Saturday, August 01, 2009

Signposts to the road out

America, as a culture, has had two great political movements that have moved across her people.

The first is that engendered at the Founding, which saw the level of acceptance of it go from a state of 15% of the population to being accepted by the equivalent of 75% by the end of it: the concept that humans come from Natural Law and have, from that, vested in them all the Liberty that Nature provides us.  With such Liberty we create relationships with our fellow man and that, in turn, creates society.  Society, by its nature, is a vesting place of some negative liberties to ensure that there is social cohesion: there is group understanding, group associations and the ability of the group to identify those that adhere to, or at least put up with, a set of values held in general by all members of society.  Thus from self-rule we go to the self-evident form of first governance in which we vest the ability to shift members of society out of society for the protection of that society when those commonly held beliefs and practices are violated by its members.  That is a negative liberty, to ostracize, imprison or kill such members and it is one that we, as individuals, yield up to the organs of society made to stand in judgment of them.

What is garnered in return for that negative liberty is protection of society by those organs of society deemed worthy of creation and sustaining.  Likewise when the State is created to add further oversight upon what is and is not allowable within society, we further invest our negative liberties for self-judgment in bodies made up to create what those factors are to be judged.  This is, at heart, a process of making up those things called 'laws' which are a representation of those things deemed so important to that society that they must be adhered to across it.  A State with officially recognized internal organs that are identified by the population is then created and it need not be large: the first States were City States and incorporated within a single city and some small amounts of surrounding territory.

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913):

Corporate \Cor"po*rate\ (k?r"p?-r?t), a. [L. corporatus, p. p. of corporare to shape into a body, fr. corpus body. See Corpse.]

1. Formed into a body by legal enactment; united in an association, and endowed by law with the rights and liabilities of an individual; incorporated; as, a corporate town.

2. Belonging to a corporation or incorporated body. ``Corporate property.'' --Hallam.

3. United; general; collectively one. They answer in a joint and corporate voice. --Shak.

Corporate member, an actual or voting member of a corporation, as distinguished from an associate or an honorary member; as, a corporate member of the American Board.

To create an incorporated entity, like a State, requires the understanding that the law of that State rules within that State's boundaries.  Thus States have bounds and limits to them and are considered areas of civil rule where society has created an understood and accountable entity to which any individual can appeal if they feel the law is misapplied or badly created.  Often that was under a strongman or warlord who came up through the ranks of society but was, more often, the leader of a small body representing parts of the State.  These parts were not just geographic but often social, and many State governments had members of trades, crafts and mercantile associations within their membership as the well run State did not want to overly impact the livelihood of such members who helped create wealth in society.

Isolated City States when they got involved with other City States or other governing bodies of foreign populations then created the first Nations:  this is the external organization that has organs of its own to allow for understandings between society to be made so as to lessen friction between societies.  This concept expanded when multiple City States or loosely incorporated regions recognized that they had more in common with each other than with other entities that did not hold similar outlooks on how to run one's life properly.  Thus the Nation State would grow to include all such areas under its governing oversight and create a fully incorporated entity that had common agreement internally on laws, society and government.  By setting down regularized forms of internal rules on trade, commerce and protection of members of society, wealth would increase multi-fold as the Nation State took on the negative liberties of warfare with other entities as well as the liberties to create and sustain agreements with other Nations.

This is not a political concept, per se, but one of taking a reasoning approach to how mankind rules himself, comes into cooperation with his fellow man and then creates larger organs for the good of society by investing such negative liberties in such Nation States that would then allow him to concentrate time and energy on other matters.

The abuses of such organs of government by Kings, Parliaments, Oligarchies, Aristocrats, Plutocrats and other less than representative organizations and individuals lead to the abuses of government that are the terror of those negative liberties turned on society: draconian laws, confiscatory taxation, abuse of the law by those in power and then chaotic rule centered upon a very few that then makes society captive to government.  These abuses are ones to be wary of as they are a misuse of those negative liberties meant to protect society.  It is amongst such misuses by a Nation State that forms the bulk of the Declaration of Independence which has, as its largest part, the abuses of government upon its people and why they cannot be tolerated:


--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

If we remember the preface to these words, then why do we forget these words?  For the preface is just that, a pre-facing of the later argument and the basis for it, giving the necessary definitions and underpinnings for what will then be given after it.  In holding such self-evident truths, the nature of the problems about to be listed are tantamount to government abusing and enslaving members of its society by ignoring or creating punitive law against members of society who have done no wrong to the larger body of the people.

