It’s been a long time since there was so much audience participation in a local meeting. The audience felt like they were being educated with the economic education that had built America as a capitalist nation, a nation where people were free to pursue their dreams of economic and religious liberty
This is a presentation the Cherokee County School Board should consider presenting to every senior class before graduation so they would have some inkling of the real world of economics before stepping off that graduation stage at First Baptist of Woodstock every May.
But this meeting also reminded me that the philosophical and political divide in America is growing larger, with each political party digging in their heels and refusing to budge, believing their political philosophies are what’s best for their constituents, “we the American people.” What is needed is a workable compromise to a higher goal than either party is willing to make now.
One side supports an all-powerful government that takes care of people from “cradle to the grave” without requiring them to be responsible for their behaviors — while holding attitudes that “the government owes them.” Historically this attitude has led to tyrannical forms of government where no one is free as America has known freedom since 1789, the year George Washington declared America a Covenant Nation by taking the Oath of Office as the first President of the United States with his left hand resting on his Bible and then adding these four words to the Oath of Office —“So help me God.”
The other side of this philosophical divide claims they still believe they are the party of Lincoln whose philosophy was best symbolized by these words attributed to Lincoln: “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”
However, both major political parties face major challenges today. Growing numbers wonder if elected officials when they take their Oath of Office are crossing their fingers behind their backs when they take their Oath, an Oath of Office similar to what the president of the United States takes: that he/she “will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
America has risen to heights of greatness when faced with major challenges before. It did so when the Founders declared their independence from England; in finding the right compromises leading to the creation of the Constitution of the United States; adding America’s Bill of Rights when three men refused to sign the Constitution because they believed the Constitution did not protect those freedoms they had fought for during the Revolutionary War; and in holding a nation together after the Civil War.
But in many ways it has been America’s Bill of Rights that have provided “we Americans” more protections from would-be-tyrants than the Constitution itself. These 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States have been powerful allies to mankind’s freedoms for 223 years.
Among the protections provided by the First Amendment is the right to “peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Where would the Civil Rights Movement have gone without this protection to assemble and to petition the government to right perceived wrongs?
Today, tea party patriots believe that their issues of government run health care, cap and trade environmental taxation, increasing taxes disproportionately and unionization without secret ballots are of equal importance as were the Civil Rights issues of the sixties — with some believing that if the current administration is successful in “fundamentally changing America,” as Obama declared in 2009, their policies will actually lead to the destruction of the Constitution, that document that was created to make man free.
Learning about America’s economic history was both timely and educational.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.