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Option #3: #NeverAgain

One of the worst aspects of the modern political atmosphere in the United States is the two-party system.  We the people align with one of two parties and (most of the time) end up compromising one of their foundational beliefs just to vote for the person elected to represent their party in a general election.  Candidates constantly try to demonize each other and the other party in order to get votes and, anymore, to generate Internet traffic.

Trump has been the master of publicity.  He has used his knowledge of popular culture and how it can be manipulated (gained through his time on The Apprentice) and an acute sense for the outrageous to bring about this populist revolution within the Republican Party.  On the other side, we have a self-proclaimed democratic socialist who has proposed ideas that I believe would run this country into the ground and an egomaniacal autocrat-in-hiding that has lied repeatedly about her involvement with this Benghazi debacle (something that I was not as worried about until recent developments in the case against her) and might actually have planted Trump as a candidate within the Republican Party to sabotage it from the inside.

As a Christian who is re-discovering his faith, I find myself at a loss for words when someone brings up politics anymore.  I began my undergraduate education at Saint Anselm College–the site of the New Hampshire primary debates every four years–in the Politics department.  People used to sigh and roll their eyes whenever I opened my mouth because I could not stop talking about politics and I was so opinionated that nobody wanted to engage me.  Over the past three years or so I have tempered my views a bit and have (tried to) become less outspoken, but have still maintained a hardline minarchist view of what the government should and should not be responsible for and what they should and should not be allowed to do.

The two parties are a farce.  Besides the fact that they divide Americans into two camps, the two camps have begun to look strikingly similar when their core beliefs are analyzed.  Each wants government control of something that government should not be in control of.  When faced with this choice in the last election, I folded and voted for Mitt Romney to ensure that Gary Johnson would not “steal my vote” and allow President Obama to win another election.

Looking back, I have gleaned three things from my first voting experience: 1) I should have not compromised my decision to vote for the Libertarian Party, even though Gary Johnson is far from the ideal candidate; 2) my vote really doesn’t matter; 3) none of the candidates in the field deserved or will deserve my vote until something changes.  The way that we have begun to think about politics is totally upside down.  We have stopped voting with our conscience.

If you had asked me a year ago whether or not a candidate’s moral background mattered to me I would have answered with a resounding “absolutely not.”  Today, I don’t feel that way.  We as an electorate have to begin to evaluate the kind of individuals that we are sending to represent us in Washington and in our state capitols.  No longer can we sit idly by and watch Fox News or CNN and get the full story behind what our politicians are doing and how they are doing it.  Disillusionment is understandable at this point, but something must be done.

I will not vote in the next election, nor will I vote in any further election in which I cannot find a candidate that exhibits the characteristics of a moral human being.  Politicians need to be held to a higher standard if they are to be allowed to serve in the offices they currently hold.  Lying to get votes or to avoid punishment for crimes committed.  Antics that incite violence and hatred and division amongst people should not be tolerated.  None of it should look like a horse race.  Each candidate should be judged on their merits and their answers to questions, which seems to have been completely ignored in most of the recent elections.  Candidates have become so adept at dodging original questions and completely avoiding the subject that it has simply become commonplace and we just expect it to happen.  No longer.

The most common response I get when I tell people that I’m not voting is: “well then you can’t talk about it or complain for the next four years.”  I love this response because it is so easily refuted.  It’s a classic fallacy.  Even though I have not participated, I have a moral obligation as a Christian to submit to whatever regime that I might find myself under.  This means that by not voting, I and other moral absentees from the voting process are declaring that while we will abide by the public’s decision, we are not by any means happy with it.

And so, on the eve of my undergraduate education and as another general election dawns, I will not vote.  And I will continue to complain about politics and the way that government and elections operate today in the United States.  And I will not stop because something needs to be said.  Voices are growing louder across the nation but they are still not as loud as tumblr and Twitter and Facebook and NBC and Fox.  I hope that these masses know that they have but one choice in this next election, and it involves sitting at home and downing a six pack while the election results pour in and the next despot is ushered in by the electoral college.  Nothing will change until we realize that something is wrong.