As no one had catalogued and analyzed the upwards creation of government from society and only had the record of government already in place, as it is an early formation of society to create organs to protect itself, the concept that man had the ability to self-rule and that government should not punish man for that was one that took thousands of years to finally be understood. 

Man created government through society for self-protection. 

Government did not create society to rule man.

Sadly, the century or two of learning that it took to get to this point of understanding is still one missed by those seeking to rule society.

By the end of the 19th century the idea had arisen that government could do 'good things' for society and its members.  This concept was that of utilizing government to change society by using the power of government to mandate new aspects of society.  To do that all members of society had to pay for the oversight of such new 'good things'.  This idea did not originate in the United States as it had been a part of pre-Westphalian governing concepts in which religious bodies would set Ecclesiastical Law that would then be imposed via the Nation State upon its people.  That goes back to the time of the Pharaohs in Ancient Egypt and to the unification of China under a Sun Emperor and throughout the Americas where religious groups had great sway over secular government.  This creates a system of morals that are then imposed by law upon the members of society from no other source than the religion held by the majority of society.

The ills of this are great and many, and create wars, genocide and the migration of peoples seeking to flee tyrannical government and set up government more to their liking that did not punish them for religious belief.  With that said the cause of this was enforcing morals upon society and its individuals, and that is a separate problem from having a strictly religious backing to it.  From that understanding the concept of government enforcing morals held, even by a majority, becomes problematical as those in the minority that do not hold such moral views will then be persecuted for those simple differences in belief.  Once taking up the role enforcing morals, government must grow to do so, which eats up more in the way of wealth of society to enforce such moralistic beliefs, no matter what their origin.

Religion, however, does have a part to play in society and in promulgating morality within its members who then follow them to lead good lives.  The modern thought of divorcing religion from our guidance in society is an ill one, even when religion can come to ill-ends trying to promulgate morality outside of its adherents.  During the time of the ratification of the Constitution we get two supporters of it that give us this moderate view of religion.

First is Nicholas Collin in A Foreign Spectator XXVIII on 28 SEP 1787 :

The rational opinion, that sincere worshippers in whatever religion are pleasing to Almighty God, is now pretty generally established in all civilized nations. It is of the highest consequence, because the belief that eternal happiness depends on a particular creed or mode of worship, will prompt even good men to establish such at all adventures. We must not however imagine that this species of bigotry has alone produced the many religious wars and tumults; for there are antipathies arising merely from the peculiar genius of a religion, capable of doing much hurt. Any thing that appears to another sect very absurd, mean, unsocial, &c. has an ill effect. A bad influence on manners and government is a serious affair. If it cannot be helped, divide et impera is a good maxim with religious as other parties—where any sect has a decided superiority, or a rapid increase, others may be encouraged. Indifferency is not the proper remedy against superstition; for a very defective religion is better than none. Let then the several professions respect the advantages of each other, and with candid benevolence criticize mutual infirmities—Let the bright luminary of reason gradually rise, and shed its majestic radiance over this western world; it will manifest to all the same great God, and the same road to happiness here and hereafter.
The second is Noah Webster writing as A Citizen of America on 17 OCT 1787:

Of all the memorable eras that have marked the progress of men from the savage state to the refinements of luxury, that which has combined them into society, under a wise system of government, and given form to a nation, has ever been recorded and celebrated as the most important. Legislators have ever been deemed the greatest benefactors of mankind—respected when living, and often deified after their death. Hence the fame of Fohi and Confucius—of Moses, Solon and Lycurgus—of Romulus and Numa—of Alfred, Peter the Great, and Mango Capac; whose names will be celebrated through all ages, for framing and improving constitutions of government, which introduced order into society and secured the benefits of law to millions of the human race.

