Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day

Since the United States ended the draft in 1972, Americans, in general, have lost touch with the cost of freedom -- military service. Before then, a majority of America's young men spent time in one of the nation's armed forces. Today, less than 1 percent of American families shoulder the burden of fear and sacrifice of military service, and they shoulder it for the entire nation. Here is the natural result:

A couple of years ago, on or about Veterans' Day, our bishop asked all veterans to stand and be recognized. Of a congregation of some 400, only about a half dozen stood. A generation ago, at least half the men would have been on their feet along with some of the women.

I think that our nation has paid a very dear price by isolating itself from those who wear the uniform. Few know or understand the toll on those who serve and especially on their families. Additionally, because few Americans share the burden, today's servicemen spend a far portion of their service in actual combat than any armed force in history.

All Americans can think about is barbecues, car races, and Memorial Day sales. I hear people greet each other with, "Happy Memorial Day." To those of who have served and to those of us who have lost family and friend to war, it's not a happy day. It's a solemn and sacred day.

In memory of my fallen brothers and sisters in arms and the families they left:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. - John Stuart Mill

Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude; American will never forget their sacrifice. - President Harry S. Truman

They fought together as brothers-in-arms, they died together, and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation. - Admiral Chester Nimitz

They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation. – Henry Ward Beecher

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13
On this Memorial Day, I highly recommend reading Six Seconds to Live and Ask me about my son’s sacrifice.

Thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Guardsmen have been killed in the War on Terror. The Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund honors the bravery and dedication exhibited by Americans in our Armed Forces who have sacrificed life or limb defending our country by providing educational scholarships to their children. Please support the The Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The people of WalMart

Why don't I get to see people like these at the Walmart where I live?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The measure of a presidential candidate

A far-too-common flaw in those who seek political office is that they spend too much time talking and not enough time listening. I expect that of a liberal, since they rarely are interested in facts and other forms of truth. But this failure to listen also afflicts those who pretend to be conservatives (ie Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, etc.). These "conservatives" typically show up at a TEA Party rally or an NRA Annual Meeting just in time for their turn to speak, then vanish. They never stick around long enough to hear what other speakers are saying, let alone what the audience has to say. Consequently, all they know about issues is what their handlers feed them. Romney is probably the most guilty of this behavior of any politician I've personally listened to. And it shows.

In predicting a general apostasy from the Church, the Apostle Paul wrote
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. — 2 Timothy 4:3-4
It seems to me that Romney and most other politicians expect the masses to have "itching ears" when it comes to politics just as they do with the Gospel. It appears that Romney, like Obama, finds plenty of "itching ears" in his audiences.

Some friends and relatives are annoyed by the fact that I do not support Mitt Romney for president. These sheeple support him for one reason: they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) as is Romney and as am I. I, on the other hand, find that a candidate's status as a member of any church is immaterial for political office. religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. — US Constitution, Article VI
I cannot support or vote for a former LDS bishop and stake president (LDS lay positions in which Romney once served) whose record on moral issues (marriage, abortion, homosexuality, etc) is inconsistent with the standards of his church, the will of God, the will of the majority of the People, and even the values expressed his party's platform.

Mormons who support Mitt Romney for president need to stop and consider the adverse attention his political baggage imposes on the Church. I don't think the Evangelical concerns about Romney are as much about the Mormon faith itself as it is about his personal betrayal of essential Christian moral principles. One must wonder how much that betrayal harms the image of the Church.

Perhaps key to his chances of winning the Whitehouse, Romney's history on moral and big-government issues so closely parallels Obama's, most voters may see no reason not to vote for the incumbent! In fact, I believe that had Romney won the 2008 election, we'd still have ObamaCare, but with a different name. (I assume Romney might have been a bit better for the economy, though, and we might not have new Supreme Court Justices quite as radical as Sotomayor and Kagan.)

