Friday, July 2, 2010
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Americans’ Rights and Freedoms Are in Danger
By JON COUPAL
It’s an American tradition to gather with family and friends on the Fourth of July. A barbecue, a picnic, a trip to a beach or park, or just a modest family get-together, are all appropriate ways to celebrate our nation’s independence.
Our Founding Fathers would approve. Most of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, committing their “lives,” their “fortunes” and their “sacred honor” to the cause, also knew how to enjoy themselves—in fact, Ben Franklin was famous for it, and Sam Adams’ contribution to a “good time” is well-known. They would be pleased to know that Americans still acknowledge their courage and sacrifice and, as part of their legacy, most Americans on Sunday will take pleasure in a day of celebration and leisure.
If you have a moment, though, we at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association hope you will reflect on all we enjoy because of these brave men. They enabled the establishment of a government designed to elevate the rights of citizens above those of rulers. It is a system that has provided Americans with unprecedented freedom, freedom that has resulted in unparalleled prosperity.
But those who declared independence from tyranny in 1776 and those who framed and adopted the Constitution in 1787-1788, knew no system is foolproof. The individual rights guaranteed by our well-crafted Constitution can be undone by lethargy and disinterest on the part of the people and corruption and vanity on the part of elected leaders. If the Founders could join us at our celebrations, they would remind us that they put it all on the line for us and, if we truly value the gift of freedom they have provided, we, in turn, have an enduring obligation to defend and protect our precious liberty.
Perhaps more than at any time in American history, our rights and freedoms are in danger on both the national and local levels. Many of those who now hold the levers of power are trying to dictate behavior and obligations to American citizens that the Founders would equate with the demands of the King of England. In both Washington and Sacramento, officials are seeking to seize the property of citizens in the form of exorbitant taxes. And they are pushing to criminalize new categories of behavior, even going so far as propose jail time for those who fail to buy health insurance or who drive with improperly inflated tires–although public outcry has forced them to back away from these harsh penalties.
Many of the policies backed by this current crop of leaders are designed to perpetuate their own power as well as those who work in government. Americans now find themselves confronted by government acting as a militant special interest and by officials behaving like public “bosses” rather than public servants.
But the Founders provided a solution, if we choose to use it. Most of those who have betrayed the public trust will have to stand for election this November and we the American people have the opportunity to clean house.
Here are small simple steps that can achieve big results:
1. If you are not registered to vote, register now. There is no time to waste.
2. Make sure your family members are registered.
3. Make sure your friends, neighbors, colleagues and club members know what is at stake and be sure they are registered to vote. Go to them personally with a registration form in hand.
4. Network with like-minded individuals to help make sure the vote gets out. Neighborhood associations and political clubs are an excellent place to start. And don’t forget the Internet. A quick search will provide contact information for scores of groups dedicated to protecting our freedoms. Sign up to receive information so that you can coordinate your efforts with others who believe as you do.
But if you can only take step number one, it is still worth the effort. The founders would be proud and your fellow citizens will be grateful. And on July 4, raise a glass to liberty!
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company