A Great American Resurgence is rooted in civic engagement

Civic Engagement

The American experiment in self-governance relies heavily on an engaged and informed citizenry, who understand the philosophical foundations of individual liberty. This is why it is important to read philosophers like Frederic Bastiat, John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Adam Smith, and others, as well as the writings of our Founders. Without historical context, we cannot understand the foundation of liberty.

And without an understanding of the foundation of liberty, we cannot partake in civic engagement. As citizens, we are given rights from our Creator — but with those rights come certain responsibilities. These are civic duties.

Many conservatives believe that the preservation of liberty is rooted in both an understanding of the teachings of our intellectual forefathers and the practical application of these teachings. During the rise of the tea party movement, groups sprung up to educate average Americans on these constitutional principles. One such organization is called the Center for Self Governance. Another group that emphases the importance of one of our founding documents is the Bill of Rights Institute, which provides educational resources to teachers. There are likely dozens of other such organization that emphasize these elements.

Fortunately for these organizations, they have their work cut out for them.

A recent Associated Press-GfK poll reveals a steady decline in the American sense of duty, the foundation of what keeps our constitutional republic strong. ABC News reports:

Barack Obama and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

Obama Sad

It’s not been a good year for Barack Obama.

Of course, the midterm elections during the sixth year of a two-term president’s time in office are historically bad for the president’s party. In 2006, Democrats defeated President George W. Bush’s party and picked up a net of six seats in the Senate and 31 seats in the House. The 1998 elections held steady for Republicans during President Clinton’s sixth year, and they kept majorities in both chambers.

In 1986, during President Reagan’s sixth year, Democrats picked up eight seats in the Senate, giving them control of the Senate, and gained a net five seats in the House, giving them a massive 258-177 majority. To give context, Republicans are expected to start the next Congress in January with 247 members to the Democrats’ 188 — and that’s historically high for Republicans.

But President Obama’s bad year doesn’t start and end with Election Day 2014. According to Gallup, which has been tracking presidential approval ratings for decades, 2014 is the first year where President Obama’s approval rating never eclipsed his disapproval rating, meaning he has not — at any point this year — had a net positive approval. He has been under water since August 2013 and has not recovered.

National Journal’s James Oliphant writes:

“Abandon the Democrats!” — The rallying cry of defeated, marginalized progressives

Occupy Wall Street

For years Republicans wandered in the political wilderness with no leadership and no guidance. Barack Obama ushered in a new era of Democratic dominance and Republicans would be doomed without a unified message in opposition to Obama and his policies.

That’s the narrative the mainstream media attempted to portray.

But in the wake of the 2014 midterm elections, it seems the tables have turned. Republicans made significant gains in state legislatures, won governor’s races in traditionally Democratic states, increased their margin in the House, and re-took the Senate. This has caused much hand-wringing and soul-searching among Democrats and progressives within the grassroots.

Salon.com has been one of the loudest voices on the Left taking the Democratic Party to task for its cozy relationship with Wall Street. Bill Curry, former White House counselor for President Bill Clinton, tells progressives to build a framework outside the Democrats Party, much like the tea party’s relationship to the Republican Party. He writes:

Democrats are in denial regarding the magnitude and meaning of their defeat. It is a rejection not just of current leaders but of the very business model of the modern Democratic Party: how it uses polls and focus groups to slice and dice us; how it peddles its sly, hollow message and, worst, how it sells its soul to pay for it all. Party elites hope party activists will seek to lift their moods via the cheap adrenaline high of another campaign. For once, activists may resist the urge.

Surprise, Surprise! Top 2014 political donors gave overwhelmingly to… Democrats

Obama, Reid, and Pelosi

Democrats took a thumping in the 2014 midterm elections. And though Harry Reid and many of his colleagues actually campaigned against the influence of money in politics, a POLITICO report reveals (not surprisingly) that Democrats were the recipients of millions in campaign contributions from wealthy businessmen.

Kenneth Vogel writes:

POLITICO’s analysis of top 2014 donors suggests that liberals have gotten over their big-money qualms.

Donors who gave exclusively or primarily to Democratic candidates and groups held down 52 of the top 100 spots — including by far the biggest donor of disclosed 2014 cash: retired San Francisco hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer.

He donated more than $74 million to Democratic candidates and supportive committees, but it was the way he gave that highlighted both the potential impact and the limitations of the new breed of mega-donor to shape elections.

Sony’s Fake (Maybe) Hack and Real National Security

The Interview

In attempting to write a humorous, post-holiday, light-hearted few words about the silliness of “The Interview” being offensive to the North Korean dictatortots, the usual poking around occurred to see what other, more engaged writers on the issue had to say. Oddly, what appeared at first blush to be a minor flap over a (probably) mediocre film (disclosure: haven’t seen it, likely won’t, until boredom and/or curiosity wins) took on more significance when it became clear that there is some debate as to whether or not the North Koreans actually hacked Sony — exposing embarassing emails — to lob threats in retaliation for the film’s release.

As most people know, that led to a canceling of the release and a subsequent release online in a patriotic stand to show those pesky tyrants we Americans do not bow to threats and intimidation.

