If you really believe that change must be brought to America in order to restore our uncomplicated ideal of freedom, personal strength and decency, then you must eventually come face to face with the need to do something about it "... that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom."
Our Actions Must Reflect Our Principles
Vote! And Vote On PrincipleAs long as our democratic systems continue to function, we have no right to condemn or complain if we do not exercise this opportunity to make our views felt.
Voting is our birthright as an American citizen. If we do not vote, we have surrendered that birthright. And with it a piece of our freedom.
People feel that their lone vote cannot make a difference. But President Nixon won his first term by far less than 1% of the vote. In 1880, James Garfield whipped Winfield Hancock by a mere 16,000 votes, or one vote in 500! Our vote does make a difference. But only if we cast it intelligently.
People also feel that it doesn't matter for whom you vote, Washington will be the same old story -- high taxes, wasted money, more regulation. The simple reason for this unfortunate situation is that too many of the people who do care enough to go to the polls, deliver up their vote too easily -- on the basis of party, of empty election promises, or because of a single shallow issue.
We hope that we can persuade you to instead support the candidate who will stand for principle -- the principles you hold most deeply -- and will be willing, even expect, that you will watch closely his adherence to those principles while in office.
That candidate may be from either (or any) party, of any ethnic background, either sex, any race; but he or she will be willing to be pinned down on the very deepest of personal principles, and will have demonstrated a willingness to live and govern by those principles, even when they get in the way of convenience. Such candidates for national office are rare - you will have to look and listen hard for them. And, to an extent, we will be making them, by letting otherwise qualified, upright office-seekers know what we expect of them. If we vote for a candidate based only upon what he promises to us, not only will we likely be disappointed, but we've left the future of our country to chance. This is how, in the words of Montesquieu, "A nation may lose its liberties in a day, and not miss them for a century".
When election day comes every year, go to the polls ... and take your principles with you.
CommunicateTo make our votes meaningful, as well as to help shape those beliefs we hold in common, we need to communicate.
Communicate our demands to the local and national organizations that propose candidates for office, so that we have a field worth choosing from. Even suggest our own candidate, in whom we have faith.
Communicate our expectations to the candidates for office that would like our vote, so that there is no question what is expected should they succeed to that office.
Communicate our satisfaction, or lack thereof, with current officeholders, so they understand that we do not take election positions lightly.
Communicate our ultimate dissatisfaction with politicians who have abandoned principle by voting them out of office promptly.
Communicate our resistance to fringe groups that think we deserve "special consideration" from government by refusing to join and refusing to support them. We are entitled to equal, not special, representation.
Communicate our satisfaction or lack thereof with those who would like our commercial patronage, but who prefer profits to principle, by not offering them that patronage.
Communicate our sadness with churches that should be the fount of moral leadership, but that no longer even pretend to teach their full scriptures for fear of losing paying congregation members.
And most of all … communicate with each other. Give political correctness the hasty burial it deserves, and start talking frankly again about how we feel. It's the only way we'll be able to identify the real roadblocks and start down the path of pulling together without a mandate from government.
Withhold Your PatronageIn a free market society, we have the ultimate opportunity to express our dissatisfaction (or the opposite) with those who seek our business. We can send a clear message by walking away.
If we don't like the peaches at the neighborhood grocery store, we don't call the government … we go elsewhere.
By the same token, if we think a movie theater has made too little allowance for access by those with handicaps … don't call the government. Stay away!
If we don't like the idea that our favorite running shoes are made overseas by people on a starvation wage, then why do we buy those shoes? Don't whine to the government. Buy another shoe. And tell both companies why!
If we're disgusted that our local burger joint seems to serve different people differently, don't bring a lawsuit. Eat somewhere else … and tell 'em why!
And the list goes on and on. The best way to have an impact on private concerns, the way most respectful of our foundations of freedom, is to withhold our patronage. Without our money, the business is doomed and will either wake up to that fact, or will no longer be around to worry us.
The big question is: Do we have the willpower to abide by our principles? Will we give up that sneaker for what we believe in, or is it easier just to assuage our feelings by complaining to our Congressman and letting him worry about it?
Buy AmericanBuying American should not be about tariffs and other forms of import protection, except perhaps in cases where products are clearly produced by enslaved or starvation labor.
Tariffs, which are usually proposed by American industry looking for special protections for an overpriced or sub-quality product, simply reduce competition and the urge to find less expensive ways to supply a better product.
