Saturday, August 14, 2010




In the 17th and 18th centuries Americans were an “ornery” people. The ornery man (or woman) minded his own business, stepped in to help others when necessary, detested bullies and was, far more than the Europeans, jealous of his liberty. Sometimes, of course, he went too far, as for example when he insisted on his god given right to spit chewing tobacco juice wherever and whenever the whim might catch him up. As our nation began to mature, however, there were more than a few who thought that “no spitting” ordinances would not impinge too much upon constitutional freedoms.

The ordinances, however came too late for some. Following the populist revolution of 1828 that swept into the Presidency, Andrew Jackson, the martial hero of the Battle of New Orleans, his rebel supporters, showing no respect for the White House carpet, spat with gusto where they would. Even so, writes Lee Harris, there is a grand virtue in the ornery man.[1]

“… one of the most striking characteristics of ornery people is that they don’t want to boss other people around any more than they want to be bossed around themselves…. The ornery man’s idea of liberty is the liberty to be left in peace, to tend to his own affairs, to pursue his business, make his home, and raise his kids, without being told what to do or how to do it by other people.

The Americans, early on, expressed their unique, independent spirit in a flag inscribed with a warning to the British Don’t Tread on Me. Many thought of themselves—not without a grim humor— as the natural manure of liberty; for as the great Thomas Jefferson wrote,

The Tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.[2]

The freedoms Americans enjoy are not so much a birthright as they are a legacy dearly paid for in blood and treasure, in the spending of life’s blood, courage, and hope upon what too often appeared to be a cause doomed to fail. George Washington, wintering in the frigid wastes of Valley Forge, saw the greater part of his Continental Army drift away even as the men remaining, starving and poorly armed, dressed in rags and many shoeless, awaited Washington’s inspiration and the Providence of their God.

As ornery people struggle for their rights individual freedoms everywhere increase. However, as government suppresses, condemns or criminalizes a people’s struggle—as is happening right now in America—its totalitarian strategies begin to take hold. They may be seen in the government’s effort to defame, libel and intimidate peaceful people who have become too ornery.

The tea partiers are such a people. They complain, object and protest peacefully a government derailed from its Constitution, and the American civilization upon which it claims the right to exist. Tea Partiers protest the party in power, not only for its verbose duplicity but also for its attempt to declare forfeit the sovereignty and freedoms of an American people.

The O’Bama Administration, operating in tandem with gay rights groups, is even now trying to ram through the U.N, a resolution that would criminalize speech even remotely critical of the homosexual lifestyle. Americans cannot at once have this law and also have the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. They cannot have this law and also have the right to freedom of speech and conscience.

The government also defames and intimidates Americans living in Arizona who are fit out with the courage to struggle against illegal immigration even as the Administration, in the service of rank, political ambition, has repudiated its constitutional obligation to close the southern border.

Finally, in a mockery of the American Constitution, the Rule of Law and the vote of 7 million Americans, a gay judge has written a diatribe that again discovers in a Constitution over 200 years old a right to homosexual, lesbian and transgender marriage. In this, and corrolary rulings just as incendiary, and bereft of constitutional authority, the judiciary has unteathered itself from its Constitution, the rule of law, and from the foundation of that law as it is rooted in an ancient Greco/Roman, Judeo/Christian civilization. What then is the source of judicial legitimacy? Louis XIV, explained it in a sentence. The State? I am the State!

The new empathetic judiciary, having unscrewed its jurisdiction from the sticking place, will now impose by fiat an empathetic interpretation of the Constitution by which means it may take unto itself any power whatever that may be the object of its ambition. The judiciary has shut itself of precedent, the plain words of the Constitution, the common law, and the civilization of its people. Than this, there is no greater nor more pretentious arrogance. Thomas Jefferson condemned judicial despotism for the breaker of Constitutions that it is.

If this opinion be sound,” he wrote, “then indeed is our Constitution is a complete… act of suicide.

To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their… power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control.

The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves." --Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820. ME 15:277

For experience has already shown that the impeachment it has provided is not even a scare-crow... The Constitution on this hypothesis is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please." --Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1819. ME 15:212

It is a popular intellectual myth that civilization subsides as individual freedom increases. We hear too much talk lately of anarchy. The intellectual argues that it is far better to have a well-oiled state in which he would take unto himself the power to decide what is best for the rude and unwashed American masses. In this way says he real freedom increases—freedom from want for example, he would service by the redistribution of wealth, by the regulation and paternal lobotomy of the citizen’s rough and ready mind.

How much better is order than freedom, and uniformity than the bothersome ornery mind— besides which a well-oiled state will prohibit ordinary citizens from spitting the detritus of his tobacco chaw upon the sidewalks of America.

Lee Harris writes that,

If Religion is the opium of the people, utopianism is the methamphetamine of the intellectual. Religion… makes the humble content with their lot in life…. The utopian’s drug of choice has the opposite effect: it offers intellectuals a vision of a world in which they are omnipotent…. They act to improve society, which, in their minds, means redesigning it according to their own ideals.

It is a tragedy that Americans, of their own free will, have created a Senate and Congress so sagaciously corrupt they have lost the trust of 89 percent of the American people. We now have a President who has squandered American wealth on constituencies, who will return in kind a portion of the taxpayers’ money to pay off Democrats in power. It is far more dangerous to American freedoms however, that the government, unmoved by the passionate and well-reasoned disapproval of the American people, continues stone faced the dismantlement of our country, culture and constitution.

But what is to be done? Ah, now there’s the rub. That should be, must be and will be for you to say. For there, just over the horizon, lies in wait for all, the evil and the good, a chill November and the Polls.

[1] Lee Harris, The Next Civil War, The Populist Revolt Against the Liberal Elite, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

[2] Letter to William Stephens Smith, November 13, 1787.—The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, vol. 12, p. 356 (1955).

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