An Open Letter to My Generation, on Patriotism

I’ll be honest with you: I am completely against using our military abroad if we are not taking direct defensive action.  I believe that most of the things that our military is engaged in at the moment have nothing to do with protecting the home front.  However, this is all beside the point.  What I believe and my political affiliations have nothing to do with it.  Wednesday was Veteran’s Day, but it sure didn’t feel like it.

I live on a college campus.  It’s its own little bubble of happiness and a carefree lifestyle that is so insulated from the outside world that it’s appalling sometimes.  I was in class on Wednesday and something happened that shocked me.  The class was ending and everyone was packing their bags up to leave.  As we all did this, my professor mentioned that it was, in fact, Veteran’s Day and that we had a veteran of Afghanistan in our class.  The guy sits at the front of the class and wears his hair high and tight.  He even has a camo backpack that looks like a standard military issue and I had never put two and two together before this point.  When my professor was done making his statement, I started to clap and stand up, only to be greeted by confused stares from the people around me and an awkward silence.  The veteran began to stand up with the rest of the class and his eyes were searching for anything to grab onto.  Everyone shuffled past him and put their computers away, then hurried out he door.  He looked dejected.  It was absolutely heartbreaking.

I don’t know why I didn’t immediately chase him down and tell him that I appreciated his service.  The moment just hit me and I never really even thought that something like this could be possible.  Growing up, I had always been told to respect the military and all the sacrifices that they made for my freedom.  Even though I’ve started to doubt the military’s role in today’s world, and I would rather live in a world where militaries were used less often, I still have so much respect for someone who will leave home and everything they hold dear for months (sometimes years) on end to fight people on foreign soil that would see us all dead if they could.  Men like that veteran in my class are the reason that we sleep safe at night, and nobody in that class saw it fit to give him a little gratitude on the one day of all days (if not every day) of the year when he should feel that from those around him.

And so, I write this letter.  Not to my classmates, not to kids on college campuses, but to my generation.  Don’t lose this.  We’ve lost a lot already and we’re proving that we are not fit to be in charge in so many ways, but we can’t lose our patriotism.  If we can’t learn to move past our differences, our political affiliations, the way that we feel about certain issues, etc. to just take a second and respect someone that has done us a service, whether we asked them to or not, then we are truly lost.  Those of you that know me know that I am the first one to shrug off civil religion and the advancement of statism in the minds of the populace, but I will never lose respect for the men and women of our armed forces.

So everyone, please go out of your way to thank someone who has served or is currently serving this great nation.  Even if you’ve known them forever, they’ve probably never heard you say those words: “thank you for your service.”  Those are the words that they need to hear from each and every one of us.  We may not agree with why they went to war or what they did while they were away, but that has nothing to do with the fact that they sacrificed so much for us who have given them so little.  They truly deserve everything that we have to give them and more, and a lot of them get nothing when they return.

Thank a veteran.  Never forget the sacrifices that have been made.


What Happened to the Enlightenment?

We love to appeal to antiquity.  It seems like the past holds infinite knowledge about how to better the world that we live in.  Makes sense, right?  Those that have come before us are always the ones that we go to for advice on the problems that we face, whether it’s parents, grandparents, uncles, friend’s parents, etc.  They know more about life because they’ve lived it.  They know what happens and how to deal with it.  However, we do sometimes come up with questions that they can’t answer.

The tendency nowadays is to try and figure things out on our own.  We like to be “progressive” ever since the 1930s because that means that we are moving forward.  We are bettering ourselves and we don’t need someone who lived over a hundred years ago to tell us how to solve our problems.  Our problems that we are facing today are so much more advanced that the writings of people like Kant, Locke, Jefferson, Voltaire, and the like are basically defunct.  Outdated.  Useless.  Basically only valid in the setting of academia and those who would rather sit in an ivory tower than interact with the rest of the “real world”.  To those who would say that, I would say this: what makes you think that you are smarter than Immanuel Kant?  Benjamin Franklin?  Thomas Hobbes?  Have you done the reading that they have?  Have you thought about things as thoroughly as they have?  Have you actually considered that they might have gotten something right, or are you just so concerned with pushing your own agenda that you find it easier to just pretend that they weren’t there and that antiquity is completely irrelevant?