If, instead, the decision to Buy American is made in a free market environment by consumers who have decided, on principle, not to buy certain products originating offshore, then a message is sent to the American competitor. The hint is clear: if you do not satisfy us both with your product and your principles, we can as easily withhold our patronage from you and again look overseas.
Without government interference based upon purchased influence, overseas products that are, in fact, superior in value and do not violate our sense of fairness, can continue to be acquired freely until such time that American-made products rise to the occasion. If we are clearly dedicated to buying American, then the incentive will be there for American firms to make the extra effort, rather than simply shifting production off-shore to reduce cost and relying on their American name to fool customers.
When Asia's economy collapsed a few years ago, purchases of U.S. agricultural products plummeted, burying the American farmer even further under low prices. Today, imports continue to hammer that situation. The same thing can happen to any industrial sector and frequently has.
The global economy is fine, but we need to insure that America is in a position to make what she needs when that need arises, and to buy what she makes. That requires, not the artificiality of tariffs, but the foundational commitment of Americans.
Don't Accept Your Neighbor's Taxes
If we can send a strong message to industry by withholding our patronage and buying American, then we can also send a message to government in a similar way.
Because government's business is based on the collection and spending of our taxes.
Beyond communicating with our representatives, we can have the biggest impact on the business of government by refusing to accept subsidies and support that we know very well originates with someone else's hard-earned money. While we cannot refuse to pay lawful taxes, we can, in effect, withhold our patronage on the other end. The resulting squeeze would produce a closer evaluation of government's proper role and return unused taxes to the people from whom they were drawn.
The success of big government today is plainly based on the fact that, despite our complaints to the contrary, we are all too willing to accept the favors when offered. They are counting on that, and it just fuels the engine.
In words popularized during the Reagan administration … just say "No".
Do Accept ResponsibilityResponsibility means that we will refuse to buy that sneaker the manufacture of which insults our sense of fairness. It means we will forego our weekly pizza in the shop that won't serve our neighbors. And it means that we will not accept that special loan from the government, knowing as we do that our neighbors are sporting the cost of the low interest rate.
It also means that if we cause an accident, we will not run from it; if we make a bad decision in life, we will not demand that our neighbor or our government bail us out. All these things, everything to do with accepting responsibility for our choices, will create some degree of hardship for us.
To hide from a bad situation is human--Peter denied Jesus three times when it was safer to do so--but to stand up for what we have caused, what we have allowed, and what we believe in makes us better, stronger people and real Americans.
Focus On FairnessWhen we make most decisions in life, we have an opportunity to be either fair or unfair in the path we choose. It may only be fair or unfair to ourselves but, more than likely, there is someone else involved.
It may be something that has an immediate and felt impact, such as whether we choose to lie to someone for our own gain. Or it may just be a decision governing how we feel about something, a decision that quietly repositions how we may respond in the future.
When we choose to join an exclusive group--which is our right, certainly--and then crusade against another organization that discriminates on any basis, we are hypocrites. We have not arrived at our position based upon any standard of fairness, our protestations aside.
If we accept as proper that tax money should be used to build a new stadium for our favorite pro team, but should never, ever be used to support artists or chicken farmers, then we are hypocrites. Our views are not fair or balanced, but wholly focused on "Me".
If we feel that the fellow who ran the stop sign and bent our fender should pay not only for the fender, but for our early retirement as well, then we are forgetting that we may also run a stop sign. Wagers are that we will not then share the same view of restitution. We are not weighing the situation fairly, we are just being greedy. Greed tends to come full circle.
And even if none of these actual situations confront us, we very often form the same conflicting opinions in our minds--opinions which, if ever put to work, are hypocritical. Hypocrisy is, alas, another normal human trait, one from which none of us is totally exempt.
But let's not let that keep us from trying. Focus on being fair.
Help Build Your CommunityIn a free country, our community is our life-line.
We may never need to call upon it for anything more than social opportunities or assorted local services. But if the worst should befall us, our community and everything that goes with it--our local church, our community emergency services, and most of all our caring neighbors--will be there.
And our community is, or should be, our window on self-determination. Closely knit communities are our opportunity to hash out what we really believe in, and our support for taking tough positions that require some degree of self-sacrifice. Communities are also the best source for potential office-holders who will stand for the principles they have already made clear.
It's tough to form old-fashioned communities in a world where good roads and long work hours allow us to use our neighborhoods only for a quick nap between commutes. But while the best communities live together, a community can also exist at work, at play, or under almost any situation where people who care about each other and share many similar values spend time together.
Whether our community is where we live or somewhere else, we're selling ourselves short when we don't work to build it. If we can't build a community, we certainly cannot hope to build one nation.