This western world now beholds an era important beyond conception, and which posterity will number with the age of Czar of Muscovy, and with the promulgation of the Jewish laws at Mount Sinai. The names of those men who have digested a system of constitutions for the American empire, will be enrolled with those of Zamolxis and Odin, and celebrated by posterity with the honors which less enlightened nations have paid to the fabled demi-gods of antiquity.

But the origin of the AMERICAN REPUBLIC is distinguished by peculiar circumstances. Other nations have been driven together by fear and necessity—the governments have generally been the result of a single man’s observations; or the offspring of particular interests. IN the formation of our constitution, the wisdom of all ages is collected—the legislators of antiquity are consulted—as well as the opinions and interests of the millions who are concerned. In short, in it an empire of reason.

Here are some of the basics of those who adhered to the Constitution as proposed at the Founding.  Now one of these men was a Christian devoted to culture and another of them a Reverend likewise devoted to culture, and both brought with them a strong set of views on religion which transcended minor varieties of Christianity.  Indeed some of the harshness of their views comes from the fact that there were and are varieties of Christianity, but in looking at their particular beliefs within the large manifold of all beliefs (and even non-belief) they reason through the place of religion in forming laws and influencing government.  Laws and good laws can come from ANY religion: no religion is given that sanction to itself for all of society.  Because of the power of religion, the attempt to have a majority religion dominate society in the attempt to become the totality of religion that would then guide society is seen as the opposite of moderation and reason.

Religion, by its intercourse via society, creates morals that can then be tested against the whole of society and when more than those that adhere to a given religion also do so, then such a thing moves beyond private morals to public morals.  That does not mean it is something fit for government to make laws about save when such morals ensure the liberty of ALL members of society: then the pressing need for laws to enforce such public morality becomes predominant as there is general agreement across society that such morality is deemed good and worthwhile as sustaining all parts of society.

Movement away from such moderate precepts started in the 1880's and 1890's in many forms.  I have more than touched on Progressivism in the past and note that it becomes a vehicle for other movements, also.  The Temperance Movement played no small part in the early days of Progressivism which rode on the idea that government can enforce itself to the good ends of public morality.  Likewise Theodore Roosevelt encouraged the Shanghai Opium Conference which would lead to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914.  Both of these Progressive causes used public morality as their basis, and while it was then morality of allied religious groups, the concept that public morals could be pushed by government was one that became a hallmark of all later Progressive movements including those using Socialist views.  The devoutness of a Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover or Franklin Delano Roosevelt is never questioned.  The political ends that would come from inculcating public morality, however, would seek to supplant the known order of government stemming from the people and replace that with society enforced by government upon the people. 

That is not a difference of degree, but of kind, from restricting liberty for public safety to enforcing 'public rights' or 'social rights' at the cost of all of the people for the very few is a large step towards authoritarian ends.  Enforcing 'positive rights' from government carries with it a huge cost of government and eroding the rights of the individual to lead a good and upstanding life without government interdiction or overburden.  By supporting only some rights and taking the means to exercise others out of the hands of individuals, there is a cost to the individual of these 'new rights' which Theodore Roosevelt correctly identified in his autobiography as the 'old rights' of tyranny and despotism, of the strong over the weak and contradicted the right of the individual to self-rule and duty to self and Nation.  Yet it is exactly that form of 'rights', those created by government fiat and supported by government, that took root in America.  It is at loggerheads with the concept of individuals being the central point of all rights and posits that government can and must enforce rights... rights that only the government can decide upon.  Instead of moderating and refereeing the interplay of rights amongst the people and the States, government seeks to set the tone, write the tune, hire the band, and then enforce applause via the law.