Our country used to be a lot better place than it is today.  Sure we are the wealthiest country in the world right now, but we used to stand for something better.  The Framers wrote the Constitution with the idea in mind that government and people were self-serving and that no government was inherently good.  They put limitations on what it could do.  They instituted checks and balances so that no branch of the federal government could become too powerful.  They made sure that everything that wasn’t mentioned in the document was to be left up to the STATES for interpretation and implementation.  However, times have changed.  We have “progressed”.  We have taken steps forward, sure, but toward what?  To what end?

Have we really made choices that have worked for the betterment of society, or were they simply to further an agenda?  Is the direct election of senators really a good idea?  The Founders would not have thought so, given the fact that they specifically didn’t write that part into the Constitution.

To think that some people believe that older minds are somehow more primitive and less thoughtful is ignorant, and it’s appalling.  Without those men, those people would not be able to say what they want to say.  The United States was a grand experiment the likes of which had never been seen before, and it was a country that was based on the idea that the individual was free to do what the individual pleased, as long as they didn’t infringe upon the rights of other individuals.  At the point in our history where the federal government was almost nonexistent around the time just before and then after World War I, our economy was smashing through the roof.  Things were going well (even though the Progressives might have said otherwise) and for some reason, we had to elect a communist.  FDR turned this country into what it is today, and it is a shadow of its former self.  We allowed The State to manipulate us into thinking that the best way forward was on our own with new collectivist ideas that were spreading all over the world, when, in fact, the opposite was true.  We didn’t look to the other countries that had become solely collectivist and statist at heart and see them for what they were.  We didn’t see the destruction, we only saw an opportunity for improvement upon those ideals.  The failure to see that those ideas were inherently evil and destructive to a free society is what got us in the end.  We were lied to.

If we are going to salvage what’s left of the United States and rebuild, we must return to the ideals that we were founded on.  We must re-discover what it means to truly be a free society and re-examine what we really want from the government, because whatever we get from them was taken from someone else.


The Man Behind the Curtain

It pains me to watch, via live-stream, the nation that I call home descend so quickly into ignorance and blind rage over something that should be solely regarded as a horrible tragedy, all because of the shameless baiting of a mainstream media that seems to only be focused on perpetuating falsities and stoking a fire that should have been put out at the very start of the investigation surrounding the death of Michael Brown.

As Robert McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, MO, fielded questions after he released the statement yesterday that Darren Wilson was not going to be indicted, reporters tried time and time again to bait him into saying something racially charged, in an effort to change the entire conversation surrounding what he had just said.  After being extremely honest and direct during his initial address (something that God only knows we need in this country: someone to tell us to wake up and stop listening to social media and irrational news networks that blew this entire situation out of proportion before the investigation had even begun) the reporters who were sitting in the audience immediately began to attempt to change the subject to race, which McCulloch adamantly and skillfully countered with each response.

The problem here is the underlying motivations that our government is starting to show.  A man was killed, and that is not to be ignored; but there is something much larger than Michael Brown’s death going on within our nation.  Things like this get sensationalized by the mainstream media all the time.  For a while, they tried to make the majority of the argument surround the question of “gun rights,” which honestly shouldn’t be a question at all.  The fact that Michael Brown was black and Darren Wilson was white opened up all sorts of doors for the media to try and twist the story, make it more dramatic, draw people in, and start to build tensions as it always tries to do nowadays.  The information that was being fed through the pipeline, whether it was network news or social media, was constantly being designed to keep the attention on the incident that happened in Ferguson rather than on other things that are much more important to the advancement and the recovery of the United States of America.

With the trial being over, the only thing left for those people to do that have been–somewhat peacefully–protesting this whole time but to riot.  Why wouldn’t they?  This is all about race, isn’t it?  Isn’t racism something to riot about?  If a black cop had killed a white kid, nobody would say anything.  But because it was the other way around, this is now a national news story that received, at times, twenty-four hour news coverage regardless of whether or not something was actually happening.