Romney's stated (but not demonstrated) stand on some of the more controversial issues (abortion, gun control, homosexual marriage) has shifted in his effort to pander to conservative Republicans. Nevertheless, he continues espouse big-government, anti-liberty, anti-self-reliance ideas such as carbon taxes, government-mandated health care, gun-control, government subsidies, and man-made global warming. His willingness to fall for (or endorse) the global-warming scam is troubling.

About a year ago, Connor Boyack wrote:
The label of “flip-flopper” may very well be appropriate, but an analysis of Romney’s positions across the board and over time lend more support to the critique that he is rather like a political chameleon, changing himself to blend in with whatever environment he happens to be in. Indeed, to determine Romney’s political affiliation at any given moment, one need only determine to which audience he is addressing himself in hopes of winning a popular vote. Thus, his foundation-less platform has morphed as he courted voters first in Massachusetts, then later across the nation.
I will not vote for or support a candidate based on his religious affiliation (especially if his actions are grossly incompatible with the moral stands taught by his religion) any more than I will for the color of his skin or his political party affiliation. These three criteria are invalid measures of a candidate. Any voter who thinks they are valid measures is part of the problem and should be ashamed.

Instead, I vote based on principles found in the word of God as revealed though His prophets and in the nation's founding documents. I expect political leaders to be similarly guided by principles -- not by "itching ears."
Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual - or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country. — Samuel Adams (Boston Gazette, 1781)

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. — John F. Kennedy

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. — Thomas Jefferson

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost. — John Quincy Adams

Americanism is a question of principles, of idealism, of character: it is not a matter of birthplace or creed or line of descent. — Theodore Roosevelt
Mitt Romney is the worst kind of politician. He has absolutely no foundation based on principle. This chameleon tailors his message based on what is politically expedient. Some argue that he is the only person who can beat Obama. Pundits claim that independent voters will only respond to a pandering "moderate" like Mitt Romney. They said the same thing about their favorite "conservative" John McCain. How did that work out? Independent voters, like Conservatives, don't want a weak-kneed panderer, they want someone who is guided by principle even if they don't always agree with them (ie Ronald Reagan)!

Although he can speak coherently without a teleprompter, Mitt Romney does not measure up.
Everyone wants to vote for the best and most qualified man, but he never runs for office. — Will Rogers

Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against. — WC Fields

Monday, May 23, 2011

Walgreens betrays an employee and its customers

Walgreens has chosen to terminate Pharmacist Jeremy Hoven after he fired his handgun to foil an armed robbery and a potentially deadly hostage situation at the store. He was fully and legally justified in his actions. Unfortunately those actions apparently annoyed his employer, Walgreens.

I respect property rights. I respect the right of Walgreens to establish whatever policy it chooses with regard to its property.

However, Walgreens has a hoplophobic anti-self-defense policy and Walgreens fails to provide adequate armed security to take the place of self-defense. I therefore consider Walgreens stores to be an unsafe place to spend my money and time.

Think about this Walgreens management: If Jeremy Hoven were still working at the Benton Town­ship Walgreens, those two wannabe armed robbers would be very unlikely to return to that store. Since Hoven has been terminated, that store has been widely publicized as an easy target!

Until Jeremy Hoven is restored to his job with full back pay and an award for his heroism and Walgreens' anti-gun policies are rescinded nationwide, I will exercise my right to no longer patronize Walgreens' unsafe stores, including the new Walgreens in Cedar City, Utah.

I am sharing my concerns with my readers and other friends and family.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Civil Asset Forfeiture is Unconstitutional and Evil

Civil asset forfeiture is government seizure of property or cash owned by individuals who are only charged with a crime. Law enforcement agents can seize a piece of property if they merely suspect it was used in a crime, whereas its owner must prove innocence to get it back. It doesn't even matter that no crime actually occurred! Asset forfeitures total over $2 billion a year in property. Roughly 80% of the people who lose property to seizures are never charged with a crime. All of them have to sue the government to get their property back.