Nations have an understood set of internal and external parameters to them, and this was understood not only by the Founders but derived from post-Westphalian period when such works as those by Grotius (written during the 30 Years War) were then picked up as topics for the purpose and role of the Nation in the affairs of mankind.  The sources for this would span Europe and finally come down to a few writers who would work to compile them and regularize their understanding, which would finally be put down by Emmerich de Vattel in close coordination with other legal scholars like William Blackstone who would incorporate ideas with his Commentaries on the Common Law of England.  The end product was the first attempt to compile all that was known and could be reasoned about what Nation States were and put into Law of Nations.  That work would identify the qualities of Nations of any stripe or form, be they religious or non-religious based it was a compilation and analysis of all known governments and their types which were then distilled down to their essential ingredients.  And the basis of Nations is that they acknowledge and respect the society that they represent.

The swing from Rights of Man liberalism to Government Enforced Rights liberalism is a long, long swing of society, and the extent of the latter swing over the past 130 years has been frightening.  Yet, just as that formulation took a century from the Founding to get going, we are now seeing, perhaps, the start of the movement back and away from Government Ruling Society as a 'good concept' for governing.

While many on the political Left today still try to sell the idea that Tea Parties are run by Republicans or  are racist or stooges for the wealthy or any number of things, the sheer number of explanations that are given indicate that they are none of those things.  People from all walks of life, all ages, all ethnic groups show up at such events.  What is not understood by the Left and by Progressives of all persuasions, is that American politics is, at its heart, an expression of its culture formed by individuals.  The chaotic tumult of society does have direction, but does not, of necessity, want LEADERS.  Indeed, American political movements start out leaderless and then find good people willing to lead them and who know that if they DON'T follow the general direction of those in the organization, they can easily get cut off from it.  American Revolutions and politics are self-organized and only those that need a high definition, hierarchy and 'Leaders' demonstrate that the movement has lost some steam as it goes 'mainstream'.  Those that wish to control society need organizations they can pin down, and rambunctious, chaotic and yet not directionless associations are a horror to them: uncontrolled social expression is an anathema to Progressivism which seeks control in all venues.

Thus Tea Parties show up as a signpost in the US culture that has an expression in politics.  It is not National politics, alone, but also local politics:  Tea Party members now show up at town council meetings, meet and greets by politicians, and stand up to ask questions of those 'in authority' who do not budget money wisely and are continually asking for more money due to their inability to make the hard decisions of what is necessary for government to do and what is not.  This is a re-expression of small government views given to a new era, so as to begin the process of addressing the actual problems that government has let go in the way of public maintenance of infrastructure.  The largesse of the federal government to State and local governments in the way of cash transfers now make such governments dependent upon the federal government.  As the actual cost for running such things as road maintenance, sewer line upkeep, constructing water treatment plants, snow removal, the full cost of schooling children... across all those areas the Nation has seen a marked decline in public services.  Even when expanding older infrastructure is not updated, not supported and maintenance is always the first place to cut and the last to get its full needs re-budgeted during better times.  Bridges built in the 1930's are at the end of their lifecycle for municipal roadways.  Interstate thruways now face decades of lack of properly maintaining and assessing the needs of these roads and we see bridges collapse and wholesale construction projects that remove roads from service as new ones are put in to replace them.  Things that should have had regular and scheduled maintenance and upgrading over time now must be built new as they fail.

By expanding the power and scope of federal outlays, local and State governments are deprived of local revenue streams to address local concerns in the most accountable way possible.  When you accept federal funds the entire federal regulatory structure comes with the money, and it is not an efficient structure at all, often eating as little as 35% of funds in 'accounting' and 'oversight' with other inefficiencies of federal mandates and that lost efficiency often stretches far beyond 35%.  For all the tens and hundreds of billions poured into local schools, the reading level has remained rock solid since the late 1950's when it was a scandal that poor Johnny couldn't read.  Johnny, Jane, Jose, Janet... all of them now read at that exact, same level WITH a federal bureaucracy 'helping'.  And as there is already a baseline on how bad things were BEFORE the government 'helped' we have a situation where no amount of 'help' has changed things and we now have a government department set up to employ over educated wonks who can't FIX the problem.

