Becoming We the People Again
Becoming We the People Again
“This is supposed to be a republic. The contract says power resides in the people. But if the Snowden leaks are teaching us one thing, it’s that we don’t even know what power is anymore nor do we care.”
So ends Mark Ames’ article on Pando Daily regarding the long history of NSA’s encroachment on American privacy, and an equally long history of whistleblowers desperately trying to rein in the dragon that wouldn’t stop growing—or eating. While some of us would view any “leaker” as a traitor, the truth is that American intelligence has become nuanced in the shadows. Today’s enemy is tomorrow’s begrudging partner in the constant balancing act that is the darker side of foreign policy. One uncomfortable truth is that the Obama administration has given arms and support to the same enemy in Syria that American troops are fighting in Afghanistan. Another is that this is a commonplace thing. Even in this swirling mix of allegiances and changing playing fields, however, ethics and integrity are not as grey. At the core of this entire issue is a simple question: Does an intelligence professional forfeit their ethical and moral obligation to stand up against unlawful conduct because they signed an agreement never to talk about the evil they didn’t know was there when they signed it?
Snowden’s whole purpose, in his mind, was not to condemn the intelligence community, or give our enemies an advantage. His end goal, it seems, was merely to put the information in the lap of the American people—who, by the way, are supposed to be running the government, not the other way around. We are supposed to do something about things like this. We are supposed to get angry and do something about corruption, about overreaching authority and abuse of power. Ultimately, we are the ones who hold the ultimate responsibility for our own governance.
The idea that We the People are supposed to be running the show, however, is seen as laughable now. According to current statistics, literally half of the United States population receives some sort of government assistance. How can we govern ourselves when we apparently can’t even feed and clothe ourselves? In 2009, a Gallup poll found that 36% of Americans follow national politics “very closely.” Roughly two-thirds of our nation has no idea what is going on in Washington. The National Math and Science Initiative says that 54% of American high school students aren’t even ready for college level math. An even more alarming 69% will not be ready for college level science. Enrollments in majors like engineering, mathematics, economics and science are decreasing as these same dumbed-down students choose easier majors like Gender Studies or Modern Dance. Our societal demand for instant gratification and minimal work has resulted in an entire generation of Americans who are largely incompetent, lazy, and unconcerned with anything besides themselves. Which group do you think is best equipped for self-governance: a group of students graduating with degrees in how to run businesses, build economies and infrastructure, conduct critical analyses of literature and logic alike, and further medical technology? Or a group of students whose study centered on things like what it means to be
gay homosexual? [Note: A reader pointed out that first, we need to take back our language. The word “gay” means happy, and carefree, not homosexual.]
We yell at our TVs and post links on our Facebook and engage in watercooler debate about “what’s wrong with this country?” but the truth is that the answer is far simpler—and shameful—than most of us would like to admit.
We are in this position because we chose to abdicate the power given to us by the Founders. We are oppressed because we refused to stem the tide of tyranny as it swelled. We are in a surveillance state because we were too lazy to take responsibility for our own safety, happy to trade our privacy so we could make it the government’s problem. We failed to “trust but verify,” choosing instead to assume that the government would never take advantage of its power to gain more. We shrugged our shoulders when lawmakers were corrupt, evil liars; then we elected them again. We held no one accountable—not our government, and not ourselves. We were far too busy enjoying our freedoms to realize how they were slipping away.
This is why the administration laughs at us when we say we want our privacy back. This is why they ignore us when we demand accountability. It is so far out of control, in fact, that a growing number of Americans truly believe that it will have to come to blood before it will ever change, that the only way to bring us back to the original intent of the Constitution is to start over in the rubble of what has become. The government does not fear us. That is the very definition of tyranny.
The contract says power resides in the people. People died to make sure of it. They gave up their homes and families and futures. They accepted torture, maiming, death. They gave up being able to see their little girl get married, forfeited seeing their son raise a boy of his own. They fought so that the contract would say that power resides in the people. WE the people. You and I.
I am an American, and I refuse to waste the legacy that was bought with the blood of my forefathers. I believe in self-governance, in life and liberty. I believe in self-sufficiency, independence, and in holding the government within the confines of what the Constitution allows. I am willing to fight and die in this pursuit, and I challenge all of you to search your souls. We cannot change what has happened until now, but we absolutely can change the outcome. We must change it.
For the sake of every American who will come after you, I challenge you to rise and remember what you are, what you were born to be. Do not let future generations see us for the cowards that we have been. Let them see us as the lions we must be.
We should never have to be afraid of our government. Our government should be afraid of us.