This is an egregious inversion of justice and a gross violation of the Bill of Rights. Congress and each state legislature must immediately:

• Require full Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendment protection for all federal proceedings against owners of personal property.
• Permit seizures of criminal profits only upon criminal conviction of its owner.
• Permit seizures of legally-owned property only if its owner is convicted of a crime, to pay for fines, court costs, or restitution.
• Withhold federal funds to all state and local law enforcement agencies that engage in civil asset forfeiture.
• Enforce the 14th Amendment's requirement that "no person shall be deprived, without due process of law" by allowing victims of state and local seizures to contest forfeitures in federal court.

Courts have failed to protect the property of persons who have never been convicted or even charged. Law enforcement agencies have even taken exploited asset forfeiture for profit and to fund/equip their departments. Congress must ensure civil asset forfeiture is immediately abolished.
Asset forfeiture is a mockery of the Bill of Rights. There is no presumption of innocence, no need to prove you guilty (or even charge you with a crime), no right to a jury trial, no right to confront your accuser, no right to a court-appointed attorney (even if the government has just stolen all your money), and no right to compensation for the property that's been taken. -- Harry Browne (1933-2006)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Goodwin Liu is an enemy to the Constitution

Perhaps the most important role for a legislator, president, or judge is to know and strictly follow the US Constitution. For this reason, the Constitution requires that all federal judges be confirmed by the US Senate. The Senate's job is to ensure that presidential nominees, especially judges, intimately know and consistently follow the Constitution.

As far as has been disclosed to the People, Senators do not take an oath to any political ideology, political party, party leader, king, president, or even the desires of constituents! They take an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" (ie most Obama nominees).

Goodwin Liu has been nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. I am satisfied that he is not fit for that position because of his anti-Constitution history.

• Liu believes in a "living Constitution." In other words, the Constitution means whatever he wants it to mean. He said, "I think that [originalism is] nice in theory, but the reality is...the job of courts really awareness of the evolving norms and social understandings of our country." Liu also wrote: "For too long, liberals, progressives and moderates have been defensive about how the Constitution should be interpreted." Anyone who has read and studied the US Constitution knows that it has a built-in mechanism for adaptation -- an amendment process. There is nothing in there that authorizes any judge to do the amending!
• He finds it "difficult to grasp" that foreign law should not be used to interpret the US Constitution.
• Liu would impose homosexual marriage. He submitted an amicus brief in favor of gay marriage and called the majority of California voters a "narrow and ultimately temporary majority."
• He would create a "Constitutional" right to welfare and consequently a right to the earnings of hard-working taxpayers. He believes that "judicial recognition of welfare rights depends on socially situated modes of reasoning...."
• Liu is so soft on crime that he is opposed by a bi-partisan majority (42 of 58) of California DAs (District Attorneys). The DAs cite: "[Liu's] views on criminal law, capital punishment, and the role of the federal courts...[as cause for] the Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to reject this nomination."
• He was highly critical of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. For example, Liu believes that "because [Roberts] would sit with life tenure" Senators should inquire about specifics on their views of so called "gay rights," "abortion rights," "the environment, "home grown marijuana," "environmental laws," "affirmative action," professional associations, and a host of other issues which are properly addressed by the People through their elected representatives -- not by judges. I counter that by demanding that "because [Liu] would sit with life tenure" Senators should inquire about specifics on his views of the "Constitution as the Supreme Law of the Land," who has authority and responsibility to amend the Constitution, and whether those who don't work have a right to the fruits of the labors of the workers.

Liu clearly is a radical activist who wants to move the courts and our country in the wrong direction -- further away from the Constitution and toward judicial tyranny.

Every Senator has a sworn obligation to take every possible step to ensure that Goodwin Liu is never confirmed for any federal judgeship. Every Senator has a sworn obligation to demand that the president henceforth nominate only persons who know and follow the Constitution for judicial and administrative positions.

I consider a vote for Liu is the same as a vote against the Constitution.

"He who does not punish evil commands it to be done." — Leonardo da Vinci

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What are rights?

