The 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, once stated that if America dies, it would be by suicide. No enemy from abroad will write our last chapter, he insisted. It would be penned by us.
Initially, thoughts of radical social justice, political correctness and redistribution of wealth came to mind when I thought of things that could potentially be contributing factors of what Lincoln was talking about. But still, they are not themselves the big picture.
Abraham Lincoln, America's 16th president (Photo Credit: AP)
Last week, I attended a lecture that was presided over by Fox News personality Juan Williams, where he was discussing his new book, “We the People.” During his lecture, Williams posed the question, “What would the founding fathers think if they returned today?”
The very concept captured my imagination and reminded me of a similar fantasy I had heard years ago on a radio program.
The story placed Thomas Jefferson on the modern doorstep of a suburban American family, and after Jefferson explained who he was, the head of the household felt moved to invite the founding father in for a tour.
During the tour, Jefferson marveled at all of the appliances and technology in the house, asking several questions about each and evaluating them himself. As they moved through the home office, Jefferson noticed a stack of papers labeled "W2" and "1040." He inquired as to their purpose.
The head of household mentioned that the papers were his tax forms. Confused, Jefferson asked for a more detailed explanation. The man went on to explain that the forms were the government's most convenient way of collecting a portion of his earnings, and that every year he had to send them to a major agency known as the Internal Revenue Service, which tracked and audited the earnings reports.
If he didn't contribute what the government felt was enough, he'd be fined even more and potentially prosecuted for his failure to comply.
Still confused, Jefferson tried to justify these facts to himself, surmising that the department and forms must have been due to some current, major financial emergency.
The homeowner responded that taxes, like the ones he described, had been taken from him and other Americans for decades, and that the country is now over $19 trillion in debt - and still being taxed huge amounts to try to sustain government spending.
Jefferson wondered why the man and his fellow citizens would give such an enormous amount of personal earnings to a government that spent so irresponsibly.
The homeowner didn't really have an answer.
"A revolution was initiated for far less than this," Jefferson responded. "Is this what my brothers and I put our lives on the line for?"
Still silent, the man didn't know quite how to answer.
But everything was clear to Jefferson, who grew more frustrated.
Not saying another word, Jefferson nodded out of appreciation for the man's tour and headed out the front door, disappearing into the night.
The man stood motionless in his doorway, realizing that he had insulted Jefferson and the rest of the founding fathers for allowing the government to take so much uncontested, for losing so many rights over time, and for remaining ignorant to politics and the overstretched power of government.
However, during Williams' lecture, the author contended much more optimism when he mentioned that the founders would more than likely be thrilled that their Constitution and framework have endured as long as they have, noting several examples of progress and innovation that have allowed our country to thrive.
And while I don’t entirely disagree that the founders might be delighted to see we are still standing, we have allowed that very Constitution to be disrespected by those we empower to uphold it.
It is bigger than you or I not paying attention to bills on Capitol Hill, or our passive attitude toward sweeping executive orders that should be deemed unconstitutional, or allowing our judges to legislate from the bench.
The majority of Republicans seem to cite the Constitution only when it serves their progressive agenda. And our own president once publicly admitted he felt the document to be “deeply flawed.”
I mean, really... who needs a Constitution?
Our freedoms have been slowly rescinded over time, and little by little our liberty has also been exchanged for the promise of security and entitlements.
Heavy taxation, loss of rights, a Constitution ignored, executive powers that don't need approval from anyone, two political parties that have been completely turned against the people, and checks and balances that virtually don't exist.
We have allowed our republic to degenerate into exactly what our ancestors were trying to flee from.
Will we take a step in righting the ship this November? If 2012 was any indication, no, we will not. We're too busy arguing about small hands and who is really allowed in a bathroom.
Lincoln was right. We’re dying a slow death by self-inflicted wounds.
Wade Heath is a speaker, columnist and founder of the Do Good. Be Great. millennial movement. Contact him: Events@WadeHeath.com
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