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WHAT IS MISSING? 15 Jan. 2016 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

What is Missing?

15 Jan. 2016

Dear Friends and Patriots,

          Something’s missing.  You know it and I know it.  Something’s missing and it’s screwing us all up.  I know what it is.  I know what’s screwing us all up.  I don’t know how to fix it, but agreeing on what’s wrong is the first step to resolving any problem.  It’s sort of like a 12-Step Program.  The first step is to admit the problem.  On this point we should all agree.

          To make my case, I refer to former President Thomas Jefferson.  He needs no introduction.  People tend to quote him all the time, don’t they?  Allow me to get in that queue and do my own quoting.  Here’s three examples, which I’ll use as references in my elaboration:

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization,
it expects what never was and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson to
Charles Yancey, 1816.

"Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their
own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a
certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a
short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be
informed to a certain degree." -Thomas Jefferson to Littleton
Waller Tazewell, 1805.

"And say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to
the government or information to the people. This last is the most
certain and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and
inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is
their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve
them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince
them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of
our liberty." -Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1787.

          Okay, now that you’ve had time to memorize those quotes, we need to divine what old T.J. was saying.  It’s simple, really.

          Jefferson’s words and sentiments have been translated into concise expressions many times.  Here’s my own:  To maintain our republic requires a well-educated and well-informed citizenry.  Do you agree that I’ve captured Jefferson’s intent?  If you do, do you agree with the ideas he’s expressing?

          Now, I want to quote another great man, an Austrian who fled the Germans in 1940 to come to the US. He lived in New York City until his death in 1973.  Ludwig Von Mises was one of the premier philosophers of the Austrian School of economics.  He may have been an economist, but he was one heck of a perceptive guy in all other ways, too.  This is what he had to say that I want to delve into:

 

“The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they
recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of
routine and by a resistance ...to every kind of improvement. They
call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty.
They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship.
They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the
government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden
of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post
office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau.”
                                                        -- Ludwig von Mises

 

          It would seem the statements of Jefferson and von Mises are disparate.  You might think there’s absolutely nothing to link them together at all.  If you’re one who’s inclined to think that, you’re wrong.  The linkage is solidly tied to Marxist educational dogma, as translated by progressive social policies.  If you want to know exactly how that works, try Googling “dumbing down of America” and start learning.  Then, check out the works of Dr. John Dewey, whose principle influence on education was in the implementation of his idea that education be contrived to serve social purposes.

          Jefferson correctly understood that citizens require a certain level of knowledge and education to participate responsibly in the political process of the nation.  Keep in mind in the earliest days of our republic most states only allowed male property owners to vote.  Eligibility rules were not defined in the US Constitution, but at the state and local levels.  It’s generally true the prevailing wisdom and rules were contrived to ensure those with “sufficient” skin in the game could vote, while most other citizens were excluded.    Over time the rules changed.  Today, thanks to many decades of progressive policy changes, we have universal suffrage.  With few exceptions almost every adult citizen can vote.  All they have to do is register and show up.  They don’t have to provide proof they can read and write.  They don’t even have to prove they know who the candidates are or what issues are in play.  They just show up and exercise their right.

          Progressives understand their path to ultimate power is paved by dependence and ignorance.  The architects of The New Deal, the Great Society and other major social programs understood very well their future power base would lie within the communities they were creating; communities of those with infinite wants but purposefully limited means.  Today we see the realization of all those decades of progressive efforts, and our own decades of inattention and sloth.

          Jefferson correctly defined the requirements to sustain our republic.  The electorate must be sufficiently educated to comprehend issues of the day, and they must keep up with current events and national policy debates.  If the ignorant and intellectually lazy among us vote in the greater numbers, what kind guarantees do we have?  That answer is easy – we have none.  Progressives know it, too.

          Von Mises told us exactly who the progressives are and what they want.  If we are to stop their takeover of America we have to re-think our society and come to grips with a better, fuller understanding of the entire voting process.  It seems unlikely we’ll ever return to the day when only property owners have the right to vote.  That fact implies we must find creative ways to educate our citizenry to give them the essential knowledge they need to be responsible voters.   Even more, we have to find ways to ensure their knowledge of current events doesn’t take a back seat to sports, movies, TV, and the latest fashion fads. 

          If Tea Parties have a natural mission, this is it!  How we accomplish the mission is something that will require a lot of study and debate.  We don’t have time to do much for 2016, but if we are as smart as we like to think we are, we’ll make this one our key areas of focus from now on.  We tend to focus on pending legislation and fighting the state and federal bureaucracies, while one of the major enablers of the progressive takeover of our government is left unattended. 

So, what’s missing?  Our understanding of the key to breaking the march of progressivism is what’s missing.  If we clue in and accept this as fact, we will be compelled to re-think a lot of what we do.  If we don’t, the 47% of votes the progressives depend on in elections will only grow.  If we start to chip away at that 47%, perhaps we can peel away enough support to start turning the game back our way.  It’s not enough just to win elections in 2016.  We have to guarantee future wins.  We can’t do that if we don’t understand and counter the factors that make our problem so severe.

I recommend all Tea Parties think about the longer term.  It’s great to meet and agree on annual priorities and execution strategies.  But, to a great extent that’s mostly short-term tactical execution, not strategy formulation.  What we need is to focus on a strategy for the long haul and start working to counter the enabling factors of the progressive movement.

Prune a tree and you may slow its growth.  Sever the roots of the tree and the tree will surely die.  We need a strategy to kill progressivism.  My thought is to start with educating the public so they can meet Jefferson’s idea of a responsible voter.

In Liberty,
Steve