The government now has a reason to move in and start to create the police state that they have always longed for.  In President Obama’s address following the news that there would not be an indictment was chilling to say the least.  He had just BLATANTLY ignored the Constitution the day before with his executive order that granted amnesty for thousands of illegal immigrants, and yet got on national television to tell the millions of serfs under his absolute control not to break the law or to cause damage to people or property.  That was just the beginning.  He then proceeded to explain how he was formulating plans to send Eric Holder around telling police departments, both state and local, how they should reform their ways.  While this may not sound like much, that’s what scares me.  It’s vague.  It leaves a lot of room for interpretation and for things to be brought out of it that something that was stated specifically just wouldn’t leave room for.

I am in no way trying to diminish the fact that a man died in Ferguson back in August.  I am not denying that Michael Brown was shot multiple times by Darren Wilson, and that his motives may not have been as pure as they should have been.  My heart goes out to the Brown and the Wilson family, and I hope and pray that this tragedy can bring some sort of healing elsewhere, if not in Ferguson and St. Louis.

However, the physical evidence, coupled with witness testimony compared against the physical evidence, did not produce enough substantive information with which the grand jury could charge Wilson with committing a crime.  That’s it.  It’s done.  The feds have it now.  What we should do, as a nation, is learn from this and better ourselves and those around us.  We can’t resort to violence and we can’t allow the media to continue to lie to us and make us believe things that aren’t true, just so they can get a rise out of the populace.  By getting people to riot, the media in turn furthers the government’s end-goal, which is to see us all in chains and at the mercy of the proclamations of Washington.  Obama has already shown that he will bypass every check and balance that the Constitution is meant to uphold, so we can’t rely on him to make the right decision.  We must realize what is going on here, and stop allowing it to happen.


A (Very) Delayed Post About the Fifth of November

Imagine sitting at the execution of Guy Fawkes, thinking about what had happened and what the man was actually responsible for.  He had planted explosives in the basement of Parliament and planned to blow it up in protest of the government that was in power at the time, and did it in the name of liberty.  The cool wind brushes your face as you solemnly watch the perpetrator, hooded in black, ascend the steps to be beheaded.  He walks up slowly, with dignity, and places his head on the block to be taken by the executioner, because he knows what he’s done.  You know what he’s done.  But do you condemn his actions?

The Million Mask March, Anonymous’ interpretation of what Guy Fawkes Day should consist of, is a sign that we are beginning to wake up as a nation.  The main difference between the Fifth of November in the United States and the United Kingdom is the fact that we value the individual over the collective.  Guy Fawkes tried to uproot an oppressive regime during his time, but he was still labeled to be a domestic terrorist and was executed, so that’s what the British think about when they hear Fawkes’ name.  They immediately turn to an almost catastrophic event in their nation’s history where their legislature was almost wiped off the face of the planet in a matter of seconds, much like we turn to 9/11 when we hear anything about what’s happening in the Middle East.  These events are what shape our viewpoints on certain things that our government does, and this is the problem.

Even in the UK, there are people who believe that Fawkes, while he was technically a domestic terrorist, represents an ideal that goes far beyond what he planned to do.  The fact that he was passionate enough to even threaten to blow up Parliament, all because he thought that the government that was in power at the time was oppressive or wasn’t fit for the people of Britain.  He made a statement, that there would be no peace for a ruling body that thought that they could run over the people without having a little bit of fight coming back at them.  Today, Guy Fawkes masks are worn by Anonymous members–and regular people alike–in the spirit of uprising.  The general consensus has come back and said that violence might be the answer for these people, which saddens me greatly.

In Ferguson, those who thought that they were on the side of the “good guys” started to become violent toward police and sparked even more protests and tensions rose.  Instead of protesting peacefully, they decided to take things up a notch and they caused more trouble than was necessary in the process.  Even though their cause might have been the right one, they certainly went about it in the wrong way.

