A speech given by Larimer County (CO) Sheriff, Jim Alderden
on July 4th, 2009, in Estes Park, CO
Revolution. The word has several meanings.
As I use the word today, just in case there are any federal authorities monitoring this gathering and composing a potential terrorist watch list, I mean a sweeping change in the direction government is headed.
I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers.... We must make our choice between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.
These are the words of our third President, one of our Founding Fathers and the author of our Declaration of Independence: Thomas Jefferson.
As I speak today about our heritage and foundation and contrast that with where we are and where we appear to be headed I hope you'll forgive me for borrowing liberally from Jefferson and others who were true visionaries and much brighter than me. Over two hundred years after they were uttered, the words of our Paternal Patriots are just as relevant today as they were then.
Some critics have denounced the attendees of these Tea Parties as Tea-baggers and nothing more than ignorant racists. I prefer to think of us as Patriots with deep respect for the principles on which this great Republic was founded.
America has been the country that champions individual freedom, not the land of government control leading us like a pack of Lemmings into the sea of self destruction.
America was founded as the land of opportunity - opportunity for all regardless of race, color, creed or religion. Opportunity to succeed or fail - depending on one's ability and initiative. The land of opportunity, not the land of entitlement.
The over-reaching of our federal government today can only be described as revolting.
We live in troubling times, a time when complacency has led to unrecognized or ignored danger. We must be vigilant from threats, threats both from abroad and within. We who are gathered here understand this and are willing to take a stand and be heard, just as the citizens of Massachusetts were in 1773 when they dumped 342 chests of tea from three ships docked at Griffin's Wharf into Boston Harbor.
If there is one thing we should have learned by now, it's that history does repeat itself.
What prompted the original Tea Party? It wasn't that the colonials didn't like tea. Indeed, tea was the coffee of the day and colonials drank an estimated six and a half million pounds of tea each year. The Governor of Massachusetts was appointed by the King and his pay linked to the tax on tea. One of the largest financial institutions in England at the time was the East India Company, second only to the Bank of England, but it was close to bankruptcy. To help the failing company, Parliament changed the law on how tea was sold and shipped, basically under-cutting American traders like John Hancock and creating an East India monopoly that benefited a very small group in Boston that included the Governor's two sons and a son-in-law.
Government interference with free enterprise. Disproportionate taxation! Back to the future!
As dramatic as the events of that December night were, what is more relevant were the meetings which took place prior to the Tea Party and the efforts to have the tea returned to England. When the first ship to arrive had docked, posters went up urging citizens to gather at Faneuil Hall the next morning. As reported in the book Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution by A.J. Langguth, a crowd of over 6,000 gathered there in violation of the government restriction which limited the size of Town Meetings. The men gathered said that even though they didn't own enough property to qualify to vote, their sons someday would and that they were entitled to protect their children's future. -- So are we! Not only entitled to protect their future, but bound to.
So, why we are gathered here today? Join me in being heard!
The following frequently used quotation is attributed to Scottish history professor Alexander Tytler. He made his observation shortly after the Revolutionary War, about the same time the Constitutional Convention was being held in Philadelphia.
A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.
Back to the future! Dr. Tytler continued:
The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
- From bondage to spiritual faith;
- From spiritual faith to great courage;
- From courage to liberty;
- From liberty to abundance;
- From abundance to complacency;
- From complacency to apathy;
- From apathy to dependence;
- From dependence back into bondage
The accuracy and source of this quote have been debated, but the
observations seem to conform to our history. It does appear
that history repeats itself. If you recall one of the definitions
of "revolution" as a circular movement around a point, it does appear
that we've come nearly full circle:
from the figurative bondage of the oppressive taxes and duties imposed by various acts of the British Parliament
to the spiritual faith and courage shown by the Son's of Liberty
to the Declaration of Independence and freedoms guaranteed under our Bill of Rights
to the abundance our great nation enjoyed through much of the 20th century
to the complacency and apathy that has slowly permeated our society over the past few decades
and finally, to the dependency we see today.
I have a great deal of respect and admiration for our Founding Fathers - for what they accomplished and the risks they took to win our independence. Let me share with you some of their thoughts on democracy.
Thomas Jefferson expressed the same concern as Dr. Tytler but did so much more succinctly, stating:
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.
John Adams observed:
...democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.
The question for us is this:
Is it possible to move from this stage of dependence, by-passing the stage of figurative bondage and move back in time to a new era of spiritual faith, great courage, liberty and independence?
I would argue and pray that it is possible - that it isn't too late - because our government is not a pure democracy. Our Founding Fathers understood the inherent dangers of a pure democracy, where strict majority rule threatens the inalienable rights of the individual. They understood the fundamental difference between a pure democracy which is equated to mob rule, and a Republic which is a representative form of government - operating under a Constitution that places limits on the authority of government and ensures the sovereignty of the individual.
As noted by Jefferson,
An elective despotism is not what we fought for -
It appears to me that our hope for the future lies in the fact that we are a Republic. But the path back won't be easy and there is no quick fix. Our Founding Fathers fought for independence - risking everything. We who are gathered today can do no less.
So, what do we need to do to get back on track?
The first step is to recognize how we got here. We didn't get here overnight. It was a slow and incremental deterioration fueled by a liberal media and by a liberal educational system. We need to restore balance to both.
We need to support media outlets that aren't beholden to the government and which present all sides of an issue. We need to vigorously oppose such things as the -so-called- Fairness Doctrine.
We need to take back our educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, holding teachers and administrators responsible for educating our children, not imposing their ideology. If our public institutions of learning can't do that, then we need to home school our youth or enroll them in select charter or private schools.
WE - need to instill our values in our children, not cede this important responsibility to the schools or media.
Second, we need to stand up, shout and be heard. We need to continue to gather in protest instead of wallowing in apathy.
We need to actively push for a return to our national foundation - with an emphasis on our individual God-given rights and respect for State rights over federalism.
Third, we need to get politically active - not just by casting a vote on election day - but in working on campaigns of candidates who uphold our ideals.
We need to ensure that all of our elected officials know, understand and uphold our founding principles - from the school board members to the city councilman, from the county commissioner to the mayor, from the sheriff to the governor, from the state and federal legislators to the President.
Leaders who understand and honor the Declaration of Independence, the United State Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Leaders who will govern based on our founding principles, not polls.
Leaders who understand their responsibility under a Republic. Representatives who will truly represent us and our country - not their self interest. Leaders who aren't in it for the money or to satisfy their ego.
I can't let a speech on the Fourth of July go by without quoting my favorite actor. In closing, this is from John Wayne playing Davy Crockett in The Alamo:
Republic. I like the sound of the word. It means people can live free, talk free, go or come, buy or sell, be drunk or sober, however they choose. Some words give you a feeling. Republic is one of those words that makes me tight in the throat - the same tightness a man gets when his baby takes his first step or his first baby shaves and makes his first sound like a man. Some words can give you a feeling that make your heart warm. Republic is one of those words.