Common Sense About Freedom: 2016 and Beyond
Thomas Paine published his book, Common Sense, anonymously. The author’s identity remained unknown for some time. Similarly I, the author of this piece, wish to remain anonymous. In fact, if anyone claims to have written this, you can be sure he or she is lying.
My identity is unimportant since I am nobody important. I am no celebrity, government or media elite, famous person or “expert”in any area of public life. I am, in most ways, a common American citizen. If I differ in some significant way, it is that I am willing to go against “common knowledge” and “common practice” and speak up, if I disagree, in favor of common sense instead.
That’s why I’m writing this today.
As you read, I hope you will feel that I am speaking for you.
What is it that makes us Americans? What is the essence of America?
Some people may give answers like these:
- pop music groups
- the Internet and social media
- the automobile
- apple pie
However, most Americans choose something not on this list as the most important thing in their lives, such as:
- church or religious group
- family, friends, community
- job, career, occupation, special interests
- a life of adventure and variety
- becoming wealthy
- owning a home
- owning a business
- owning a farm
- living close to the land
None of these things unites us as Americans because we do not want, like, or believe the same things. Neither did any of them cause America to come into being. But, as Americans, we can choose among these things, and others. We can choose one thing — our neighbors can choose differently — because we are free to do so.
It is our freedom that unites us.
What truly made America — without which America would not even exist today — what truly unites all United States citizens is a pair of our most precious and still astonishing historical documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. The former, in declaring our freedom from tyranny, brought our nation into being. The latter was designed by our Founding Fathers to guarantee that we would maintain our freedom.
All of us — immigrants, descendants of immigrants, descendants of slaves, descendants of the Mayflower, and more — any of us who are U.S. citizens today are here only because of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.
Left, Right, Wrong
There are those among us who call themselves socialists, liberals, leftists, even communists. Most of them are motivated by a good heart — at least at first. They can be the nicest people. They want to be sure everybody is taken care of properly. They want to make everyone as equal as possible and have an equal amount of stuff as much as possible. They therefore think laws should exist to make that happen.
Let me tell you why they are wrong.
Let’s leave aside whether the legislation of equality is even possible. The real point is that somebody would have to make these laws and then enforce them. That “somebody” would be the government.
But what kind of government?
Our above-mentioned kindhearted friends place themselves along the “left” side of the spectrum. As nice as they are, they have very few nice things to say about those on the “right”, who presumably don’t care about other people, especially the less fortunate.
“Leftists” want government systems like socialism or communism. They accuse “right-wingers” of being fascists.
But wait — fascist leaders were evil dictators, like Hitler. Weren’t all large communist countries evil dictatorships also? Is fascism really right-wing or left?
The truth is — it’s all nonsense.
In a very real sense, for you, the average citizen, there is no right, left communism, socialism, fascism — these are just words.
There are only two kinds of government. There are governments that are designed to promote freedom for each individual citizen. And then there are dictatorships.
Dictatorships are evil. The reason that communism has been called evil is that communist nations have invariably been dictatorships.
In America, where citizens are accustomed to freedom, life under a dictatorship is hard to picture. So here’s a description of your life as an average citizen of, say, the former Soviet Union:
You do not get to choose your own occupation. The government decides that for you when you are very young. You are not allowed to change it.
You do not get to decide where to live. You can’t move from one place to another unless the government gives permission (or orders you to move). You do not choose your own house or apartment — it is assigned.
You may not be allowed to choose whether to marry, who to marry, whether you can have children, and how many.
You are not allowed to worship, or not worship, God as you choose. You are not allowed to say what you want about the government or anything else. Your views on any subject do not matter. There is only one point of view on anything that is acceptable — that of the dictator. Your neighbors and even your children are encouraged to spy on you. If you are suspected of not “being with the program”, you will be reported.
If the government tells you to do something and you don’t do it, they will take away your residence, your job, and send you somewhere like Siberia. They may torture or kill you.
You, the individual, have no rights and precious little choice about anything that really matters to you. In short, you are not free.