By our very endowment as children of an Eternal Father, we have had implanted within our souls the urgency to be free. It is natural for us to want to be accountable for our own fates, because there is a whispering within us confirming that this accountability is absolutely essential to the attainment of our eternal destiny. — Dean L. Larsen (Ensign, May 1980)

The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. — John F. Kennedy

All men are, or ought to be free, possessing unalienable rights, and the high and noble qualifications of the laws of nature and of self-preservation, to think, and act, and say as they please, while they maintain a due respect to the rights and privileges of all other creatures, infringing upon none. — Joseph Smith (History of the Church 5:156)

A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate. — Thomas Jefferson (Rights of British America, 1774)

It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights – the "right" to education, the "right" to health care, the "right" to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle. — Alexis de Tocqueville
For several decades, Americans have had a distorted understanding of rights and privileges. This distortion is often deliberate. Here are some clarifications:

▪ In most countries, rights are considered to be permissions and gifts granted by the government. There are many in the US who share this belief.
▪ On the other hand, our nation’s founders believed that rights are freedoms given to us by God because we are His children and because we are created in His image. They expressed this belief in the Declaration of Independence: "....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."
▪ The Declaration of Independence goes on to say that " secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...." Note that the nation is founded to protect God-given rights -- not to grant them nor to restrict them.
▪ Rights are freedoms we’re entitled to based on our citizenship.
▪ Rights include whatever one is not prohibited to do or have.
▪ Rights possessed by one person do not come at a cost to any other person. (I do not have a right to demand you to pay any of my bills – including health care -- directly or through taxation. My right to swing my arm ends at the tip of your nose.)
▪ If you have to ask permission, it's not a right it's a privilege.
▪ Rights can be forfeited due to criminal acts.
▪ Rights can be forfeited if not exercised.
▪ Rights can be taken if we elect politicians who restrict our rights.
▪ Examples of rights: freedom of speech, freedom or religion, freedom to bear arms, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, right to privacy, property rights.

▪ A privilege is an immunity or benefit granted to, and enjoyed by, a person beyond the advantages of other people under certain conditions.
▪ Privileges are acts we are allowed to do and things we are allowed to possess.
▪ Privileges are extra benefits given to a person or group.
▪ Privileges must be earned or gifted or purchased.
▪ Privileges often come at a cost to others such as teenager driving a parent’s car or driving on a highway paid for at taxpayer expense.
▪ Privileges can be lost due to abuse by self or others.
▪ Privileges can be lost if not exercised.
▪ Privileges can be lost if we elect politicians who restrict our privileges.
▪ Examples of privileges: driving a car, hunting, building a house, engaging in occupations which require licensing such as medicine or law.
▪ Over time, we the people have allowed (sometimes demanded) government to convert some rights to privileges. For example, in times past, anyone could start and run a business or build a house. Today, one must first obtain government permission (a license) and comply with certain laws. In many jurisdictions, owning a firearm is no longer a right. Instead, one must first obtain government permission (a license). Possession of certain types of firearms and accessories (ie machine guns) requires government permission (a license).

▪ Responsibility means accountability.
▪ Responsibility means accepting consequences for one's own actions or inaction.
▪ Responsibility is a duty to control one's own life and behavior.
▪ Responsibility means not blaming others for one’s own failures.
▪ Responsibility means making good decisions.
▪ Responsibility means not expecting or demanding that they are entitled to be a burden upon other persons or on any organization, including the government.
▪ Responsibility means selflessly, voluntarily, and cheerfully helping those who truly need our help (D&C 42:30-31) while rejecting the idea that they can default that responsibility to others or to government. The more selfish a person is, the more that person tends to expect the government to take care of the needy. Jesus gave that responsibility to individuals -- not to the Caesar (the government).
▪ Responsibility means we use our rights and privileges wisely and without infringing the rights and privileges of others. For example, our right of free speech includes the responsibility to not lie. Our privilege to drive or to run a business includes the responsibility to obey the laws related to those activities. Our privilege to hunt does not include a right or privilege to waste game or to be cruel.

