also a target for the Tea Party). We see it in the polling on issue after issue, indicating that the government is out of step with the majority of Americans.
The political class would do well to heed their own history. This nation was born of the idea that the people can, and rightly should, govern themselves. When the representatives of the people regularly pass and impose laws, rules and regulations which the people do not support, our history tells us that it is time to remove and reform the government. When repeated elections fail to accomplish that goal, the people have a history of doing it through other means.
Luckily, the colonists who fought and died for a free United States based on the principle of self-governance gave us a Constitution which gives us methods to restore liberty without bloodshed. Today, we must use all of them if the flame of liberty is not to be extinguished by a political class out of touch with the citizens.
The fight for liberty and self-governance is part of our historical heritage. We fought for them in 1776 when we declared our independence and officially began the American Revolution. We fight for them today as we participate in what will ultimately be known in the history books as the Second American Revolution.
Mark Meckler is the president of Citizens for Self-Governance.
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.
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