You Say You Want A Revolution

January 9, 2011
/ Author: Rick

This is the third post I’ve written since Friday morning. This post, I hope, I will put up; the other two may never see the light of day, although I am re-working one and will probably post it.

Intervening between Friday morning’s “inspiration” and the time of this writing is the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

Before I start — and because I don’t myself know where this post is going yet, although I do know roughly what I want to say — let me do the usual disclaimer for potential nutcases who are so far left, or right, that they will only read part of my message, take it, and run off at the keyboard (or mouth, for those who know how to find me) criticizing me for a view I almost certainly won’t even hold.

The disclaimer is this: No sane person wants people to die.

I am, believe it or not, a sane person. I do not want people to die.

I say this because I’ve written — and said — some provocative and even vitriolic things. Some people will consider a bit of what I say here, today, to be provocative, as well. People who either never read any other article of mine but this one will think, because I’m going to explain something rather than spit out a soundbite, that I’m in favor of violence in response to abuses by our government against its own people.

That is not true. Or maybe I have to be intellectually honest and say that I do not believe it is true, or that it is not quite true, or something along those lines.

I’ve written about that at greater length before, so I won’t go into it all again.

You see, right now, at this point in time, I absolutely do not favor violence in response to abuses by our government against its own people.

But I do believe it is sometimes a necessary response.

And I am not alone. And I do not mean because I am in the good company of idiots like Jared Lee Loughner.

When I say that I am not alone in thinking sometimes violence is a necessary response to our own government, I am referring to the Founders of the United States of America. We may not like to think about it, but if they had not violently responded to what was then “our government,” the United States of America would not exist today; would never have existed.

But the words and actions of the Founders are instructive for us today not because they violently overthrew the government in place at the time. Or maybe not “just because.”

The Founders did not arbitrarily attack. They did not suddenly come of age and say, “Today would be a good day to kill government officials.” It was something which developed over time — in fact, it was many years in the making.

During that time, the Founders tried. They tried hard to work within the government, to right the wrongs being done against them, to entreat both the government and their fellow countrymen, to change things through then-legal means.

When they realized there was no longer any hope of this happening, then they began to take to the path of violent resistance. Even then, there was something of a slow burn. They took to the path of violence with great reluctance.

How do I know this?

The answer is simple and it is available to every American to see; it is a national treasure. It is the Declaration of Independence.

The Founders declared quite clearly that they did what they did, first of all, only when it became necessary. They told the world, and posterity (that’s us), that they felt they owed an explanation for what they were doing.

…a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The arbitrary “targeting” — is that now a loaded (oh crap!) word, or what? — of individual representatives of the government by madmen unhinged by Faux News commentators’ drumbeat of raucous and rotten rhetoric is not a Revolution. It is the senseless violence of criminals and their ethically-challenged sponsors, such as Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin who, frankly, bear every bit as much guilt.

You say you want a Revolution, you need to be clear what you say, what you mean, and why you want it. We all want to change the world. You say you’ve got a real solution? Well, you know…we’d all love to see the plan.

If all you want to talk about is destruction, you can count me out.

Ditto when you say you want to change the Constitution.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned it was my third attempt to write about something since Friday morning.  Even before the Giffords shooting, I couldn’t finish the posts because I knew I needed to dial back on the rhetoric. That seems even more important now.

But there is a danger — yes, there really is — in dialing back the rhetoric.

Dialed-back rhetoric can be just another form of Orwellian Newspeak. The thing I’ve been trying to write about since Friday morning is important (which is why I’ll keep trying and hopefully post something soon) and the problems it brings to light have been infecting our Nation for a couple decades, at least. Dial back the rhetoric too far and the message can be lost. If there’s a fire in the theater, you don’t turn to the person next to you and say, “I think it might be getting a little warm in here.”

What a lot of people want — what I want — is to see the Constitution — not changed, and not just read, but followed. I want a government that recognizes that the ideals delineated in the Constitution have allowed this Nation — once-great — to survive for two-and-one-quarter centuries now. The recent reading of the Constitution by Congress is a good start. Reading the Constitution is something we should all do.


One of the things you’ll learn if you read the Constitution is that the government is supposed to have certain limited powers. The government is not — to use a phrase Bunny Chafowitz loves — “the be all and the end all.” It serves a particular purpose, which is mentioned in the Preamble. And it is supposed to have only so much power as it needs to accomplish those ends.

Over the years, our government has moved more and more in the direction of a police state. Some people don’t like that phrase. If they get the gist of what I’m saying, they might prefer “nanny state.” The truth is, though, that you can’t have a nanny state without having a police state. Someone has to enforce the decisions of the nanny. Otherwise, those of us who feel no need for a nanny won’t fund one, won’t do what the nanny says we must; the nanny will be nothing more than a blathering nanny-goat. Others — even those who like nannies — will abuse the nanny.

But as government becomes larger, requires more resources in the form of taxes, places more requirements on us and necessarily restricts more of our freedoms, the only means to maintain domestic tranquility is to control those of us who disagree with living under an increasingly powerful and increasingly arbitrary nanny.

Where there is more freedom, and a recognition that individuals should be free, so long as they don’t physically harm others, there will be more domestic tranquility. It does require that we each learn to respect the other. My exercise of my freedoms needs to be done in a way that impinges as little as possible upon your exercise of your freedoms.

In this, it will be impossible to reach perfection. There will always be people who think that in order for them to exercise their freedoms, others must not exercise theirs. Sometimes they are right. If you want to exercise your freedom to take whatever you want, whenever you want, without considering to whom it may belong, that is a freedom the rest of us really aren’t going to allow you to exercise. Your exercise of your freedom in that manner impinges our freedom to build good lives for ourselves, to own property without being molested.

It is for such things that we need police.

Sometimes people think that the only way they can exercise their freedom — say, to define marriage — is to prevent others from exercising their freedom to define marriage in a different way.

And so we see that when people think that in order to exercise their freedoms, others must not, they are sometimes wrong.

Right now, in the United States of America, our government has become overgrown…and overblown. This does not ensure domestic Tranquility; it sows domestic Discord. It certainly does not provide us with increasing Liberty.

We cannot ignore this.

The purpose of increasing government, of the growth of our legal system, is control. The United States of America was not founded to control. The United States of America was a government to provide minimal coordination, to draw the several States closer and allow a coordinated, more perfect, Union. Control — power — is a corrupting influence.

Our Founders knew this and deliberately distributed power amongst the three branches of Government they proposed in the Constitution.

It’s a lousy model for coordinating a single powerful entity, like, say, a corporation. It makes it quite difficult if you want to administer very resource-intensive programs.

But it’s a great model for maximizing individual freedom, creating a vehicle where government rules by consensus, and for ensuring that no one group of people should be able to gain so much power over the others as to leave them feeling disenfranchised.

We should value the kind of government which is big enough to defend us from enemies, domestic and foreign, but small enough that there is no significant power in the hands of the few which can be used to oppress us, to disenfranchise us.

Because when enough sane people begin to feel disenfranchised, well, don’t you know you’re talking about a Revolution?

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  1. ‘This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”
    -Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address

  2. ‘This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.”
    -Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address

  3. gloria h/fresno says:

    reminder that Berkeley copwatch will be at the Fresno Library on Jan 15 from 11:30am to 3:30 pm training local copwatchers!

  4. gloria h/fresno says:

    reminder that Berkeley copwatch will be at the Fresno Library on Jan 15 from 11:30am to 3:30 pm training local copwatchers!

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