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First Things First Even Really Old Ideas
Special to FreeRepublic ^ | 28 December 2007 | John Armor (Congressman Billybob)

Posted on 12/28/2007 10:32:39 AM PST by Congressman Billybob

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do read a lot of it. It saves hundreds of hours to read the transcripts of what interests me, after the broadcast. I get what I want, and skip all the commercials. Thus it was that today I read Neil Cavuto’s editorial, “Personal Responsibility is Being Banned in America.”

I like Neil. He comes across as a nice guy with a large amount of common sense. In the heart of that editorial, he wrote, “We're stupid. We're fat. We're lazy. We're clueless. And the government is coming in to make things right. Some of us welcome the help. I fear it. And here's why. Good intentions come at a cost, my friends. I'm not talking about the cost in dollars. I'm talking about the cost in dignity. Because this nanny state costs us our freedom, our self respect, our very being. They don't tell you that when they help you.”

I read that two days after opening with great delight a gift from a dear friend, a copy of David McCullough’s “Illustrated Edition” of “1776.” And one day after watching the excellent made-for-TV movie, “The Crossing.” That tells the incredible story which McCullough’s book ends with. George Washington gambled the fate of the nation on a Christmas attack on the Hessians at Trenton.

Where’s the connection between these three different media?

Well, think about how and why we rose up against the King of England, fought a revolution, and gained our independence. Throw in this comment from Tom Paine, “Of greater worth in the eyes of society and God is one honest man, than all the crowned ruffians who ever lived.” Our objection to the King of England was that he owned us. He controlled our institutions; he (or his minions) told us what we could and could not do. Neither our government nor our society belonged to us.

Since the King was routinely referred to as the “father” of his nation, we took up arms against paternalism. And how did we do that? We did that by taking responsibility for our own fate. It is an incredible story that cannot be told too often, that General Washington gambled his entire remaining army and the fate of the whole nation, on a single battle in New Jersey, 231 years ago this week.

It is a sad and serious question to ask, but as we enter a new “silly season,” a new national election year, but it must be asked. Look at how many pathetic candidates are in the contest to be the next President of the United States? And in my judgment, and I’ll wager yours too, there are pathetic candidates in both the Republican and Democratic ranks in Iowa and New Hampshire. And all these candidates are there because too many of us have supported pathetic candidates.

So, we have to ask this question. Are we Americans becoming so “stupid, fat, lazy and clueless” that we are incapable any more of competent self-government? Have we descended into the abyss that H.L. Mencken described, when he wrote that “Democracy is the theory that the people get the government they deserve, good and hard.”

It is a narrow choice in answering that question. I chose to believe, and act on that belief, that America is not yet over the cliff. My credo is “First things first.” That begins with the principles which were built into our society by the winning of our freedom from King George, and built into government by the writing of our second Constitution, the one that was written in Philadelphia.

Those of us who care about politics tend to lose sight of the forest for the trees. We get so wound up in dozens of here-and-now issues that we fail to put things in context. We fail to see the end result of incremental bad decisions – bad decisions in all three branches of government, all three levels of government, and bad decisions in education, and in many places in the private sector.

Neil is quite right about where this is all headed. But we don’t have to wind up there. First things first.

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About the Author: John Armor practiced in the US Supreme Court for 33 years. John_Armor@aya.yale.edu He lives in the 11th District of North Carolina.

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TOPICS: Your Opinion/Questions
KEYWORDS: 1776; georgewashington; neilcavuto; trenton
I have a feeling that most FReepers will agree with the views expressed here. I am certain that every FReeper who has not seen "The Crossing" will be inspired and impressed by it. Also, take a look in book stores for the Illustrated Edition of 1776.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

John / Billybob

1 posted on 12/28/2007 10:32:42 AM PST by Congressman Billybob
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To: Congressman Billybob
Are we Americans becoming so “stupid, fat, lazy and clueless” that we are incapable any more of competent self-government?

No, it's just that “stupid, fat, lazy and clueless” have more votes...............

2 posted on 12/28/2007 10:35:14 AM PST by Red Badger ( We don't have science, but we do have consensus.......)
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To: Red Badger

and the stupid, fat, lazy, and clueless are running our government as well.


3 posted on 12/28/2007 10:42:46 AM PST by abstracTT
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To: Congressman Billybob
"We did that by taking responsibility for our own fate."

To make that decision alone is difficult, but doubly so when you may have to lay down your life in defense of that decision.

An excellent summation, CB. Thanks very much. One to kick off the New Year with -- and to read often.

4 posted on 12/28/2007 10:48:19 AM PST by Eastbound
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To: Congressman Billybob
Democracy in America, published in 1835, Tocqueville wrote of the New World and its burgeoning democratic order. Observing from the perspective of a detached social scientist, Tocqueville wrote of his travels through America in the early 19th century when the market revolution, Western expansion, and Jacksonian democracy were radically transforming the fabric of American life. He saw democracy as an equation that balanced liberty and equality, concern for the individual as well as the community. A critic of individualism, Tocqueville thought that association, the coming together of people for common purpose, would bind Americans to an idea of nation larger than selfish desires, thus making a civil society which wasn't exclusively dependent on the state.
5 posted on 12/28/2007 10:52:01 AM PST by digger48
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To: Congressman Billybob

Amateur historians here may consider this site that I accidentally stumbled on while looking to see if the story of Hessians being short were so;

http://americanrevolution.org/hessindex.html


6 posted on 12/28/2007 11:22:12 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
“Democracy is the theory that the people get the government they deserve, good and hard.”

I love this line.

7 posted on 12/28/2007 11:52:31 AM PST by boop (Democracy is the theory that the people get the government they deserve, good and hard.)
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To: Congressman Billybob
Are we Americans becoming so “stupid, fat, lazy and clueless” that we are incapable any more of competent self-government?

Let's see, that was on Final Jepoardy last night...

( /sarc barely off)

8 posted on 12/28/2007 12:03:38 PM PST by Old Sarge (This tagline in memory of FReeper 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub)
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To: Eastbound
Thank you. I didn’t set out to write a “year-end piece,” or to write something good enough to deserve re-reading. But sometimes the subject and the material I have to work with cause an occasional column to rise above the average level.

Glad you liked this. I appreciate your compliment.

John / Billybob

9 posted on 12/28/2007 1:23:50 PM PST by Congressman Billybob (www.ArmorforCongress.com)
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