Daily Letters

A selection of letters received.

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July 22, 2004

The tumult of liberty

Dear George:

While we may never truly understand the political genius of those who fought for the independence of this country and established its institutions, enough is currently known about their motivations to safely say that the Framers feared tyranny. When kings sought to turn the burgeoning development of a colonial government into tools of tyranny, the Framers believed it was the right and duty of citizens to throw off such government. They told us so in the Declaration of Independence, and they honored that ideal by building a government based on separation of powers and federalism. They knew that power in the hands of the many prevented the abuses of power in the hands of the few.

Despite their concern about the evils of tyranny, it becomes increasingly difficult to avoid the tell-tale abuses of power that accompany the growing reaches of tyrannical politicans. Peace can never emerge from the shroud of fear, yet you have allowed your administration and your party to stoke a vulnerable public's emotions and deepest senses of horror. The rhetoric and policies emerging from our organs of government, ones that have witnessed more than 225 years of stability, are wrapped in the language of hubris and armed with the weapons of righteousness. But conviction by itself is destructive; a partnership with compassion and equanimity is always required to hone righteousness into justice, and pride into honor.

Meanwhile our politics is held grip to the worldview of only a small percentage of our country. Instead of debating values, we are told that only one morality exists. Instead of questioning assumptions, we adopt them wholeheartedly and set them in stone. Instead of looking forward into the future to plan a second prosperous American century, we plunge heavily into debt to satisfy the excesses of the ruling class. We are held captive to a "faction," something James Madison zealously warned and cautioned about in The Federalist Papers. When, "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion. . .adversed to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community," democracy itself becomes threatened. Yet while our Republic shakes, there is no call for alarm.

Finally, you cast doubt on the patriotism and well-meaning of those who would question the transformation of our country into a national security state. While the right to dissent was enshrined in this nation's founding document in the form of the First Amendment, you and your administration would ask the public to admire this liberty but never use it. And those who dare to employ their mental faculties in communication that you and your adminstration find offensive may discover that they are investigated or under surveillance. It is as if you believe our freedom is so precious, that it should not be used at all lest ill befall us. But treasuring liberty without employing its benefits, including the right to dissent, does nothing more than cage it away.

I urge you to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson, the one Framer who perhaps best exemplies that generation's passionate involvement with notions of liberty. He wrote, "Governments, wherein the will of every one has a just influence. . .has its evils,... the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam libertatem quam quietam servitutem. [I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.]" If you cannot reverse this country's spiral into the political evils our Founders took pains to educate us and warn us about, what are we to assume? Does the ancient scourge of tyranny take new form in a country whose foundation was intended to act as a beacon against it? We are at a cross-roads, and I urge you to be guided by the instict of the Framers, and reject tyranny. Discard their wisdom, and we enter a tunnel without end.

Dave
Age 24
New York, NY

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