Over the past few weeks since the election. Many have asked "what are we to do now?" It is a challenging and delicate assignment to discuss what good freedom-loving citizens should be doing in a country that seems to be deteriorating around us. Some have resorted to fatalism and concluded all is lost. A few observers have even asked if NCCS has given up. May we spend a few minutes together, by this letter, and perhaps help put this election into perspective and share with you what we think our Founders would do and say if they were here today?
What Really Happened In The Election of 1996
First of all, there is no question that America will continue to feel the pressure of change in an adverse direction. However, we cannot lay the blame on one person. Our system of government was so devised that no one person could destroy it. The key is for the people to insist that the system of checks and balances, designed to prevent the abuse of power, really work. With this being done, America can and will survive.
Article II of the Constitution outlines just six areas in which the president had authority to function. It was Jefferson, the great constitutionalist President, who proclaimed at one point that there really isn't that much for the president to do!
It is the Congress - the representatives of the people - who controls the power of government. Congress appropriates the money. Congress funds the president and his executive branch. Congress funds the judiciary. Congress funds the military. Congress approves appointments made by the president. Congress is the key to saving America. Let's look for a moment what happened to Congress in the last election.
Human Events, in its November 15, 1996 edition, summarizes the election as follows:
"Despite media and Democratic attempts to spin the results to their benefit, the elections last week were actually an enormous victory for conservatism.
"For the first time in 68 years a Republican House was reelected. The Republican Senate majority expanded from six votes to a probable ten. Senators Bob Smith (R.-N.H.) and Jesse Helms (R.-N.C.), two of the most stalwart conservatives in recent Senate history, were returned to office despite dogged attempts to defeat them by virtually every liberal advocacy group in America.
"From the Southeast to the Northwest, seats vacated by moderate Republicans were filled by younger, more conservative partisans.
"Even Republican defeats revealed a silver lining. The most notable GOP loss in any single Senate race came in Massachusetts-where incumbent Gov. Bill Weld, a pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-gun-control, born-again big spender, lost his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
"Bill Clinton failed to win a majority of the popular vote.
"The message of the 1996 election is clear: Conservatism wins. Liberalism loses.
"The Washington Post itself was forced to admit the truth. Wrote liberal columnist David Broder: 'Exit polls confirmed [that] ...more people said they fear a Democratic Congress would be too liberal than thought a Republican Congress would be too conservative. By 5 to 4, they said government should do less, not more-a clear signal for continued fiscal austerity and against new federal programs."
Does this not give great hope to freedom-loving Americans? Does this not give an indication that our Constitutional system, as crumpled as it may be, still provides the vehicle whereby citizens can save themselves from tyrants. Does this not give an indication that there are still millions of right-thinking fellow Americans throughout our country who are trying to do what they can to right the wrongs they see? Perhaps we are approaching a test of each of us as individuals - a test whereby each one needs to ask himself, "How much does my freedom really mean to me?"
An Answer To Us From Thomas Jefferson
The great Thomas Jefferson provides an example in his later life that is instructional for us all. He died on July 4, 1826 at the age of 83. Just eight months before, he had become alarmed at the obtrusiveness of the federal government upon the rights of the states and the people. He drafted a document to be adopted by the Virginia General Assembly entitled Declarations and Protest of the Commonwealth of Virginia, on the Principles of the Constitution of the United States of America, and on the Violations of them. Keep in mind this is in 1825, just 36 years after the adoption of the Constitution. This great Founder had already noticed a beginning departure from the balanced, limited government of the Constitution, and so he wrote, "...the federal branch has assumed in some cases, and claimed in others, a right of enlarging its own powers by constructions, inferences, and indefinite deductions from those directly given, which this assembly does declare to be usurpations of the powers retained to the independent branches (states), mere interpolations into the compact, and direct infractions of it.
"They claim, for example, and have commenced the exercise of a right to construct roads, open canals, and effect other internal improvements within the territories and jurisdictions exclusively belonging to the several States, which this assembly does declare has not been given to that branch by the constitutional compact, but remains to each State among its domestic and unalienated powers, exercisable within itself and by its domestic authorities alone."
As though writing to all Americans in the present and future generations Jefferson then explained why we should be willing to make any sacrifice necessary to correct this imbalance in order to make this great experiment work. Said he: "We owe every other sacrifice to ourselves, to our federal brethren, and to the world at large, to pursue with temper and perseverance the great experiment which shall prove that man is capable of living in society, governing itself by laws self-imposed, and securing to its members the enjoyment of life, liberty, property, and peace...."
Then, as though peering down the corridor of America's history to 1996, Thomas Jefferson gives his best advice to those of us who wonder what we should be doing in our present crisis. What he said really encompasses the mission of the National Center for Constitutional Studies and should be the objective of every individual citizen who loves liberty. Said he: "...and further to show, that even when the government of its choice shall manifest a tendency to degeneracy, we are not at once to despair but that the will and the watchfulness of its sounder parts will reform its aberrations, recall it to original and legitimate principles, and restrain it within the rightful limits of self-government." (Public Papers 17 482:1)
We Have A Great Mission To Perform
Can we not then conclude that: 1) We who know the Founders' original success formula represent the "sounder parts" of our country, and 2) we find our country in a state of degeneracy, and 3) if we are to save it, we are not to despair, and 4) there are more representatives in our state legislatures and in Congress who are open to Constitutional ideas than have been there in many years, and 5) there are yet millions of people in the United States who would respond to the Founders' message if they just knew where to find it, and 6) it is worth every sacrifice we can make to save our nation for ourselves , our posterity, and for the world?
