by Diane Rufino, September 16, 2022
Conservatives are at a crossroads in their relationship with big government and big tech. It is, as Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it in the campaign speech he delivered on October 27, 1964 in support of Republican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. That memorable speech has been titled “A Time for Choosing.“ In that speech, Reagan explains that there are only two paths with respect to the role of government. One path not only requires, but champions, expanded government control of tech firms for the “greater good” of society – that is, as determined by politicians and bureaucrats. The other path relies upon competition, markets, and the rule of law to foster individual liberty and economic growth. As Reagan correctly observed, a government cannot control the economy without controlling its people. The choice before us will have immense consequences for the role of government and the rule of law for generations to come. It is important to get it right.
In that speech, he related this message:
“Not too long ago two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro. That refugee commented: ‘”How lucky you are to live in America and how lucky that I had someplace to escape to.’ In that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
I think every American should read this speech. It was not only appropriate for the era, but as it turns out, it is prophetic and perhaps even more appropriate for the current era.
What is the role of the federal government? It is clear that there are two divergent views on the answer to that question – one view believes the federal government exists to take care of its people, from time in the womb to grave, while the other view continues to be the view of our Founding Fathers, which is that the government needs to be limited and constrained. In fact, if one takes the time to read the US Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the debates in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, and the debates and conclusions of the individual state ratifying conventions, it is abundantly clear, that this latter view is exactly what was intended when the current American union was formed with the official adoption of the Constitution. On June 21, 1788, the Constitution became the official framework of the government of the United States of America when New Hampshire became the ninth of 13 states to ratify it (as per Article VII). Yet the union was not complete as four states had yet to ratify it (North Carolina, New York, Virginia, and Rhode Island). In fact, it wasn’t until nearly two years later, on May 29, 1790 when Rhode Island became the last state to adopt it.
It is obvious which view has prevailed over the years, and with each leftist administration, we feel the consequences of those footprints in DC. To be fair, even conservative administrations have contributed to the mess – the over-regulation and the top-down control over almost every aspect of our lives and livelihoods.
The Declaration of Independence proclaimed to a “candid world” that the “united American Colonies are, and of right, ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full (sovereign) power.” To establish legitimacy, Thomas Jefferson (and the other members of the Committee of Five), included the reasons for declaring independence (to prove that the intention of the King was to establish an absolute tyranny over the colonies). The Declaration lists these (27) reasons as follows:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
1. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good;
2. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them;
3. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only;
4. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures;
5. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people;
6. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within;
7. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands;
8. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
9. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries;
10. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance;
11. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures;
12. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power;
13. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation;
14. For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;
15. For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States;
16. For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world;
17. For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent;
18. For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury;
19. For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences;
20. For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies;
21. For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments;
22. For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever;
23. He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us;
24. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people;
25. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation;
26. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands;
27. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
I dare say that these “Facts” that were submitted rival some of the same facts that could easily be noted and submitted today. Our current bloated and unrestrained government (yes, “tyrannical”) is causing a stir among American patriots – ones who appreciate and take refuge in the system, the notions, and the values and principles of our Founding Fathers. There is talk of nullification, of an Article V Constitutional Convention, of revolution, of separation, and yes, even of secession. Apparently, the revolutionary spirit that guided the American colonies to seek independence from Great Britain in order to establish their own founding values and their own governments is re-kindled once again.
Much of the political class of our country’s founding generation viewed the Constitution as restraining, not unleashing, the government. They, especially and most notably James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, recognized that there are “natural rights,” which are areas of human behavior for which we do not need a permission slip from government to exercise, are truly inalienable. An inalienable right, like speech, worship, travel, self-defense, and privacy for example, is one that cannot be taken away by majority vote or by legislation or by executive command. It can only be taken away after the behavior of the person whose restraint the government seeks has been found by a jury to have violated another’s natural rights. This process and these guarantees (articulated in the Bill of Rights) are known today as the presumption of liberty. Stated differently, because of our recognition of natural rights, and our history, values, and written constitutional guarantees, we in America are self-directed and free to make our own choices. We have free will. In fact, the constitutional guarantee of due process mandates that because our individual liberty is natural to us, it is always presumed and therefore, it is always the government’s obligation, or government’s burden, to demonstrate our unworthiness of freedom to a judge and jury before it can curtail that freedom. It is not the other way around.
Let’s face it, government has become hostile to the People. It has become hostile to the US Constitution, to our precious Bill of Rights, to States’ rights, and to the inherent and inalienable rights of the individual. As I wrote at the beginning of this article, a government cannot control the economy and cannot direct social engineering (social change) without controlling its people.
As Ronald Reagan explained in his ‘Time for Choosing’ speech:
“It doesn’t require government expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? Such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment. Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two political parties…that we are to choose just between those two. I believe that would destroy our country. And in destroying it, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear.”
What are some examples of how our federal government has become out of control and a direct threat to our human rights and liberties?
I’ve broken the examples into two general classifications: (1) Those schemes, actions, and initiatives that have been designed to control the American people, and (2) Those schemes, actions, and initiatives against targeted individuals and businesses (conservatives):
Government schemes, actions, and initiatives that have been designed to control the American people:
- The election system has been compromised and citizens have no confidence at all in the election results.
- 87,000 new IRS agents have been hired to harass and intimidate taxpayers.
- COVID and Monkey Pox pandemics have been concocted in order for the government to claim “national emergency” powers so it can dictate and mandate what citizens can do and when they can do it.
- With the new government healthcare insurance system, citizens are compelled and forced to follow government guidelines.
- The federal government has hijacked the public education system to engineer a more progressive social order (“Whoever controls the education of our children controls the future”).