Violence cannot be the answer.  The state will use violence and shock and awe to try and discourage anyone from rising up and voicing their opinions at some point, and those who choose the public square over a jail cell will have to make a choice: will they use violent measures to get their point across or not?

If we are to be successful in our endeavors and get accomplished what needs to be accomplished, we must not use violence to convey our personal messages.  We need to act in a state of nonviolent protest, focused on the fact that we are people who are displeased with our government rather than how we are going to inflict the next wound.  Nonviolence shows that we are willing to be reasonable and to possibly discuss options with those in power on how to resolve the inevitable conflict that we will face peacefully, rather than descending into a never-ending vicious cycle of killing people and pointing fingers trying to place the blame on the other party.


When Will We Learn?

We have somehow found a way to become more and more dependent on those in power to tell us what to think as the generations have come and gone.  The country, when it first started out, was learning some lessons that wound up getting learned the hard way.  We had rebellions, wars and a host of other horrible happenings that led to us finally learning the lessons that we were meant to learn.  As we examine the country today, we see that there are some lessons that we apparently haven’t learned.

First, on wars.  The fact that we all want to see the eradication of atrocities around the world is admirable.  We have always believed in the greater good, and the power of opportunity.  Without this, the United States would not have been the nation that it was, and still is today.  However, we have tried too hard to force these same ideals on other people that we think want them and it has put us in some rather sticky situations.  The current engagement that we find ourselves in – moved forward by executive action (illegally, once again) rather than an actual declaration of war –  is one that I believe should be a really simple decision for the upper echelon of our defense organization.  They shouldn’t have even moved into that conflict in the first place.  The best thing would have been to let the whole thing ride out and try to maybe provide aid to the people who were stranded or displaced while not engaging anyone.  We would then show that we were not there to fight, but to help the people who need help.  The hard part would be watching the enemy do whatever they wanted once they figured out that they could “walk all over us” – so to speak – and do what they pleased now.

The eventual outcome, once they finally recognized our nonviolence as something more than just “submission”, they might actually be open to talk and see what they really wanted.  The displaced people of Palestine would probably be more willing to listen to someone who finally fulfilled one of the most basic demands that they’ve had since the beginning of this whole, the creation of the state of Israel.  However, the other side is true that they might not listen and do everything in their power to continue to hurt us on our soil.  But then who will be the martyr in that situation?  The United States, who just offered a white flag and a peace offering finally after all these years of conflict and of death, was now being attacked by the people whom they just obliged.  It might not sound exactly like that, but we’ll have some global support on that one.

Second, on the economy.  The more that I watch us and our government start to hurry the rush toward the financial edge, the more uneasy I get about our situation as a country.  We have always been smart with our money and that’s been a point of pride for us.  Through the last couple presidencies, we have changed our philosophy on spending and the size of government, and it’s starting to bite us.  Hard.  We’re taking on more and more debt every second, and the fact that our government is well over 100% of our national GDP is a bad sign for sure.  That means that we’re spending more on our government and keeping it running than we are on anything else, and this is simply because of all the programs that the government is in charge of now.  Without these institutions, what would happen?

We have become a generation that expects things to be given to them rather than us having to work for whatever we receive.  The government has created a group of people that are making more money than they should – their employees – and are starting to shrink the middle class bit by bit with these policies that mandate a higher pay rate for those that are under the direct employ of the federal government.  Our dollar is backed by almost nothing – more dollars – since we decided to stop backing our currency with gold way back when, and now it’s starting to show up in the fact that our currency is worth a lot less than it used to be when we backed it with a material that we actually had in store.  We used to make sure that we had the money before we spent it on something that would cost us, and now we just spend the money because we can always print more.  The power of the American dollar has become so diminished that some countries are starting to turn other places to borrow from because of our lack of responsibility when it comes to handling our national debt and credit.  Our national credit rating has dipped for the first time ever during Obama’s presidency, and nobody has called him out on it.

