I am Leonard (Len) Edwards, Chairman of We The People Tea Party of Southern Iowa. I am also a proud veteran (21 years and 3 months) of the United States Air Force and, as most veterans, a Patriot. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the men and women in the United States military think that they are just doing a job. Most of them that I have known are intensely patriotic. They have to be to live the military lifestyle where they may be safely at home with their beloved family one-day and serving (perhaps fighting) in some far off land the next. It demands selflessness and a devotion to duty and honor that few other professions require. Every soldier, sailor and airman promises with their sacred honor that they will, if necessary die to insure that this nation, this “city on a hill” remains free for their family and loved ones. But just as importantly, most of them serve so that the world will know that it is only possible for mankind to have life, liberty and prosperity through the rule of “We The People” UNDER GOD.
Yes, I am also a Christian; a believer that without the ultimate source of right and wrong; the ultimate arbiter of justice, mercy and grace, all our efforts at ruling ourselves as a free people are doomed to failure. Our founding fathers agreed with me. So far as I know, all the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution believed in God. The overwhelming majority were devout Christians. Some were ordained Christian ministers. Even Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were convinced that devotion to a power higher than man’s government is absolutely necessary for mankind to have any hope to rule himself and remain free. I mention these three because they were probably the most deistic of all the 250 or so founding fathers. All three were at least doubtful that Jesus was divine. Yet, unlike deists, they believed that there exists a God that is intensely involved in human affairs, promises eternal life to those who believe and are obedient to His principles and whose guidance is indispensible if this nation is to remain free. They proclaimed that while government must not be allowed to establish nor sustain any state sponsored religion, it must encourage and assist its citizens to believe in and practice their own freely chosen one. All three proclaimed that by far, the religion that was most likely to maintain and sustain a government ruled by the people was Christianity. They understood that no government could control its people through intimidation and coercion and still allow the people to be free. It is only possible for men to be free if they control themselves and to do this, they must obey a higher authority than government. So, we must be a nation that is ruled by “We The People” UNDER GOD or we cannot remain free.
Our founding fathers believed the instruments that would educate the people in the basics of good citizenry and religion was the family, the public schools and the churches. Initially, every school taught Christianity and Christian principles as well as the standard fare such as English, history, mathematics and government. Local communities were responsible for the content, staffing, funding and running of their schools. Ultimately, the state legislatures were largely responsible to oversee the education of their citizens. Today, our federal government has all but taken over our public schools and is vigorously erasing any religious influence within our schools and other public institutions. So, we must support non-public home, chartered and religious schools to teach and encourage our citizens to learn about, believe in and obey the principles laid down by our Creator. We must also vigorously work to limit or rid federal influences from our public schools. This does not take away nor penalize anyone’s desire to not believe in Christ or God. A free society must allow its citizens to follow their conscience so long as it is within the law of our land. Yet, it does demand that an unbeliever live their life in accordance with and in obedience to the law that is based upon Godly principles.
A cornerstone inherent in the founding of this nation was that every citizen has a God-given and unalienable right to pursue and keep wealth (called the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution). Therefore, they were extremely sensitive about taxation. They intended for the federal government to be continually leashed by small budgets and limited powers. To them, heavy taxation and large state-run welfare and social programs such as then existed in European countries led to slavery of the common person. So, they wanted every tax to be levied with the consent of the people. That is why all tax legislation is required by the Constitution to originate in the House of Representatives, which is the portion of the legislative branch that is most directly elected by and therefore is the most direct voice of the people. To insure that the Representatives support fiscally responsible legislation that is acceptable to their constituents, the Constitution requires that they must answer for their actions by facing reelection every two years. The founding fathers also tried to insure that the Federal government would remain small and controllable by restricting its revenue to indirect taxes such as import and export duties. This was meant to ensure that the national government could not overwhelm the state governments through shear wealth. Additionally, it prevented the government from redistributing wealth, which our founders said stripped the incentive for citizens to prosper by their own labor and encouraged those who would not work to remain idle and live on the labors of others. It also makes the non-workers dependent upon and therefore particularly susceptible to government influence. Today, because of the 16th amendment to the Constitution, our national government collects huge amounts of money through direct federal income tax in addition to indirect taxes. Only about one half our citizens pay the income tax while the other half either pays nothing or enjoys undeserved (redistributed) refunds. So, we must restore fiscal sanity and perspective by repealing the 16th amendment to force the federal government to return to the relatively small government intended by our founders. A growing number of citizens are in favor of either a flat tax (requires the 16th amendment) that taxes everyone equally or the Fair tax (does not require the 16th amendment), which restricts the government (as our founding fathers intended) to an indirect national sales tax.