▪ Ethical behavior is doing what is right and fair and safe.
▪ Being ethical means respecting the rights, privileges, needs, and feelings of others.
▪ Being ethical means obeying laws. Some acts are legal, but still morally wrong and therefore unethical.
▪ Being ethical means being consistent with agreed or culturally-established principles of correct moral conduct.

How well people understand these concepts affects how they vote and how they behave. It affects how they expect and allow government to behave and treat our rights.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee. — Hosea 4:6

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. — John F. Kennedy

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. — Thomas Jefferson
Less than half the people in our republic pay all the income taxes in this nation. The rest of the people simply consume the services (free health care, food stamps, housing subsidies, etc.) funded by the rest. These people have no "skin in the game" when judging the ethical fitness of politicians and dependency-enabling programs they legislate. They (and the big-government politicians they vote for) call these services "entitlements" as if non-producers and under-producers are entitled to the fruits of the labors of others. Expecting others to involuntarily pay the bills (healthcare, housing, food, etc.) of non-producers, especially through government programs, conflicts with the teaching of Jesus (D&C 42:42). Doing so robs the recipient of his soul and the taxpayer of the blessings of charity.
The poor have been used as human shields behind which the expanding welfare state can advance. The goal is not to keep the poor from starving but to create dependency, because dependency translates into votes for politicians who play Santa Claus. We have all heard the old saying about how giving a man a fish feeds him for a day, while teaching him to fish feeds him for a lifetime. Independence makes for a healthier society, but dependency is what gets votes for politicians. For politicians, giving a man a fish every day of his life is the way to keep getting his vote. 'Entitlement' is just a fancy word for dependency." --economist Thomas Sowell
The people and their representatives must come to understand the differences between rights and privileges and responsibilities and the differences between charity and government "entitlements" (handouts). Only when they do so will the needy rise out of multi-generation dependence on the dole -- which they erroneously view as their right.
The language Congress uses to describe their spending is corrupt beyond redemption. Think about the term entitlement. If one American is entitled to something he didn't earn, where in the world does Congress get the money? It's not Santa or the Tooth Fairy. The only way Congress can give one American a dollar is to first take it from another American. Therefore, an entitlement is a congressionally given right for one American to live at the expense of another. In other words, Congress forcibly uses one American to serve the purposes of another American. As such, it differs in degree, but not kind, from that uglier part of our history where black people were forcibly used to serve the purposes of their slave masters. — Walter E Williams, Economist
Americans, in general, are generous people -- the most charitable on Earth -- a direct result of our founders' understanding of, and efforts to protect, our rights as well as our Judeo-Christian heritage. Americans are being deprived of the opportunity to be as charitable and they could be due to the fact that far too much of the fruits of their labors are diverted by force (taxation) to provide for intentional non-producers, intentional underachievers, and the bureaucracies that support their slothfulness. That is what happens when rights are infringed and privileges become rights.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Meme Busters: Osama Bin Laden Edition

Anyone who has to announce to the world that he made a "gutsy call" didn't.

It takes absolutely no unusual courage to, in wartime, kill an enemy by proxy from the comfort of one of the most secure buildings on Earth -- with his entire staff urging him to make a decision!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Armed pilots vs hijackers

Last weekend, a Yemeni man shrieking "Allahu akbar!" at the top of his lungs more than 30 times rushed the cockpit door twice intending to take down American Airlines Flight 1561 and kill everyone on board.

Despite a massive transportation and homeland security apparatus which defies the 4th Amendment, Rageh Ahmed Mohammed al-Murisi was able to board and attack a US airliner! He had no keys, no luggage, $47 cash, two curious posted checks totaling $13,000, and a trove of expired and current state IDs from New York and California. He is young, male, brought no family with him, had no job or other discernible income, and hails from the terror-coddling nation of Yemen whose citizens warrant increased scrutiny by DHS.

Meanwhile, 90-year-old American grandmothers get virtual strip searches and Miss USA gets gropped!

Secretary Janet "The System Worked" Napolitano's "security" failed again. (Nobody knows why she hasn't yet been fired in disgrace.) Only the heroes of Flight 1561 who refused to sit silent learned the proper 9/11 lesson and brought al-Murisi down. The only effective homeland security begins and ends with a culture of self-defense.

