For whatever it's worth, here is something I put together for my adult children, who so far have maintained a deep mistrust of the media (see, I did raise smart kids) and skepticism about politics. But I wanted to get some basics registered with them to think about sooner or later. I can only hope it will be useful to them.
Both of you prefer not to talk about politics, at least not to me, and I try to respect that.
However, the saying that "you may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you" does apply, and what goes on in the state capitol and DC ultimately affects your lives and the lives of your children and how our whole society functions. So for what it's worth, I'd like to give you some basic thoughts to just file away until you feel like thinking more about them.
What was in a way special about the American Revolution was that it was NOT a revolution to overthrow the whole order of things and create a new society with totally new rules, as for instance the French revolution and the communist revolution in Russia were, and how so many other revolutions have been. The colonists actually had experienced a lot of freedoms, more than most of the people of Europe at the time had, and had vibrant, fairly prosperous societies going in all the 13 of them, if slightly different in some points. But they didn't have quite all the freedoms that the citizens living in the UK did, and that got to be a bone of contention over time, and the more objections there were, the more the King told his agents to clamp down, and things spiralled down until the first shots were fired at a tiny town in Massachusetts.
Even then, among all the colonists it was roughly a third who supported the revolution, a third who wanted to just stay out of it, and a third who remained loyal to the King (called Tories), and in parts of the colonies, like here in North Carolina, the first years of the war were more or less a civil war with the revolutionary militias fighting the Tory militias and some British troops. But in the end the, sheer determination and brilliance of the leaders like Washington and others, plus the help of the French, outlasted the ability of the UK to continue to support the war, and it ended.
But what the Founders wanted was not to totally remake the society, but to safeguard it largely as it was, and put in a form of government that they hoped would always serve the people rather than rule them. It was a fantastic, wonderful idea and it worked out overall very well. Yes, it wasn't perfect at all, there were all the biases and injustices common to all the societies of those times, but bit by bit progress towards the ideals of the Declaration of Independence has been made, and we have had the most individual freedoms and highest prosperity of any nation ever on earth. Your great grandparents arrived here with nothing, in those times there were zero social benefits for immigrants, and they successfully made new lives for themselves that led to the lives your grandparents, your parents, and you have had since. This is a success story than cannot be neglected.
What the Founders always feared was the growth of government, since their studies of history had made them understand that as government grows its appetite for power grows too, and ultimately it will steadily eat away at the freedoms of the people. Huge bureaucracies have been the bane of people for millennia, that's just part of natural events when humans are involved.
Clearly the very limited government of 1782 is not appropriate or sufficient for 2016, the changes in society and the world have been enormous and government must evolve as a result. We do need a departments like Environmental Protection, Occupational Health and Safety, Federal Drug Administration, etc. Maybe not some, like Education, but for sure we don't need federal agencies that get so large and powerful they don't seem to answer to anyone and instead of being religiously apolitical allow themselves to become tools of politicians.
And that is exactly what we've been seeing happen for a long time, starting perhaps with Andrew Jackson, really developing with FDR, and most recently under Mr. Obama. The federal government has been issuing literally thousands of new rules and regulations every year, and anyone in business can tell you how this has added up to far more downsides than any benefits. Scandals with federal agencies like the IRS, the ATF, the FBI and the EPA have occurred, which undercuts our confidence on those who are supposed to be serving and protecting us.
Worst of all, at least in terms of what the Founders ever wanted, our electoral process has been corrupted by money and manipulation and irresponsible media, and a professional political class has been created that works far more for their own good than for ours. The frustration and concerns of so many about this are part of what has, allowed demagogues to take over campaigns and led to the horrendous choices we have in the current election. Our society is now badly polarized, divisiveness has grown tremendously, and various kinds of excesses are tearing at the fabric of the nation.
Meanwhile, the world has become a very dangerous place, and we have little to no control over that, other than to make sure we have the best military in the world. But our military has been badly damaged in the past years, so that's another concern.
I don't bring all this up to upset, scare, or depress you, but only to provide a picture that you should be aware of. We have to hope and pray for a lot better leadership than we've had for some time, we need healing in our society and a coming together rather than the divisiveness, and, I believe, a movement to trim government agencies and their power and make them again responsible to the people. And ideally, some reforms in our political system, like term limits and election reform, and demand our representatives make their first job to be working carefully and sensibly for the long term of all of us.
So when you start to think about whether to vote and how to vote, I hope some of this may be helpful. Right now I am profoundly unhappy with both political Parties, but keep praying at some point leaders will arise who will be a whole lot better for us than what we've seen lately. Ultimately in a democracy we get the government we deserve, even if we make the wrong choices because of biased media and manipulated inputs and smooth liars, so we need to be very careful in what we research and how we consider the actual facts rather than the smoke&mirrors the politicians put out.
Good luck with all this. Keep an eye on events, and if/when they start to really worry you about the future, apply yourselves carefully to whatever preparations you can make for the long term good and safety of your families.
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