The Senate was originally created to be the voice of the sovereign states and a strong check on federal power. To accomplish this, the founding fathers required that senators be selected by the elected legislatures of their state. This splitting of the legislative branch was meant to insure that both the popular and the sovereign state’s interests were considered in any legislation. Today, the senators are elected directly by the people of each state, bypassing their legislatures and thus the sovereignty of the states has largely been compromised. This is why federal power has exploded while state power has declined. So, we must restore the balance between state and national interests by repealing the 17th amendment to the Constitution.
Many of our founding fathers felt that members of Congress should not be allowed to serve unlimited terms. Many others felt that the nation would benefit the most from long serving, experienced Congress members. Time has shown that elected positions without term limits leads to officials who are more concerned about maintaining their lucrative positions than serving the people by whom they are elected. This is a recipe for and invites corruption, which many times circumvents the Constitution and even oppresses the people they are supposed to be serving. So, all elected and appointed positions should have term limits.
The Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate inter-state commerce. Unfortunately, the judicial branch has interpreted this power extremely liberally by allowing the term inter-state commerce to mean almost every transaction in which a person even remotely participates in commerce between states. Recently, the current administration has used unprecedented powers it claims are inherent in its Constitutionally given mandates to tax and regulate inter-state commerce. Repealing the 16th amendment will be a major blow to the federal government’s power to decree unlimited taxes. However, it will take a Supreme Court decision to prevent an unlimited expansion of federal power to mandate all kinds of commercial activity, including the right to force and control participation in commerce via the new national health care legislation. So, we must vigorously encourage the Supreme Court to strike down this legislation and in so doing put firm limits on federal power to regulate commerce. Additionally, we must actively support members of the legislature in their efforts to repeal this unprecedented expansion of government power.
Thomas Jefferson and others were deeply concerned that there were inadequate controls over the powers of the judicial branch. Jefferson felt that the judicial branch, even though it has no enforcement power could become the instrument through which federal power would eventually become supreme and dictatorial. He felt that the impeachment power given to Congress to provide some control over the appointed (not elected) federal judges including the Supreme Court Justices was unwieldy and had such a high standard required for convicting and removing a judge that it would be seldom, if ever used. This has proven to be the case. Except for criminal activities, it is virtually impossible to remove a federally appointed judge. Therefore, federal judges can interpret the law and the Constitution in any manner, which invites decisions to expand judicial power until it dominates, by proxy the other two branches. Our current unelected federal judiciary strike down laws, force modifications in legal behavior and interpret the Constitution however they please without being accountable to anyone. This has resulted in the removal of prayer in public schools, an increasing level of hostility to religious expression in public places and reversal of positive encouragement of religion and religious standards, which the founding fathers said is necessary for our nation to remain free. It has also resulted in unprecedented decisions that proclaim an unwritten right to privacy, which continues to allow millions of unborn human beings to be murdered. Jefferson recommended that the Supreme Court judges be reviewed after a certain number of years by the congressional and executive branches. Although this still insolates federal judges from direct accountability to the people, it at least makes them accountable to their elected representatives.
I believe our founding fathers would be profoundly saddened by just how far we have allowed our government to stray from our Constitution. Given our current financial and Constitutional crises, we are in grave danger of losing the freedoms for which they labored and risked so much. Some of them did lose everything. Actually, we are faced today with many of the same choices over which they struggled. Socialism and Communism seem to be on the march. We have a president and administration that is closer to those philosophies than ever in history. With every increase in government power, our freedoms diminish. That is why I am in the Tea Party movement. I do not enjoy political activism. But, sometimes I have to do things that I otherwise, in better, more safe times would not dream of doing. I have had the honor of serving this unmatched, incredible nation as a soldier for more than 20 years. I love her. I cannot bear to lose that “shining city on a hill”. But, my concern is not just for me. I am 66 years old and so most of my time on this earth is gone. I hope and pray that I am wise enough to allow the Lord’s gracious Spirit to guide and direct me in this effort. Like all of you who read this blog, I want that shining, illustrious dream for my children and their children and their children on down to the time when our dear Lord returns to finally give us a pure undefiled version of the freedoms that our forefathers tried so valiantly to give us.
PS I cordially invite anyone reading this to join in this effort. Our Tea Party meets every third Thursday of every month at the Lamoni Community Center, Lamoni, Iowa at 7 pm.