The American Way of Life (Part 24 of 28)

Part 24: of a 28-part series

We just want to follow the money – our money. It’s kept pretty close to the fact where local affairs are concerned. And in this there’s a political trade of no small government. We’re not politically trained. We used to be politically trained. We need to be. We need to reason politically, or (as I call it) reason governmentally. This is basic to all, whether we are on the left or right. There are principles of good policy.

We want to remind ourselves that bad people can make good policy, and good people can make bad policy. In the kind of discussion which it provokes, [there’s] the necessity of facing argument with argument, and keeping one’s temper under control. That’s wonderful training, isn’t it? Now that’s real political training. The town meeting is the best political training school in existence.

[There was] a period of earnest and sometimes stormy discussion that ushered in the Revolutionary War. Our Revolutionary War did not come as an explosion. It came after over 10 years of debate among 13 separate colonies, until they could not come to any other conclusion than that independence was their only hope from slavery, from tyranny.

In those days great principles of government were discussed. We need to discuss those principles of government again. “We base all our experience on the capacity of mankind for self-government” (James Madison). And so, we gave the power we delegate to representatives. They are specific. They have a specific job description. And we divide it so we can keep the state separate from the nation. There’s what the nation does, which is very general and minimal, and we keep the rest for ourselves. We keep our internal business to ourselves. We mind our own business. And we don’t let anyone else mind our own business. It’s none of their business, that’s why. It’s not their business.

To be continued...

The American Way of Life (Part 23 of 28)

Part 23: of a 28-part series

Within its proper sphere, government by town meeting is the form of government most effectively under our control. You can see [more clearly] locally. And it is more transparent to observe a key oversight of the local rulers. That’s where we need to begin. That’s where they did begin. When they could watch and observe what happened locally among themselves, from those of themselves, then they could reason into the next sphere, into the larger spheres.

And that’s the idea. Anyone who disapproves of any of these objects, or the way in which it is proposed to be obtained, has an opportunity to declare his opinions. We don’t even know how to articulate an opinion. We don’t even have an opinion to articulate. Help us, Lord, help us.

This comes through exercise, through training. We have to be trained to do this. It’s not that we’re apathetic. We’re just stupid. We’re dumb. I refer especially to the delusion that the government is a sort of mysterious power. See, we think of it as some hard thing out there, when it’s most immediate. If we know how to do the immediate, it is not so hard out there. [We see government as a] sort of mysterious power, a sense of a magical and inexhaustive fund of wealth, able to do all manner of things for the benefit of the people. Some such notion as this…is inexpressibly dear to demagogues.

“It is the prolific root from which springs that luxurious cloth of humbug upon which political tricksters thrive as pigs fattened upon gourds and, point of fact, no such government with a magic fount of its own has ever existed upon the earth. No government has ever yet used any money for public purposes which it did not first take from its own people, unless it may have plundered it from some other people in victorious warfare.”

To be continued...

The American Way of Life (Part 22 of 28)

Part 22: of a 28-part series

The last idea, the last thing we are doing, is how we live. We are resting on our own ability, our own political acuteness, our own political ability. We’re not born with this ability, by the way. We’re born with a disability, with no ability for self-government. That doesn’t come with drinking the right kind of water, either. It's the result of habit and long training.
It is remarkable to see – 200 years before the Declaration of Independence – that this was a habit of theirs. Because England was so remote ("3000 miles of water remote"), they had to fall back on themselves for their own care. Amazing – fall back on yourself for your own care. That’s a hard thing to do when there’s nothing around to use.

All had, for many generations, been more or less accustomed to self-government, and to public meetings for discussing local affairs. It’s a beginning of what they used to do a lot of. This used to happen and occur constantly, in their towns and in their society, to have gatherings of such, to discuss the current policies that they were under, or that was being produced. And we’ve lost that custom.

To be continued...

The American Way of Life (Part 21 of 28))

Part 21: of a 28-part series

Now this up and down thing…I read the quote by Reagan. I’d like to illustrate what we’re looking at here. Remember, we are demonstrating the positive alternative to despotism, to slavery. Slavery is the lowest human existence. It could be in your home, but still the lowest existence. Why is it so low? Because you are serving the will of the governor against your will, when you have no will of your own.

You and I are told we must choose between the left and the right. It’s not between what party. Just get off of that party thing. Party affiliation has nothing to do with it. But I suggest that there’s no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up and down. Up to man’s old dream – the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order – or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.

“Regardless of their sincerity or humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations, and benefits.”

Dependency – if you’re incurring dependency for your livelihood – if you’re depending upon the fruits of somebody else’s labor – then you’re dependent on somebody else. That’s basically it. It’s not that we would not wish to give a helping hand. But we do not want to incur dependency or slavery on another. You’re making somebody a slave to you. We’ve not gotten very far from the Civil War, if that’s the case. It just comes in a different form.

So what is good for America is what promotes liberty for the individual in principle. It may hurt a little bit. It may not be popular. You know, it may seem you’re against something, when you’re really for it, because you have to vote against it. But you get the point.

To be continued...