Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Defending Our Founding Principles

On Inauguration Day, President Bush set forth his vision for bringing liberty to oppressed people around the world.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

This idea is nothing new. Ardent isolationist Thomas Jefferson enshrined the idea in our Declaration of Independence in 1776.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The Declaration holds certain truths to be "self-evident": equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By self-evident, the Founding Fathers meant applicable to all men, not just Americans.

As I noted above, Thomas Jefferson was an isolationist, though he briefly dabbled in alliances with the French and a "foreign adventure" against the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean to ensure safe routes for American trade. Other isolationists included George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison, Founding Fathers all. At the time, the United States was a fledgling democracy (a new idea) and its isolation gave it the vaccuum in which the spark of the idea was able to become a beacon of freedom for all.

Circumstances have changed, and America is the world's leading power and its tentacles (economic, political, and military) stretch the world over. Many argue that the conservative foreign policy agenda, the face of which is our current president, betrays the principles of our nation's founding. Untrue. If certain "truths" are "self-evident," than a nation as powerful as ours would be morally remiss to shun the oppressed citizens of the planet and horde the benefits of freedom for ourselves.

Others will point to slaves and women and say, AHA!, the Founding Fathers only meant to protect rich, land-owning white men and to pursue a foreign policy based on the musings of 200-year old racist and sexist white guys is morally presumptive to the extreme. Obviously over the course of our nation's history, we have reflected, warred, and marched over some of the imperfections of our founding era and have worked to correct our mistakes. No country will ever be perfect, but we can continue to strive toward that goal. The ideas of 200 years ago, in today's understanding of them, can affect a morally powerful foreign policy that can work to protect, inspire, and free people living in the worst circumstances imagineable. To forgo the opportunity that this ridiculously wealthy country now has before it to bring liberty to people worldwide most in its need is to relegate those people around the world to the equivalent of the slaves and women at the time of our Declaration. Spend some time in a third world city where ever day looks like a tsunami struck and maybe the blinders will be removed.

Others might argue that the Declaration of Independence stands for the principle that an oppressed people alone has the right to throw off the shackles of an unresponsive government. The Declaration does say, "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." But what happens when an oppressed people is too weak or fractured to do so? The weapons of war in the year 2005 are more powerful and destructive than in 1776, and in most autocratic countries, such weapons are jealously guarded by those in power. The probability of organizing a resistance strong enough to overthrow a regime governed by violence and fear, such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq, is extremely low. Citizens of these countries may need the boost of assistance from an outside power to effect their desire for new government. We took the chance in Iraq that its people would welcome freedom. Time will tell whether liberty blossoms in a region with a long history of despotic rule and violence. We have thrown off the shackles of the old regime for the Iraqis, now we must see (starting with Monday's elections) what form of government they choose to "effect their Safety and Happiness."

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.


Our president is also working to ensure that the innocent are guaranteed the "Life" promise of our Declaration.

Abortion protesters marched though chilly Washington yesterday emboldened by Republican election gains that they said gave new momentum to their 32-year fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. President Bush told them by phone, "This movement will not fail."


For his part, Bush played cheerleader in chief at a rally before the march, telling tens of thousands of anti-abortion protesters on the Ellipse that their approach to the debate this year would "change hearts and minds" of those still favoring abortion rights.

"This is the path of the culture of life that we seek for our country," Bush said by phone from the presidential retreat at Camp David, in the Catoctin Mountains.

Does not the Declaration clearly state that it is a self-evident truth and unalienable right that the Government guarantee the "Life" of "all men"? Is it not then the duty of our president, representatives, justices, and federal employees to so guarantee that right for all? Scores of millions of human children have been killed since Roe v. Wade was decided in this country in 1973. This is a serious abdication of the duties of our federal government as enshrined by the Founders in 1776.

Refreshingly, despite all of his reported shortcomings, we have a president in the Oval Office, George W. Bush, who has dedicated his administration to the principles on which this country was founded over 200 years ago. "Four more years" has not sounded this good for quite a while.


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