Another signpost is one that Progressives and those wishing to concentrate power in the National government structure don't want to hear as it is a re-assertion of the public's understanding of civil rights.  It is in an area that has been a paramount push to have changed by the Left and Progressives on the Right as it is a civil right that threatens them both.  It is essential to being a citizen and even if you don't practice the right, it is given to you by the Law of Nature in positive and negative aspects.  We hand the negative to the Nation State for protection of society as it is negative, but we keep the positive right for ourselves as no government may divorce it by any law, as the moment events happen to require the use of such a right, it magically re-appears outside the confines of human law.  It is the liberty to defend oneself, one's loved ones and your property and no government can take it from you: it can only kill or imprison you for transgressing it if it has the hubris to do so.  This liberty has the direct part of it from the Law of Nature, as all beings have a right to defend themselves to survive.  The derived portion is to protect your property and as that property is an expression of your liberty, you do have the right to defend it, also.  The defensive right to keep and bear arms is a necessary part of establishing and keeping civil society functioning as it is the prime expression of your right to be free of oppression.  We hand the Nation State portion of warfare to the Nation as civil society would be at risk if any many could declare war for it.  When government seeks to remove the means of self-defense we call it tyrannical and despotic, totalitarian in seeking to rule over society not help to govern it.

One of the bedrock stances of Progressivism is to remove the right of you to say 'no' to more government at a personal level.  The horror of WWII saw a strong backlash against firearms, and yet the natural understanding of man is that war is to be avoided unless handed to you and then fought to the hilt to end so as to rebuild and help honorable foes to stand up and for themselves with the understanding that war is not the answer as America is the solution.  This from Gallup Poll of 08 APR 2009 that tracks the post-WWII period on this question:

gallup graph gun control

Likewise Pew Research also examined this phenomena on 30 APR 2009, and saw the steady, long-term decline in support for gun control and restrictions on gun ownership from 1993 to present.  Any single public poll on any day is but a single data point of little meaning alone.  When given with a continuous series of polls over years and decades, polling shows up long term social trends that can otherwise go unnoticed until they come to a majority and change all perceptions of just what society wants from its government organs.  The NRA has been a supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, even when it got influenced by members seeking to shift its traditional stance the rest of the membership pushed back and continue to do so to this day.  Not all such social advocacy groups for civil rights on firearms are so successful: the original NRA group in the UK, founded by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was unable to prevent the Progressivist movement to restrict and then ban firearms.  Yet in the time of Queen Victoria bars had shooting ranges as part of their construction, and she personally cut a ribbon for one near Parliament.  The 'saloon gun' was a single shot, typically tip-up, pistol meant to demonstrate marksmanship and one's ability to control not only their aim but their liquor.  Moralist movements on both venues have eroded the perception of this quintessential positive right, but Americans have been moving to repair the damage done by government to this right.  For the first time in decades there is growing support for fewer firearms laws, fewer restrictions and recognizing a civil right, that right to protect oneself and support one's society and be accountable for it, AS a civil right.

Another social factor is a trend away from centralized news sources.  This is seen in all media, but print media and newspapers have been the hardest hit.  This from and its Average Circulation for daily and sunday newspapers:

daily and sunday

Of critical note is that the US population has been increasing over this entire timeframe, and yet the readership has remained stagnant to declining, thus as a penetration of a source for news, newspapers are becoming marginalized as they have been unable to grow their audience size.  This shows that, at best, there is a cohort of dedicated readership or subscribers that remains fixed in size even while population grows, overall.  A 2008 graph showing where people get their news from in average minutes per week shows where those people not reading newspapers have gone:

average minutes per news type weekly

Thus a third signpost shows up, and considering that the internet as a news system was not available in 1990, its ability to dominate reader/viewer time is astounding.  The term invented for this phenomena in the late 1990's, during the dot com boom, was 'disintermediation'.  Also known as 'getting rid of the middleman'.  The ability of news organizations to act as a 'gate keeper' of news, to determine what is and is not news, is eroding.  While television and radio get more time per individual per week, it is no longer 90% as it was before the internet and is now closer to 66% (and I am going by eye, not by measurement) for all of the old media COMBINED against a form of news delivery that did not even exist 15 years ago.  What this did in sales, marketing and advertising is well known, as it changed the basis of the market place but still had room in it for traditional stores.  Not everyone wants their groceries delivered by FedEx and the same goes for buying clothing, durable goods and major items.  What has changed is that the internet now provides opportunities to market in areas that were once isolated and to form wider based markets from multiple niche markets that were isolated.  What this does in the economy it does in politics: it breaks the 'gate keeper' function of the two parties to set the tone of what is and is not necessary for politics in the Nation.