That is why we need a government that promotes freedom as opposed to a dictatorship. You should therefore be extremely cautious, even paranoid, about the quality and quantity of laws we desire, and the nature of those (our government) who we would have enact and enforce them.
Welcome to the Big Brotherhood
Let’s not quibble. For all purposes that matter to you, a lover of freedom, a dictator is a ruler who has no effective opposition and no effective checks and balances on his power. What he or she says, goes.
However, a dictatorship isn’t just the one guy at the top telling everyone else what to do. Even dictators need “friends” and allies. Somebody who wants to achieve total control will typically enlist the goodwill of some individuals from the following categories:
- career government officials
- media elite (journalists)
- ivory tower intellectuals at colleges, universities, and research institutes
- self-proclaimed intellectuals and other “useful idiots”
- people at the top of many of the largest corporations, banks, military, religious, and other organizations
These individuals make up the Big Brotherhood — or, in some cases, they only think they are a part of it.
A dictatorship actually operates as a two-class society: the Big Brotherhood, as the extreme upper class, and everyone else — including you, of course. Since no government can exist without money and goods from the governed, the Big Brotherhood, using whatever ideology it finds appealing, takes most or even all of it and redistributes it so that the very largest share goes to the dictator, somewhat smaller shares go to the Big Brotherhood members, and starvation wages are typically left for everyone else. What the dictator and Big Brotherhood take is usually called “taxes”, or perhaps “land easement” or “eminent domain”, but sometimes they just take it without calling it anything.
Sometimes the ideology that the Big Brotherhood uses is the “Robin Hood ideology: Rob the rich and give to the poor! What they actually do is rob everybody who is not part of the Big Brotherhood and give most of it to ….themselves.
Whatever ideology a would-be or actual dictator espouses, what he or she really wants is two things: 1)power and 2)money. The dictator loves the feeling of making other people feel helpless and beg for mercy. Sometimes he or she can even enjoy having people killed or tortured. His joy can be mitigated by having to share a portion of his ill-gotten wealth with his “friends” and allies. Therefore, if you are part of the Big Brotherhood, or think you are, you ought to be careful to stay on the dictator’s good side.
There is a would-be Big Brotherhood trying to operate in this country. Here’s how it’s working:
- Celebrities campaign for and/or say nice things about a politician, who gets to hobnob with the stars. These celebrities expect to be left alone to continue to make lots of money and be partially or completely exempted from taxes and rules that apply to the rest of us.
- Career government officials, instead of operating as checks and balances on each other as is their sworn duty, instead declare it a virtue to be “flexible” and “willing to compromise” and “go along to get along”
- Journalists and other members of the media elite are supposed to fearlessly pursue the truth, no matter where it leads, and then report it to you as “the public’s right to know”. That’s what the very first investigative reporters did. They had no prestigious journalism school education; they typically hadn’t finished high school or possibly even eighth grade. Yet they often did astonishing exposes of corruption in many places, including government, and revealing the truth.
With only a very few noteworthy exceptions, today’s media members do not reveal truth or expose corruption. They “create” the truth and suppress, or fail to report, corruption when it suits them. They are more concerned with looking good for the camera, and each other, than doing their job and providing a service to you, their loyal customer.
They are lying to you about many of the things that matter most because their loyalty is to themselves and the Big Brotherhood, not to you and their sense of professional responsibility.
They ought to be deeply ashamed of themselves.
- Ivory tower intellectuals at colleges and research institutes have found it fashionable for many decades to prove how “open-minded” they are by saying things about America that are not true, by making changes to what is taught in American history (if it is taught at all), by maligning or misinterpreting the Constitution, by falsifying data on such expert topics as medicine and world climate,and generally spreading partial and total lies among their students and apprentices.
- Many of us are, or have been, “useful idiots”. Would-be dictators and other, more established Big Brothers recruit large numbers of them from among our college and university students, but innocent people who are being deceived and tricked into spreading propaganda are everywhere. Usually they have been lied to repeatedly by people they admire and trust.
