by John Eberhard
Today, people immigrate to the United States from all over the world, by the hundreds of thousands every year. Why do they come? They come mainly for opportunities and freedoms that are largely missing from their countries.
Yet, if you talk to a life-long American, and ask him what he thinks of the U.S government, he will probably voice his disdain or dislike or even disgust for the government. He feels that most of the politicians are corrupt, and that by and large, the government doesn’t take care of his interests.
So is the life-long American spoiled? Well maybe. But before we look at that, let’s take a look at the principles and ideas on which America was founded, to get perhaps a hint at why people immigrate here today from all over the world, and why our ancestors immigrated here many years ago.
Let’s look to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by Congress on July 4, 1776:
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter and abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
Let’s take a look at one of the key principles here. This country was based on the idea that if you had a government, and it was not doing its job, you could throw it off and start a new one. Now we probably take that for granted today, but that was a pretty newfangled idea back in 1776. The idea was in fact not totally new, it was first originated by John Locke, an English philosopher whom Jefferson studied. But governments in 1776 were just coming out of an era of the "devine right of Kings", i.e. the King ruled because God said he could, i.e. you better not question him.
So if you examine the idea that one could change his government if it wasn’t doing the job, you will see that it gives a great deal of importance to the individual. The government is put into the position of being the servant of the people. The people elect the government officials and get to decide periodically whether they’re doing a good job.
There are other reasons that immigrants were beckoned to our shores. The opportunities of land ownership, and in general the idea that one could rise from poverty to wealth in this country by working hard (i.e. the idea of rewarding production), were largely foreign (no pun intended) concepts in Europe and other parts of the world at that time.
So then with all this going for it, why do people today have such a disdainful view of the U.S. government? There are a few reasons. One is that corruption and unethical behavior have become so rampant in the U.S. government, that many a citizen has reason for disdain. Just look at our own President Clinton, having an adulterous affair with a young intern, then directly lying about it for months. And just for the record, I was appalled by that and don’t agree that it was "no big deal", and I don’t believe that 66% of the U.S. public really thought it was "no big deal" either. I think the spin doctors (i.e. media manipulators) got ahold of that one from the very start.
Another reason is that the U.S. government has gotten so big and all-powerful, that it is not unusual for the ordinary citizen to feel like he has no effect whatsoever on what happens. And of course there’s the IRS. But that’s a story for another day.
But here’s the good news. The basic principles that this country was founded on, are still all there. We are still the most free country on the face of this planet.
So what can we do about the condition that the government has fallen to? What can we do, short of rebellion (I’m not advocating that), to make it do the job better.
The simple answer is for each person to get more involved. It sounds so stupidly simple that it can’t possibly be true. But it is. A large reason why the government has become so corrupt and unresponsive to our needs is because we as a people have allowed it.
Do you vote? Every year? Do you ever write to the President, or to your Congressman or Senator, or to your local representatives? Do you keep up on current events, so you have a good idea what the government is doing? If you do all that, great – keep it up and encourage others to do so. But if not, then you might see that there are some things you can do to make your presence more felt.
There are web sites on the Internet where you can get the email addresses of your representatives and write them. Your Yellow Pages also has the addresses and phone numbers of your local representatives.
So get more involved. Make your voice heard. The more you do, the better this country will be.