- The federal government has become hostile to religion, allowing it to usher in progressive social values. (“The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State….. The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” — Everson v. Board of Education (1947)
- The federal government has become extremely hostile to gun rights and has been using mass shooting incidents (especially school shootings) to introduce, or threaten, gun control legislation.
- The federal government is forcing religious institutions to accept and adopt progressive policies, even when such policies are in direct conflict with its foundational teachings.
- The leftist element of the federal government has been weaponizing agencies to go after, harass, and even defame and imprison political undesirables.
- The federal government has colluded with social media, the mainstream media, and big tech giants to push “one voice.” (This is intended to indoctrinate an electorate that for all intents and purposes is ignorant and not likely to be independent thinkers and prefers ‘talking points’)
- There have been countless individuals and businesses that have been “cancelled” by the left because they dared to express their conservative views. (One has to live in fear if he or she dares to express views that are contrary to the government’s agenda)
And yet, the real government and political criminals have not been investigated nor have they been subject to such unwarranted and intimidating searches and seizes. We all know who they are.
Government schemes, actions, and initiatives that have been designed to target conservative individuals and organizations:
- The relentless and un-ending harassment of President Donald Trump by an unhinged Democratic majority in government, including the lawsuits and two baseless attempts to impeach him while in office (and then after he left office). The charges never amounted to the constitutional criteria of “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
- The DOJ raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago. A court filing unsealed on Friday included a detailed inventory of the material that the F.B.I. removed in its Aug. 8 search of former President Donald Trump’s office and storage area at Mar-a-Lago, his residence and private club in Florida. Among the items seized, according to the list, were 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential and 11,179 government documents or photographs without classification markings. Forty-eight empty folders marked as having contained classified information were also taken, though the list did not specify whether that information was recovered. In total, the inventory included 33 groups of items that F.B.I. agents removed from Mar-a-Lago, including individual documents as well as containers full of materials like books, articles from newspapers and magazines or gifts and pieces of clothing. These seemingly more innocuous objects were often mixed together in the same boxes or containers as government documents, both with and without classification markings.
- The raid on General Flynn and the harassment of he and his family, including his son. (Apparently, he was indicted for his role in schemes to rig bids in violation of the antitrust laws and engage in criminal fraud on insulation contracts in Connecticut and elsewhere)
- In 2010, the US DOJ undertook surveillance of conservative FOX NEWS reporter (chief Washington correspondent) James Rosen, collecting his telephone records and seizing 2 days worth of private emails, and tracking his movements in and out the state. The government suggested that Rosen was a “co-conspirator” in a conspiracy involving the illegal leaking of confidential and classified government information by the State Department to the press. Additionally, the FBI accused Rosen of breaking anti-espionage laws. (What about the presumption of the right to a free press and the time-honored policy that a reporter never should have to divulge the identity of his or her sources?)
- “It is downright chilling,” Fox News executive Michael Clemente said in a statement. “We will unequivocally defend [Rosen’s] right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
- Prior to targeting Rosen, the Obama administration seized 2 months worth of telephone records of reporters and editors of the Associated Press.
- In May 2013, the DOJ conducted a pre-dawn raid on Rosen’s home, confiscating his computer, his files, his phone, and his private notes. The Dept. of Justice also harassed his parents.
- And how can we forget: In 2013, IRS official Lois Lerner revealed that conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status had been getting extra scrutiny, based on words such as “tea party” or “patriots” in their names. In years that birthed the Tea Party movement (2009 – 2010), hundreds of groups affiliated with the party had sought tax-exempt status as 501(c)(4), as “social welfare” organizations. IRS demands for documents left many of them in bureaucratic limbo for a year or more. Many filed suit claiming that the IRS harassed them and discriminated against them.
- This past summer, in June, federal agents conducted a pre-dawn search at the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Clark played a key role in President Donald Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory. Clad in his pajamas, the agents led Clark out of his Virginia suburban home and took his electronic devices. Why did the government see fit to raid Clark’s home? Simply because he saw fit to investigate Trump’s allegation of voter fraud.
- This summer, on September 13, Mike Lindell was surrounded by FBI agents at a Hardee’s drive-through, who then confiscated his cell phone. (Apparently, they are targeting him for his high-profile role in educating and confronting election fraud OR they simply want to intimidate and send a message to all those who are alleging election fraud and fighting for measures to ensure election integrity)
It’s getting too much to take. We just want to live our lives, free from government control and intimidation, and able to enjoy our inalienable natural and God-given rights and liberties. But (aside from the Trump years), it is getting harder and harder with each day.
In 1964, Ronald Reagan warned “We are at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it has been said if we lose that war, and in doing so lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well, I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.” (“A Time for Choosing” Speech)
We went on to say:
“Admittedly there is a risk in any course we choose to follow, but every lesson in history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face–that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight and surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand–the ultimatum. And what then? When Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we are retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary because by that time we will have weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he has heard voices pleading for “peace at any price” or “better Red than dead,” or as one commentator put it, he would rather “live on his knees than die on his feet.” And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us. You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin–just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well, it’s a simple answer after all.
You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, “There is a price we will not pay.” There is a point beyond which they must not advance. This is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s “peace through strength.” Winston Churchill said that “the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits–not animals.” And he said, “There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.
You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.” (“A Time for Choosing” Speech)
Again, I recommend that every American read Reagan’s full speech.
To sum up, let’s not forget the warning Ronald Reagan delivered in 1964: “This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
Ronald Reagan, “A Time For Choosing” (September 27, 1964) – https://www.reaganlibrary.gov/reagans/ronald-reagan/time-choosing-speech-october-27-1964
Declaration of Independence (text) – https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/declaration-transcript Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township (1947) – https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/330/1