So you say, "It is time for us to take back the freedoms that make us Americans." (June 20 editorial) Since you didn't specify just how to accomplish that noble objective, let me speculate:
All our traditional values were present at the creation on July 4, 1776. We were a capitalist, Christian nation that discovered that freedom from the coercion of a self-serving aristocracy was just what we needed to toss off unearned privilege and create an entirely new system, based mostly on Greek and Roman virtues, that respected individual rights and promoted tolerance.
What your editorial failed to point out is that while we Americans have many traditional values and rights, the most important is our right to revolution. Our right to revolution is a natural right as it emanates from God, and this right is explicitly stated in our Declaration of Independence. A close paraphrase tells us that "whenever ANY government becomes destructive of the right of the people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it is the right and the duty of the people to alter or abolish that government and start a new one, and that this unalienable right comes from God and cannot be rescinded by man."
Or, I might add, by the Supreme Court. We will always have this escape hatch to save our country and its traditions, but it seems that this concept is also the best-kept secret in America. Those who bray the loudest about our traditional values are the ones who least understand them. They rarely make the connection between our right to revolution, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, and our right to the MEANS of revolution, as stated in the Second Amendment of the Constitution.
American exceptionalism means we are the only country in the history of this planet that states its people have the right to overthrow it by force, should the need arise, and that its people may have firearms to protect the security of our free state. The founding fathers mistrusted wealth and privilege, and created our system of government that sought to prevent the accumulation of wealth and power in just a few hands.
What today's conservatives don't understand is that America has always been a capitalist country, but the TYPE of capitalism we suffer under today is different than the type of capitalism that existed in 1776. Today we labor under the corporate state which did not exist at the founding and wasn't legislated into existence until the 1830s (in order to organize the financing of the railroads). These conservatives cry that we need to get back to our traditional values, and I agree. To regain our prosperity, we need to get rid of the economic disease called Wall Street and replace it with our original Main Street system espoused by Jefferson.
The advent of the corporate state, fattened by war profiteering during our Civil War and further enriched by generous land grants gifted to the railroads, became a leviathan rampaging across our traditional "Mom and Pop" economy, while leaving in its wake the remnants of our traditional national culture of small-scale businesses. This walled off the entire Main Street sector from its traditional role as provider of widespread prosperity and as the backbone of a sturdy middle class.
Today the wealthy pay bribes to the corrupt Ivy League in order to buy their undeserving offspring an impressive diploma while the more hard-working and capable youth of the working class are denied their due. The wealthy elite and their apologists then claim that their America is a meritocracy when, in fact, the wealthy and their corporations pay billions of dollars to K Street lobbyists to protect and strengthen their special interests.
This comes after a decades-long campaign of union busting, gutting our manufacturing sector and sending millions of American jobs to a godless, communist China that treats its workers the way the American rich would like to be able to treat their own workers here.
And all the while, conservatives claim that they are the guardians of our traditional values. They insist that the original words in the Constitution are what we need to follow. Yet the conservatives support the Constitution only when it leads to more power and wealth for the corporate state. They blissfully ignore all the damage this "free" trade does to our economy and culture because it makes the corporations more powerful and richer (the better to finance conservative causes and Wall Street politicians), and causes unemployment that holds down wages and makes the rich even richer.
Yet the Constitution makes a clear statement, right at the beginning, of what the role of the government should be: to promote the general welfare. The general welfare of whom? Why, "We the People of the United States," of course. Search the Constitution high and low, and you'll find not a word about promoting the general welfare of the blood-drenched dictators of China, but that's what Wall Street actually does because that's where the profit is. The corporate state tries and succeeds in making OUR government work for it (especially with below-market, sweetheart deals for corporate use of federal lands) and against the interests of the "We the People."
We fought our first revolution to get out from under the malign influence of the British dukes, earls and lords, only to replace them with a new aristocracy populated with executive vice presidents, CEOs and board chairmen. Only a revolution will make America free and prosperous again for all the fine, honest folks who run Joe's Hardware and Mary's Cafe.
The revolution we need to get our country back will be more different than most revolutions, including our first one. We don't need to change our form of government; in that regard, we are near perfection. We need to liberate our government from the unconstitutional clutches of the wealthy and their corporate police state. We have the right and the tools to do so. All we need now is the spark.
Rick Gombas lives in Ray Brook.