Progressivism had always had a strong form of collectivism in it from its early days, taking a page from the socialists and populists to create 'social movements' to press home political goals.  The older party structures could not adapt to that and both became Progressive in response to it.  By moving to get centralized media systems swayed by Progressive ideals (such as film, radio and later television) the 'gate keeping' function served as a sieve to slowly remove non-Progressive ideas from coverage or to put forward biased coverage of those ideas on how to govern.  Disintermediation, however, removes 'gate keepers': they may still be there but the fence has been removed, making the gate something that is unneeded and unwanted by the population.  That ability to do authoritarian, top-down organizing served Progressives early on in the internet, also.  Yet when trying to set up 'gate keeping' systems via web sites, the absolute democracy of electronic communications via TCP/IP thwarted those attempts.  Major websites have traffic, yes, often dwarfing their 'conservative' counterparts, but all of politics, combined, is far less a part of all internet traffic as a whole: politics is disintermediated so other people can do more interesting things on the net.

Before government starts to intrude on their lives.

Because the population has grown 'net savvy, and has new means and media types that are personal in nature, the ability of individuals to reach out to each other BEYOND partisan political points of the existing party structure is now coming into force in US politics.  The last of the old style elections are still going on, of course, but the new wave of how individuals seek rapport with each other to lead a good life will, by its own weight, shift politics.  The two party system has been losing steam and power for decades as seen by the percentage of eligible voters actually utilizing their franchise right as seen by the Census Bureau:

Congressional Election cycle graph percent

Presidential Election cycle graph percent

Along with the decline in support for gun control, and the decline in readership of newspapers has gone, hand-in-hand a decline in the exercise of the civil right to vote in elections.

This, too, is a signpost for the future.

Representative democracy, to be legitimate, must have a representational fraction of its population show up to vote not only in demographic outlays but in numbers.  When the sheer numbers start to dwindle the actual ability of the remaining faction to know what so many people are thinking is limited.  We each vote for ourselves, not each other, and we are not determining the route of the Nation based on broad-based popular support but on narrow-base support amongst those still exercising their franchise.  Many peoples across the world have paid dearly in blood to win the right to vote, yet Americans have been slowly sliding away from that right and withdrawing their support for government.  While it may have tart humor the phrase 'Don't vote, it just encourages them' has had the opposite effect of encouraging minorities, particularly organized Progressive minorities, in each party that has sought to impress its ideals upon society via the organs of government.  When popular support diminishes, authoritarianism rises as those seeking an 'agenda' push for it, be it from the Left or Right.

These signposts are clear in their statement: the current political structure of the Nation must change to suit society.

Not suit society so as to change it to make it easier to rule.

Each of these factors point to a new basis that is growing for new political outlooks.

Such a social shift gaining political expression cannot be centralized and overbearing: Tea Parties are the first sign of popular support for limited and meaningfully accountable government.  This starts with movement on lower spending and taxation from the local to the National level, so its large-scale effects may take some years to be felt.  The organizing for them has not stopped, the protests continue on and in a declining economic climate those without work will have time to consider their condition and the source of it, being government mandates, spending and attempts to make local and State government arms of the federal government.