Part of that self-defense is armed pilots: Federal Flight Deck Officers (FFDOs). There have been many calls for enhancing the FFDO program. So far, most of these calls appear to have been ignored. I am convinced that the most urgent FFDO program enhancement is international carry of the FFDO's firearm. Congress and the Whitehouse must establish immediate worldwide carry for FFDOs completely unencumbered by bureaucratic and political red tape either by US or foreign governments. There is no room for compromise! Until that happens, all flights in US airspace and all flights flown by US carriers and all flights carrying even one US citizen must have inflight protection by US Air Marshalls.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Rating the gun laws of each state

The gun banners at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence trotted out their annual rating of state gun laws:

Now, for some annalysis of Helmke's press conference (note Helmke's huge attendance):

The heavy attendance and vibrant excitement at Helmke's press conference makes it obvious that Sarah Brady and Paul Helmke have distorted gun facts so often that nobody pays attention to them any more. They apparently can't even pay homeless actors to attend and cheer!

Click on your State on the Brady Campaign's website (linked above) to see how they rate the States. Virtually none of the criteria they use has anything to do with controlling criminal behavior! All their criteria does is determine how well a State's gun laws limit the freedom of responsible citizens!

We in Utah are proud to welcome Arizona and Alaska to our envied position as a Brady Campaign Zero. We look forward to the day when all States share our coveted status as a safe and Free State.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are we a democracy or a republic?

Sadly, I need to write this only because the government school system does a (probably deliberate) horrid job of teaching civics.

First, some basic definitions:
• state (small s) - A body politic of a particular sovereign power such as a nation.
• State (capital s) - One of the United States. A State is a sovereign political entity and is not comparable to a province.
• democracy (small "d") - A state where the vote of the majority rules. Everyone has a vote in every government act. Thanks to the progressive movement, many modern dictionaries include or substitute the definition of a republic in their definition of a democracy -- ignoring the classical definition of a democracy.
• Democrat (capital "D") - One of the two primary political parties of the United States. A member of the Democrat Party.
• republic (small "r") - A state in which the power exercised by elected representatives. Every citizen has a vote on who the representatives are, but the representatives make the decisions regarding government.
• Republican (capital "R") - One of the two primary political parties of the United States. A member of the Republican Party.
Many voters tend to selfishly vote to protect their personal interests, whatever they may be. Consequently, the interests of minorities can be overwhelmed by the majority. If a majority of voters were enlightened altruistic people, a democracy could be fair to minorities. Such is rarely the case. When it comes right down to it, a majority of Americans are deluded, irresponsible, complacent, blind, and, most importantly, miseducated and misinformed followers. They believe what they’re told, without taking a moment to question the judgement, morality, and intentions of those in charge and especially of the mainstream news media.
A primary object...should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing...than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country? — George Washington

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. — Thomas Jefferson

A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins. — Benjamin Franklin

Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. — John Adams (Defense of the Constitutions, 1787)

Do we really think that a government-dominated education is going to produce citizens capable of dominating their government, as the education of a truly vigilant self-governing people requires? — Alan Keyes

Few subjects are as important to the future of America as a thorough understanding and appreciation of the U.S. Constitution by every school student. It is not enough to simply praise the document as one of the foundations of our nation. It is essential that students learn why and how the Constitution governs the structure and function of government. It is crucial that students learn that government is empowered by the consent of the governed, not the other way around. They must learn that this power is transmitted to the government through the election process and that they, individually, bear the responsibility to choose candidates who reflect their views. They must learn that freedom in America is the reason why the nation has prospered. Freedom is neither granted nor guaranteed by the government. Government can only limit freedom. Freedom is granted by the Creator and guaranteed by responsible individuals who hold their government accountable. A thorough knowledge and appreciation of the US Constitution is the first step toward becoming a responsible citizen. The next step is to act continually on that knowledge, to keep government within the limits of power to which the people consent. — Henry Lamb