But now — and forgive me for being slow on the uptake but I’ve been pleasantly family immersed — there’s some doubt as to whether the North Koreans hacked Sony at all (they’ve claimed they never did).

It’s been a week since the U.S. government blamed North Korea for the cyber-attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment — and many security experts still aren’t convinced Kim Jong-un is the culprit.

The FBI’s announcement, rather than settling the debate, has only fueled widespread speculation over the source of the attack.

Skeptics claim the evidence the FBI cited is flimsy and inconclusive. They question whether Pyongyang really had the motive, or the ability, to scramble Sony’s systems.

And they’re pushing a range of alternative theories.

Wanted: Average Joe to drive in Obama’s Presidential Motorcade

Obama Motorcade

Apparently, all it takes to be a volunteer driver in the presidential motorcade is a driver’s license, a clean record, and a friend in the White House, according to the New York Times.

Michael Schmidt writes (emphasis added):

At the front of the [Presidential Motorcade] were bulletproof black sport utility vehicles and limousines driven by Secret Service agents who had spent hundreds of hours learning how to maneuver at high speeds.

Bringing up the rear were police cars with their lights flashing and a Secret Service ambulance that follows the president wherever he travels.

And in between were several vans filled with White House staff members and journalists, being piloted by volunteers like Natalie Tyson, a 24-year-old Bay Area graduate student wearing fluorescent orange sunglasses.

“Wow,” she exclaimed as she hit the gas and the van lurched within a few feet of the one in front of it. Then she slammed on the brake. Then she hit the gas again.

“Sorry about that,” she said.

She returned her hands to the textbook 2-and-10 positions on the steering wheel.

When Child Protective Services becomes Child Abductive Services

.

It’s generally agreed that playing outside is good for kids. Fresh air, sunlight, exercise, social interaction are all vital for proper childhood development. However, a growing herd of nanny-statists within the government, specifically state Child Protective Services agencies, have decided that playing outside without direct supervision is so dangerous that it would be better if children weren’t raised by their own parents. They risk turning our children into a generation of physically stunted, psychologically addled wards of the state. But for their own good!

The latest example of this trend is a case out of Maryland. The only report of it is a first-hand email from the parents, so the usual caveats apply, but given the many, many other examples of similar government threats, we’ll assume it to be true for now. In November a neighborhood busybody called authorities ahbout two kids, ages 10 and 6, at a park (which happened to be two blocks from their home) alone. The local Child Welfare Services office cited the parents for leaving them unattended outside, using a statute that actually prohibits the opposite, leaving a child “locked or confiined” inside unattended.

Socialist “single-payer” healthcare crashed and burned in America’s most liberal state

Vermont Single-Payer

Bill O’Reilly sent Jesse Watters to Vermont over the summer to see just how liberal the Green Mountain State is. The state legislature has a handful of elected officials from the “Progressive Party,” a political party further to the Left ideologically than even the most liberal Democrats. In Congress, Vermont sends an avowed Socialist and one of the most liberal Democrats to the Senate. And, of course, Vermont is well-known for having elected Howard Dean, a laughably-liberal governor-turned-presidential candidate.

So when Vermont went even further than Obamacare and enacted a single-payer system for health insurance, liberals nation-wide looked to that state as a beacon of hope for socialized medicine.

Writing in The Atlantic in December 2013, Sean McElwee notes:

Governor Peter Shumlin signed a revolutionary single-payer plan, Green Mountain Healthcare—the culmination of decades of work by progressive politicians in the state—into law in May 2011. The new system aims to guarantee universal insurance coverage, improve benefits for those who are currently underinsured, include universal dental care and vision care, and increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate to doctors in order to avoid cost-shifting.

For Christians, glorifying God and accepting torture are incompatible

Birth of Christ

The recent Senate Torture Report should be a wake-up call to Christians. Especially in light of Christmas. As believers we give thanks each December that God became man and was born to die for sinners like us. But the truth of Christmas should do more than provoke a seasonal cheer and religious attitude. It should transform our entire lives. That includes our worldview, and how it relates to others.

Christians have long bemoaned the growing secular influence of the Christmas holidays and society in general. “Keep Christ in Christmas”. “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. But if we fail to honor Him with how we live, does it matter what people think of Christmas?

What should be far more disturbing to us than whether or not someone says “Happy Holidays” is the willingness of American Christians to be satisfied with only a veneer of talking points while turning a blind eye to evils within our own borders. The recent revelations from the Senate Intelligence Committee are just the latest example of this.

On the Nature of Our Servitude

Freedom

We are not free

I do not expect much difficulty in convincing you that you are not a free person. Any regular reader of this blog would likely accept the proposition without argument. But for those who don’t, consider that free people could never be forced to bail out an entire industry, like we were with TARP; and free people would not tolerate the mass counterfeiting of their money - as we have with QE; and free people would never be forced to pay others to spy on them and invade their privacy - as we are with the NSA; and free people would not be imprisoned for non-violent activities - as we are by the millions in the drug war; and free people do not go to war to serve the vanity and/or pocketbooks of a select few - as we have for the Neocons; and free people don’t let a few busybodies decide how and in what manner they can earn a living - as we do with government licensing. In light of this and much more one really has to wonder how anyone could still believe we are “free”.

 


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.