Assuming these are the sincere feelings of your heart concerning our beloved country, may I offer a few suggestions to consider.
Introducing Your Friends to The Miracle of America Audio Tape Series
When Dr. Skousen produced the Miracle of America Constitution Study Course on audio tape in 1981, I made a commitment that over a period of several weeks I would sell three sets a day to my acquaintances. Nearly every person I saw bought a tape album and study guide. Here's what I did.
First, I bought several sets from NCCS so as to get a discounted price on each one. I then made an appointment with three friends each day. I told them I only needed about ten minutes of their time. I took with me a tape album, the study guide, and a small tape recorder. After greeting my friend at his office or home, I handed him the Miracle of America Study Guide and \asked him to turn to a page I had previously selected. Then I played the tape for a few minutes letting him listen to Dr. Skousen and follow along in the study guide. Needless to say, that technique made a great impression and usually resulted in the person saying, "I'd like to have this for my family." I said the 12-tape album and study guide sells for $59.95 and I can let him have this one if he likes. Sale made. I personally sold a number of elected officials this great story of America and its Constitution and have had several of them thank me over the years for the information. Is this not something any of us could do?
Flooding the Nation With The Five Thousand Year Leap
Of all the books one can read on the American nation, I believe the book The Five Thousand Year Leap can do more to help save America than nearly any other. It will help fulfill Jefferson's desire to "recall [the federal government] to original and legitimate principles and restrain it within the rightful limits of self-government." In the Forward, Senator Orrin Hatch indicates how widespread The Five Thousand Year Leap ought to be throughout the land. Says he:
"Here is a book which should have been written 200 years ago. On the other hand, that may have been impossible. We may have needed the obstacles and experiences of the past two centuries to furnish us with a frame of reference which would help us understand what the Founders were trying to tell us.
"I am also pleased that this book is easy to read. It is presented in a way which makes it readily understood. Too many digests on the thinking of the Founders are too complex to be enjoyed and too divergent with trivia and technical details to be fully comprehended without the most laborious study.
"This volume is concise and carefully researched. It is the kind of stimulating book I should like to see being studied in all of our high schools and universities. It would be equally profitable reading for members of Congress and Justices of the Supreme Court. I would recommend it to the White House staff and the officers of executive agencies who are seeking guidance in solving the complex problems which face America today. I believe that any solution which does violence to the fundamental thinking of the Founders will fail. America needs a stronger track record of success in many areas. We will do better if we go back and study the Founders again."
I have personally placed copies of this book in many ways. I have given it as a gift to officials who have just been elected to public office. I have encouraged this book to be used as a high school textbook and felt the excitement of students in learning the 28 Principles of Liberty contained in it. I have met with groups of families and neighbors in homes to methodically go through the book, principle by principle ( see our Evening a Month for America Discussion Guide). I have even given The Five Thousand Year Leap as a wedding gift! (My wife chuckles at times about this one but I remind her it may do more good than another toaster!) NCCS will make these books available at a most economical price to help you have them when opportunities present themselves.
Sponsor or Co-Sponsor a Live Making of America Seminar in Your Area
Another way one can exhibit a spirit of sacrifice to save America is by hosting a live seminar. This does take work, but is most rewarding. NCCS has already scheduled several seminars for the first two months in 1997 in Idaho, Texas, Nebraska, Arizona, and Washington. We would love to come to your state or community as well.
In conjunction with this, may I make another plea for you to be a monthly, regular contributor to NCCS. As much as possible we expect each seminar to pay for itself. There are, however, a few places we have been requested to bring seminars where it is difficult to expect them to pay for themselves. One place is Washington D. C. We are currently working on arrangements to have one for newly elected Congressmen and their staffs. With so many groups in the nation's capitol lobbying for a Congressman's time, few would actually put out money for a seminar until they know how really valuable it is. Your $10 or more each month is extremely valuable to help put on such events. We feel 1997 will be a big year for us in these areas and hope you can see the wisdom of stretching a bit to help us.
Thomas Jefferson Pleads With Us To Do It!
These four techniques I have mentioned to help spread the message of liberty are ways any citizen can help fulfill Jefferson's dream of restoring the delicate, balanced government the Founders gave us. Here are two more pleadings from his pen:
"The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches, and we must be contented to secure what we can get, from time to time, and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to persuade men to do even what is for their own good." (The Real Thomas Jefferson, page 524)
"The last hope of human liberty in this world rests on us. We ought, for so dear a stake, to sacrifice every attachment and every enmity.
"When we reflect that the eyes of the virtuous all over the earth are turned with anxiety on us as the only depositories of the sacred fire of liberty, and that our falling into anarchy would decide forever the destinies of mankind and seal the political heresy that man is incapable of self-government, the only contest between divided friends should be who will dare farthest into the ranks of the common enemy." (The Real Thomas Jefferson, page 525)
Surely the Prince of Peace Would Have Us Do It!
As we celebrate the coming of Him who gave us the perfect formula for peace, may we remember that His formula can be most fully experienced in an atmosphere of individual and national liberty. Liberty leaves us free to build peace, peace within our family, peace within our community, peace within our nation, and eventually peace within our world. The Founders had a vision of it. They knew we could do it. The Prince of Peace expects us to do it. May His blessings be upon you and yours this season.
Merry Christmas from NCCS,
Earl Taylor, Jr.