The expression of the fundamental and inalienable Rights of Man gains expression outside of direct politics but is having an effect.  It is along a pathway I talked about and have talked about in many areas: the ethical and responsible self-arming of citizens for the protection of themselves and society.  This has been written about in the San Diego Reader by Rosa Jurjevics, 15 JUL 2009 (H/t: Instapundit), which examines the Open Carry movement as seen in San Diego.  It is interesting that one of the last States in the Continental US to be the 'Wild West' still has those laws on the books, and folks at Calguns and California Open Carry are now putting their civil rights forward and protecting them in the harshest Progressive State in the Union.  While small this, too, is slowly permeating into the culture from its majority position after decades of authoritarian responses by government to civil firearms ownership.  Southern Maryland Shooters are helping to organize an Open Holster Day in Baltimore on 01 AUG 2009 to show that those who are responsible shooters are your friends and neighbors. The NRA is also running USA Carry for Open and Concealed Carry site to help bring social awareness to how important this civil right is in our communities across the Nation.

One of the prime reasons the 14th Amendment incorporated the Bill of Rights into the States was to ensure that post-Civil War black families and communities would have legal recourse to protecting themselves.  Not just the right to vote and freedom of speech, but the right of defending yourself was seen as a prime and necessary right so that one's liberty was not put at risk by those seeking to intimidate or kill individuals due to race.  The modern Left has forgotten this most primary of concepts and is now facing a situation of retreat: something that shouldn't ever happen if your 'Progressive' stance is correct.  By having put so much energy into this over the last decades and gotten only a few States to forget their duties under the Constitution in Article I, Section 10, the society of the Nation now pushes back to ensure that civil rights, all civil rights, are respected.

This is not the return of the Wild West to US culture, but a change in stance to one that leads to a better integration and understanding of one's civil rights across the board.  Discrimination based on one's want to defend themselves is no better, and actually far worse, than discrimination on race, age, gender, or any other basis, as it removes the ability to protect yourself from extremism of those looking to intimidate or kill you based on those other biases.  Montana is one of the first States to begin re-asserting its sovereignty for its citizens by moving to change the gun laws for its citizens.  This puts Montana and other States that follow it, like Tennessee, into a direct clash with modern Progressive government ideals of centralizing government to dictate rights to the people, and the rights of the people and the States to defend themselves as is stipulated in the Constitution. 

A process such as this hits directly on the very rationale of a BATF and attempts to regulate firearms on a National basis without the input of EACH of the States, not just representatives in DC.  As each State has the right to autonomously defend itself from invasion or during times of danger, the federal government has stepped into restricting the sovereignty of the States without first regularizing what the States want done.  While the Militia Act of 1903 puts stipulations on the organized and unorganized militia, it does not allow for federal oversight of the latter, which is given to the States and with incorporation of the 2nd Amendment by the 14th Amendment, the States may not restrict ownership of firearms for the civil population save as a criminal penalty via due process of law.  Even that latter sees juries not convict individuals who had their life put in danger and were threatened with lethal force and regained their right of self-defense via Nature.  Civil society understands this and juries will refuse to convict on that basis.

The fundamental underpinnings of the US Constitution are brought out by the 2nd Amendment movement for civil use of firearms and to de-stigmatize them and ensure that the larger population understands just why responsible ownership, use and carry of them is not only legitimate but necessary to one's liberty and freedoms.

Progressives and authoritarians have pushed hard for over a century in America.

Now the signposts to the era beyond it are starting to be seen in the fog.

The 21st Century will not be the 20th, and like the 20th I doubt we will see much of the structure of large scale governments survive to the end of the 21st.  The 20th started in the last glory days of Empires still vying for power on a global scale.  The 21st sees entrenched government authoritarianism and elitism in power across Europe, the Americas, Asia and thugocracies and kleptocracies in Africa.  The dream of human liberty and freedom given its play has never, ever been an easy one as those that seek to use the negative power of government to gain tyrannical and despotic ends changes form but never direction.  Yet, in America, the response to such overbearing and officious government seeking to dictate to the people is clear.  The laundry list of abuses may change, but the abuses continue.  What started in 1765 took years to get to the point of 1776.

Backlashes take time to build.

Once built they are very hard to stop without bloodshed.

And that is done on the side of those seeking power, not those seeking liberty and freedom.

America has always kept a civil mood and society, even leading up to the Revolution.

The people stood to defend themselves.

It took a government seeking power to kill.

Such as it was, so shall it be.

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