If you don't like living in a divided country, all you have to do is get yourself appointed to the university faculty somewhere and you will be able to experience the joys of living in a one-party state. — James Taranto

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be. — Thomas Jefferson

Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. — John F. Kennedy, 1963

Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge. — James Wilson (Of the Study of the Law in the United States, Circa 1790)

No people will tamely surrender their liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and virtue is preservd. On the contrary, when people are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their manners, they will sink under their own weight without the aid of foreign Invaders. — Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, 1775

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. — Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, 1820
Voters often are selfish, uninformed, ill-informed. or misinformed (watch any of Jay Leno's "jay-walking" episodes for proof). Consequently, the likelihood of wise governmental choices is sharply reduced. A mob defies the rule of law, yet it is a democracy. Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner is a democracy. This is why the nation's founders chose forming a republic over a democracy.

Fisher Ames, known as one of America's "forgotten" Founding Fathers wrote:
A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will produce an eruption and carry desolation in their way.
Again from Fisher Ames:
The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness which the ambitious call, and ignorant believe to be liberty. (Speech in the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 15 Jan 1788)
A quote attributed to Alexander Tytler also is appropriate here:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years.
In the US, we have reached that dangerous tipping point: 51% of American households now pay no income taxes. So, how is that 51% going to vote on taxes for the other 49%? How are they going to vote on so-called "re-distribution of wealth"?

In a representative government (a republic), the body of voters democratically elect people to represent them. Theoretically, the voters elect wise, selfless representatives. The representatives are tasked with making informed choices on behalf of the people. A good representative has the integrity and courage to make decisions which are unpopular to the majority when necessary such as to free the sheep. Sadly, a republic fails when representatives are corrupt or vote on self-interest (reelection) or bow to the factions with the most money or to what they perceive to be a majority (ie the 51% that pays no income tax). That is why the Bible instructs us to from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. (Exodus 18:21, New King James Version)
What does the US Constitution say of our form of government? It clearly describes a representative, or republican form of government. When asked by a passerby what sort of government the 1787 constitutional convention had formulated for the new nation, Benjamin Franklin memorably replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." George Washington wrote that
Republicanism is not the phantom of a deluded imagination. On the contrary,...under no form of government will laws be better supported, liberty and property better secured, or happiness be more effectually dispensed to mankind. (Letter to Edmund Pendleton, 1795)
James Madison wrote:
If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure for a limited period, or during good behavior. (Federalist No. 39)
It is appalling to see what many voters consider to be "good behavior" in their elected representatives. Surely, "good behavior" should include making wise decisions on our behalf.

Originally. only the House of Representatives was elected directly by the people. The Senate was elected by the State legislatures (unfortunately, this was changed to a direct election by the 17th Amendment in 1913). The President is elected by Electors -- not by direct vote of the people. (see Article II and the 12th Amendment of the US Constitution.)

No variation of the word "democracy" is found anywhere in the US Constitution -- republicanism is. Article IV, Section 4 of the US Constitution states:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government
The only true act of democracy in the United States is when we vote on referendums (when judges don't interfere). Referendums do not exist at the federal level.

In the United States, all Democrats are participants in a republican form of government and all Republicans are participants in a democracy when they vote in a referendum. But the bottom line is that in both a democracy and a republic, the source of government authority is the people. In both cases, the government serves the will of the people.

So, are we a democracy or a republic? I have concluded that we are neither. We are an oligarchy -- we are ruled by a relatively small group of incumbent politicians and a relatively small unelected group of people who make the decisions. We usually call the unelected rulers bureaucrats. Even if we were to impose term limits or otherwise "throw [all] the bums out," the bureaucrats would remain in power. Nothing would change. That is not democracy. It is not republicanism. Until "we the people" follow God's counsel in Exodus 18:21 and we insist that our representatives comply with the word and original intent of the Constitution, "we the people" have little true democratic control over our republic.

Here is a 33-question quiz on civics to see how prepared you are to vote.

Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill: How Great thou Art