Shaking the Tree of Liberty

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Shaking the Tree of Liberty
Thomas Jefferson stated, "God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

America has fallen asleep under the tree of liberty. In 1776, a group of thirteen British colonies declared their independence. They realized that it was no longer acceptable to live under tyranny and to remain doing so would mean individual freedoms and voices would be denied. Refusing to live under such oppressive leadership, they fought for their beliefs and the very fabric of their lives. It would seem the time is well past due for America to rebel again. Has not the ruling spirit of tyranny returned?

To believe this assessment, one must look at the current state of our government. In form, America has sustained the three separate branches fought for by our forefathers; each branch outwardly carrying on its legacy of guardianship and scrutiny of the others. If one looks closely, however, the spirit of liberty is dying. Lincoln’s proclamation “by the people and for the people” suffers in today’s political arena. What has happened to America in the last 200 plus years? While this question appears rhetorical, it is not. The answer lies with the POLITICIANS: Politicians who, on the surface, are caring, patriotic, and watchful of American liberty, but who, in reality, are dictatorial, closed, and arrogant, as only true tyrants can be.

Many who read this would immediately downplay this essay as over-reactionary and cynical, but it is asked of these readers to judiciously consider its premise. One only need watch the evening news to hear most politicians bicker and cat-fight over what the opposite party has done to harm the country, what was really intended in an off-handed comment, who is demonstrating racism, or how certain friendships and associations are dangerous for national security. Other politicians decide that a media frenzied, whirlwind tour of Europe and the Middle East to visit foreign heads of state is the best way to serve the American people. Still others choose to remain uninformed and out of touch with the people on topics such as healthcare and immigration reform. Is this the best leadership Americans can expect? Isn’t this the attitude that our forefathers dared to escape from? Democracy in America seems to be a dying dream. While millions of Americans are grasping to hold onto their jobs, and any other type of security in hopes of attaining the dream promised, politicians in Washington and at state capitols are running amuck, concerned only with appeasing the big companies, unions, and environmental agencies that have bankrolled their campaigns. Throughout the land, cries of “no taxation without representation” can be heard. On the surface, we have men and women who claim to take their job as representative of their constituents earnestly. Americans willingly trust these politicians with voting privileges, only to discover that their elected officials vote themselves raises while American veterans, who offered their very lives in defense and service of this country, must fight government red tape and eventually are forced to wander the streets homeless.

Comparable to hundreds of years ago, the only audible voice heard in America is that of the immensely wealthy and privileged-whether individual or corporate. Just as a tyrant decided issues then, Americans today are forced to “live with” decisions that they neither approved of nor voted for. Presently in Texas, the State Board of Education, after listening to hours of educator and voter testimony on the revision of the English/Language Arts curriculum, displayed great condescension and distain for the people by tossing aside sound research and expert advice to vote their party line, or worse yet, their own personal agenda. Nationally, at this moment, over 70% of Americans favor the idea of limited off-shore drilling with the hope of moving to alternative energy sources- the goal to be independent from foreign supplies of oil. Elected officials chose to walk away from the table and refused to consider, or even discuss, possibilities that could result in desperately needed economic and national security answers for the current energy crisis. Here again, tyrannical politicians revealing their blatant disregard for the people they serve.

This current political attitude only solidifies the notion that when it comes to respect and concern for the American people, the politicians have none. As expenses soar and jobs become limited, the middle class continues to barely keep its head above water in order to survive. So what is our government doing? No… financial hand-outs are not the implication here. Instead, this question asks what are the measured steps taken by elected officials in response to the plight of the average American? So far, Americans have heard the typical rhetorical speeches (especially since it’s an election year) about how change is coming, how experience is needed, how every ill suffered today is the current administration’s fault and blame should be placed only on them, how our racial attitudes are keeping us from moving ahead…but what ACTION toward improvement is being taken?

Of course we hear that CHANGE is coming, but what precisely does that mean? This new buzzword for politicians conveys a belief that Americans are ignorant, uninformed, and will bite at anything. While change is a wonderful word; it is also an action verb. The very definition of change implies movement toward something, or away from something…so what is the movement that the government has provided to its citizens? As of today, the American political scene is stuck in the rut of the same old game: a mentality of commitment to political posturing, unquestioning party allegiance, and self-preservation. Why does this persist? A guess is that politicians, skilled at idleness, have been able to satisfy hard-working American people that they are making progress on the issues that are important to voters. They regurgitate empty promises and assure America that they are the agents of upcoming transformation and all that is needed is patience and in due time America will see these nebulous changes come to fruition. So why do Americans believe them? Most Americans would tell you that technically their job is not to baby-sit their leaders, but the real reason is that most Americans are caught up with the struggles of their own life and have become weary. In the weariness of the daily grind they continue to linger in exhaustion and near apathy with only the strength to worry about making it another day without losing their job; linger in another day of barely being able to fill the gas tank, linger in another day of just making the bills, and linger in another day of silent thanksgiving that no accidents occurred since there is no insurance.

So what is the solution? First, Americans must shake themselves conscious and demand an immediate halt to the nonsense. Secondly, by looking back to our past, we must find our answers through consulting our forefathers. At the end of the day, Thomas Jefferson’s proclamation seems the most appropriate course of action…Americans must take America back from the tyrant! The question becomes then what will patriots do to bring America back to its roots at the tree of liberty? Is a revolution the only answer to our current state of affairs? Possibly! In the words of the revered Declaration of Independence, “…That to secure these Rights (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness) Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Does America have any other choice?

Lisa Marie Stout

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