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Combatting the federal leviathan

Steven Begakis | Sunday, September 1, 2013

At every sporting event, we all join together in song for our national anthem, hailing the stars and stripes that “yet wave … o’er the land of the free.” But do we still live in a free country?
In his New York Times best selling book, ‘The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic,’ constitutional lawyer Mark Levin argues our society is currently grounded on a “post-constitutional soft despotism,” and proposes a solution for returning to constitutional government.
At this you may be rolling your eyes. “I can go to a football game, go to the bar, go out to dinner, go to the movies, watch Netflix and do all sorts of things,” you respond. “Of course I’m free.”
Free, unless you’re an entrepreneur trying to start a business. Unless you’re a Christian photographer who objects to taking pictures of a gay wedding. Unless you’re a Catholic business owner who refuses to pay for your employee’s abortion procedures. Unless you’re a conservative or tea party group trying to get an exemption from the Internal Revenue Service. Unless you’re seeking a special medical procedure under the new Obamacare law.
We are no longer citizens in any meaningful sense, but subjects to an uncontrollable and insatiable federal leviathan. The federal government spends 25 percent of the GDP, which is 25 percent of our private property, the wealth we produce through our labor. In addition, it has borrowed over $17 trillion – about 100 percent of the GDP – and has unfunded welfare liabilities that exceed $90 trillion – over 500 percent of the GDP. All of these debts and promises will have to be paid for in taxes, which means the government owns us – five times over. Washington has enslaved us, our children and our children’s children to a bleak and miserable future with no sign of letting up.
The federal government, Levin explains, “is the nation’s largest creditor, debtor, lender, employer, consumer, contractor, grantor, property owner, tenant, insurer, healthcare provider and pension guarantor. Moreover, with aggrandized police powers, what it does not control directly it bans or mandates by regulation.” The ubiquitous nature of the federal tyranny is such that “nearly all will be emasculated by it, including the inattentive, ambivalent and disbelieving.”
Nineteenth century French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville predicted this omnipotent state and the damage that it would do to liberty and human progress.
He stated, “[The supreme power] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent and guided, men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence, it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies a people until each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”  Does that not describe 21st century America? More importantly, does that describe a free country?
There are those who seek to reform Washington by electing more federal politicians, but often they encounter a maddening truth: once so-called “reformers,” whether Republican or Democrat, reach Washington, they no longer make good on their promises to reform Washington. The absolute legislative power seized by Congress, the monarchical executive power maintained by the president and his legions of unaccountable bureaucrats, the oligarchical judicial power of nine lawyers in black robes, will never be willingly handed back to the people by the very rulers who profit from it. Consequently, voting has taken on a quixotic character.
But Levin offers a concrete solution: He calls for two-thirds of the state legislatures – 34 total – to invoke Article Five of the Constitution, calling a national convention for proposing constitutional amendments. There, the state delegates could propose a series of “liberty amendments” to restore constitutional limits on power and reaffirm individual liberties, including: term limits, a balanced budget, limits on taxes and spending, limits on the bureaucracy and much more. These amendments would then be ratified by three-fourths of the states – 38 total. Congress, the president and the Supreme Court would be completely bypassed. It is a ‘hail mary’ pass – the last gasp of a once great republic now on the verge of abandoning the principles of the American Revolution.
In order to see the wisdom of this strategy, one must first comprehend the tyranny we face. On Mar. 23, 1775, after the British attack at Lexington and Concord, Patrick Henry issued a resounding call to arms at the Virginia convention, in which he said, in part:
“Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it.”
If we shut our eyes to the truth of what is happening in this country and surrender our unalienable rights without a fight, we will, as President Ronald Reagan warned, spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States, where men were free. “Is life so dear,” asked Henry, “or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God.”
It’s time to take back our country, to demand that our state legislatures call an Article Five constitutional convention and pass a new Bill of Rights for the 21st century that will restore self-government. Let us, we the people, set aside meager party distinctions and work together to reclaim our birthright, the blessings of liberty, for ourselves and our posterity.