The current administration – while they may be attempting to do things for the good of the country – is doing more harm than actual good for the entire populace that it supposedly is trying to provide security for.  Back around the time of the turn of the century, even though the history books won’t tell you this, our country was the most successful it has ever been, and ever has been since.  The national budget was about 3% of the GDP and we came about as close as we have ever gotten to being completely dependent upon each other instead of the government for help.  The job market was huge, and the cost of living was way down.  This allowed for the quality of living to go up, and even though there were slums and places where poor people lived (there are always going to be those) the average man was able to earn a wage that would provide for himself and his family.  The women were put to work as well, and even though some families had to work two jobs for long hours, there still wasn’t much that could have been wanted for.  Legislation that stemmed from the publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was the start to the decline that we saw at the end of the 1920s, and eventually led to the stock market crash and the Great Depression.

We have this viewpoint – because of what’s being taught in schools nowadays – that says that the government saved us from the Great Depression and that the whole thing was caused by rampant greed in Wall Street and the economic elite, when actually it was the government regulations and union negotiations later on that caused the decline of the country and ended up stranding us in a global recession that lasted for far too long.  The programs that were put in place under the false pretense of stemming the tide of Wall Street evil doings, while fulfilling the “promise” that the government was going to be there to take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves.  The truth is, the most amount of charitable donations that this country has ever seen came about around the time of the turn of the century, and those who had money were giving it to those who didn’t, without the redistributive help of the federal government.

The thing is, we have all the facts in front of us but we just don’t care to look for them. We would rather be spoon-fed information from an armchair that we don’t know is true or not, so we just have to trust it.  The lessons that I’ve outlined have to be learned, or we’re going to perish as a nation.  There is enough unrest about the current and past policies of this administration to create some noise possibly, but we have to spread the word first.  There’s not going to be any way that we can do this separately, so we have to come together and realize the truth in order to set the entire country free from the bondage of government subsidy and charity, while also changing the way that we look at foreign conflict forever.


Am I on a list?

I often find myself asking this question when thinking about the things that I post online.  I have libertarian viewpoints, which obviously point to a distrust of government and a desire to have the size of the government reduced drastically.  The fact is, those in power do not like those who have a problem with authority.  I will admit that I do not like the fact that I have people who take money that I earn and waste it, monitor the things that I do online, take liberties away from me at will, and so on and so forth; but that does not mean that I will revolt agains the government.

I have advocated for revolt on here before.  I have said that it might be the only way that we can save our country from imploding.  I have even stated that the time for revolt might be close.  Nonviolent rebellion –  as odd as that sounds – is still not out of the question for me.  But does that mean that I should be placed on a list somewhere in the NSA database as a potential anarchist or someone who could possibly be a problem for the government in the near future?

I have no intention of killing anyone.  I have never posed an immediate threat to those in power other than the fact that I have posted my opinions online, and yet I have this feeling that I’m on a list somewhere.  Maybe it’s my distrust of the system.  Maybe I’m just paranoid.  I haven’t noticed any sort of change in my surroundings lately, but the things that I’ve seen happen in the government over the past couple years have started to make me a little more wary of the possibility that we might actually turn toward a police state very quickly.  Our governments have all the technology in place to make sure that they can keep tabs on every single citizen in the country at any given time, and the more they start to regulate what people can and cannot do, the more they start to move toward being able to change the face of our nation overnight.

That being said, I honestly don’t think that we will see something like that happen with this administration.  President Obama isn’t smart enough to want to take over the entire nation overnight and control the population because he knows that with his prior record, that would not stand for one second.  Even his supporters are starting to turn on him.  However, the individual that I’m most worried about is Hillary.  If she starts to make moves toward running in 2016, then we could be in for some real trouble.

She’s ruthless.  She’s cold.  She’s calculating.  She will do anything that it takes to get ahead and to make sure that she has the exact amount of control and power that she wants in any given situation.  I think that she did a great job as Secretary of State just because she was intimidating.  She walks into a room and instantly garners the respect of everyone in it.  I have a feeling that this might factor into future proceedings when and if she walks into the White House and has the capability to take control of the United States of America in one push of a button.

She must be held in check.  And now I’m definitely on a list.