- Top corporate officials and people at the top of other large,important organizations sometimes think they are celebrities, may behave as such, and have similar expectations.
The Big Brotherhood expects to make up the new upper class. They are the smart, educated, sophisticated ones! They know best! They are helping make policy! What is more important than deciding what everyone else has to do, or else? They’re holding it all together! They deserve the lion’s share of the goodies!
That’s how they really think and feel. They think they are better and smarter than you. It’s them on top and you and everyone else on the bottom.
But wait — weren’t we talking about dictatorships? How can there be a Big Brotherhood in America? America isn’t a dictatorship!
I say that America isn’t a dictatorship yet. She is definitely in great danger of becoming one.
“Cool” Ain’t So Hot
“But Johnny did it! Johnny does it all the time!”
“If Johnny jumped off a cliff, would you do it, too?”
When we were kids, many of us had an exchange like that with our mother, grade-school teacher, or someone like that. Exactly what Johnny did doesn’t matter. What mattered was that Johnny was cool, and we wanted to be like him.
Later on, “cool” could be many things. Johnny had the look. He had the attitude. Everything he wore and did was totally awesome. Of course, he got all the girls. He set the rules. And we all followed them, because we wanted to be cool and get all the girls, too.
Still later, we worshiped celebrities and other famous people, because they were rich, famous, glamorous. They were cool. We wanted what they had — which was all the goodies.
Well, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you saw through all that superficiality. Perhaps you knew all along that wasn’t your idea of fun or happiness.But didn’t you feel just the tiniest bit of pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”? To have the biggest house on the block, in the best neighborhood? The best-looking spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend? The “right” car? The coolest job? Your kids at the best schools?
Being “cool” is peer pressure. There is absolutely, positively, nothing wrong with going after whatever you want, assuming you don’t do anything dishonorable to achieve your goal. What is wrong is doing it not because you want it, but because you think other people will like you — or think you’re cool.
Remember, you’re only the “cool kid” if you’re the one making the rules. You’re not really cool if you’re following them.
So what does this have to do with freedom?
One of the ways would-be dictators attempt to achieve their goal is to use peer pressure. They rely on your desire to fit in, to “go along to get along”’ to be “part of something greater than yourself”. They think you are nothing but part of a herd of sheep. They think you are too stupid to think for yourself.
They bombard you with ideologies that are really mere distractions. They repeat slogans over and over again because if something is repeated often enough, you will believe it is true.
I know that it is very difficult to make up your own mind in the face of all these lies, deceptions, and distractions. But you must try, if you wish to remain free.
Might I suggest this? Don’t try to be cool. Consider ignoring cool people. Consider, especially, ignoring and rejecting much of what you read and hear from the media. The very few media members with integrity should become apparent. You can enjoy movies and games, but don’t listen to what celebrities say about politics — or anything else. And your friends and people you see every day? Be careful. And think for yourself.
Tricks of the Trade
Besides peer pressure and creating a desire to be cool, a wannabe dictator has a number of other tricks up his sleeve. Here are a few of the most used:
- “Divide and Conquer” — Would-be dictators love to set black against white against any other skin color, man against woman, Christian against Jew against any other religious group, one ethnic group against another, young vs. old, rich vs. poor, and so on.
- “Our friends are our enemies” (and vice versa).
- “Our country is evil, and I can make it good again.” Guilt trips” are especially effective at weakening your patriotism. You are more likely to give up your money and freedom to “compensate” the rest of the world — but, as you might guess, this money and power over your freedom will go to the Big Brotherhood instead.
- “Maybe our forefathers or governing documents are wrong. I can do better if I change or ignore them.” In the case of our country, the would-be dictator, or would-be Big Brotherhood, would like to : a) weaken the separation of powers in the federal government (what better way to be dictator than to govern exclusively by executive order?) and b) greatly weaken, or eliminate, the Bill of Rights.
- “I will raise taxes on the rich so that I can do more for the common good.” Of course, the “common good” turns out to have a lot in common with Big Brother’s wallet.
How do we not fall for these “tricks”? Let’s take them in reverse order:
- Taxation is the beginning of slavery. This has been the case since Biblical times, when the Jewish people who were living in Egypt were first enslaved. The Egyptians accomplished this by initiating a tax on the Jews.
The greater the tax, the more control resides with those doing the taxing. More control means less freedom for those being taxed — meaning you.
Do not be fooled by someone who wants the “rich” to pay their “fair share” of taxes. If those being ostensibly threatened with increased taxes happen to be part of the Big Brotherhood, they will not suffer. The taxes will be passed on to you.
Taxation is one more way that the Big Brotherhood takes care of each other at the expense of you and your freedom. It is always best to keep taxes as low as possible for this reason.
- The most pervasive attack on our governing documents has been against the right to keep and bear arms. Now, you may not like guns. You may hate guns! But even if you, personally, never own or shoot a gun in your life, you ought to be very glad if your neighbor legally and responsibly owns one. He or she will make your neighborhood safer. All the safety statistics say that crime rates are much lower in the areas which encourage legal gun ownership.
President Obama claims to be so upset by gun violence that he had tears in his eyes. C’mon, people! Doesn’t anyone remember the movie “Broadcast News”? The point is that what he says is wrong. The statistics don’t bear him out.
A lot of Big Brotherhood spokesmen claim that we should be like Australia and take up all the guns. We all seem to have forgotten that Australia began as a penal colony, not as a country seeking freedom from tyranny as we did.
It should be obvious to each and every one of us that the only reason that a would-be dictator and the Big Brotherhood want to take away our legal gun ownership rights is so that they can do what they please without fearing any repercussions from the people, including you. They know you will be powerless against anything they want to do if you can’t defend yourself.
Many of you know this and have campaigned vigorously against our government’s attempts to do just that. You are heroes — but we are still in danger. We must never let up.
- No country has a perfect record — not even ours. The difference between our country and every other is that we have tried, and eventually succeeded, at rectifying our real mistakes.
There are some mistakes, however, that are particularly insidious. One example is our “green movement”. This movement should be about clean air, clean water and safe food for our children and grandchildren. Of course we want clean air, clean water and safe food! But all the slogans about “carbon footprints” and “global warming” are not generated from a concern for the environment. They are designed to make you feel guilty about you, the “evil” American, using “more than your share” of the world’s “limited” energy resources.
One of the absurdities resulting from our guilt feelings over prosperity and energy usage is the packaging of “penalties” for using “too much” energy into units that can be sold as investments. The people who are making money selling these penalties are supposedly helping the environment! Now, how insane is that?
The bottom line is that neither a would-be dictator nor Big Brother cares about the environment. They would not fly around in their private jets and overuse the non-renewable resources in electronic devices if they really believed their own arguments. What they care about is making you feel guilty.
The way to fight this is to let Big Brother know you are onto him. If the environment is important to you, give your business to companies that promote clean air, clean water, and safe food. Or start one yourself! Tell your friends to do likewise. Then tell Big Brother and all would-be dictators to take a hike.
- I’m sure you know that ISIS is not a pack of hoodlums in a pickup truck. They are radical Islamic terrorists. We must deal emphatically and harshly with them, without compromise, as with all our enemies.
Israel is our ally. We must always honor and protect our friendship with her. America must always tell the truth about her friends and enemies. This is the honorable way to behave. We should demand that of our elected officials.
- You must remember that the real conflict is not between the various factions within our country but between a would-be Big Brotherhood and everyone else. We are not each other’s enemy. We are one under the Constitution. The only enemy is those people who would take it away.
Our Heart’s Desire
So what can each of us do to preserve our freedom?
First, become intimately acquainted with the Constitution. I know that many of you have done this. But many of us, including this author, have had little exposure to any part of American history in school. One of the saddest aspects of modern life in America is that there are generations of Americans who do not know what the Constitution says. But take heart — there are free copies everywhere, including online or at your public library. You should read it now.
The most important thing to understand (and I apologize if you already do) is that we only have our freedom because the Constitution limits our government’s ability to take it away. It does this by establishing checks and balances on each branch of our government, so that no one of them can call all the shots. In particular, our president can’t act unilaterally and become a dictator.
Our Senate and House of Representatives and our Supreme Court are supposed to offer opposition to the President. When? When you decide you don’t like what he wants to do. The members of the House and Senate are your elected representatives and they are supposed to be your servant. If one branch fails, the other is supposed to oppose it.
Knowing this, the second thing you can do is to put this aspect of the Constitution to work for you. I know many of you have worked at the grassroots level to ensure that a number of important freedom-sapping bills did not pass. You are heroes! Yet we are still in danger. Each of us must put as much pressure on our elected representatives as possible to not automatically “cave in” to whatever the President wants.
One specific and crucial example concerns the next Supreme Court appointee. Each of us should determine that any appointee that the President suggests will actually uphold each and every provision of the Constitution. If there is any doubt whatever, that candidate should not be confirmed by your representatives. Remember — they are supposed to do your will. Make them aware of the fact! Make them acutely aware that you are watching them and that they are accountable to you.
The third thing you can do is make the same determination for each of our elected officials — including the next president. You can examine each candidate closely. What are we looking for, anyway? Do we want a pretty or handsome face? Political “royalty”? Someone who “stands for” (women, blacks, Hispanics, gays/lesbians, evangelical Christians, immigrants, and so on)? Someone who always says the “politically correct” thing? Someone who is part of the Big Brotherhood?
Or do we want someone whose first priority is the well-being of the USA and her citizens? Someone who will uphold the Constitution, as will be his/her sworn duty? Someone who is more concerned with keeping our nation safe from harm than keeping the Big Brotherhood happy? Does that candidate make it clear that he or she is “for” everyone because the Constitution guarantees equal rights for everyone?
The latter is what we want — because it gives you the greatest chance of pursuing and obtaining your heart’s desire.
At this time, we have two candidates who have a good possibility of becoming our next president.
Candidate A has done well at, and successfully completed, past jobs. Candidate B’s previous jobs have ended in failure.
Candidate A has said, on national television, “I said those things, and I was wrong.” Candidate B will never admit wrong-saying or wrongdoing (of any kind), apologize, or take responsibility for any mistake — no matter how disastrous the consequences.
Candidate A is not perfect — no mere human is — yet stated, on national television, “I am humble in ways you don’t understand.” Candidate B has no humility and no shame.
Candidate A has used personal funds to fix things that government failed to do and given generously to other people. Candidate B has never used personal funds to help anyone.
The choice seems pretty obvious to me.
But who am I to tell you which choice to make? I’m nobody! You don’t have to listen to me. All I ask is this: Don’t listen to the Big Brotherhood, either. Be careful who you do listen to. Do your best to make up your own mind.
But — how do you know if you are right?
Well, if you are religious, you can pray for guidance. If you are unsure about religion, you might try this Seeker’s Prayer:
Dear God, please help me
Believe what is true,
Love what is good, and
Do what is right. Amen.
You can use this prayer even if you don’t believe in God. Scientific studies suggest that prayer works, no matter what you believe.
If you just can’t bring yourself to engage in prayer, consider meditation instead. You might choose this as your meditation topic:
- the best possible example of freedom, liberty, justice, and leader of the free world
Prayer, meditation, or some method of quietly communing with yourself — and a Higher Power, if you believe in one — may help you arrive at a decision that you feel right about.
I firmly believe that if each and every one of us thoughtfully considers America in 2016 and her current situation, we will realize that our freedom is in great jeopardy. We will realize that we don’t need a president who will always try to act unilaterally — that is a dictator. We don’t need to follow a group of self-proclaimed elite who will always go along with the dictator — that is a Big Brotherhood. Our best and only defense against a dictatorship, Big Brother, and our loss of freedom is the Constitution. We must preserve, strengthen, and protect the Constitution with all our heart and soul. We must choose elected officials who will do likewise. If we do this, you will have the greatest chance of reaching your personal goals and America will truly be great.