by Glenn Jacobs
The Declaration of Independence was not a singular event in American history. Years before that document was conceived, the political soil of the Colonies was being prepared for the American Revolution. Ironically, the British Crown itself planted many of the seeds of the Revolution: the Stamp Act, the Tea Act, and the Intolerable Acts among others. Patriots like Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams nourished and cultivated the idea that the aims of classical liberalism could come to fruition in America. The Declaration was simply the culmination of these events and efforts.
However, the Declaration was a revolutionary document. It signaled a clean and radical break with the status quo. Would the document have had the same effect, indeed would the American Revolution have succeeded at all, if Jefferson had written that the problem with the British government was simply that it was a government controlled by England and not by the Colonies? That the mercantilist system was unjust only in that it benefited the British business and not American business? That the inhabitants of the Colonies should still be subjects of a crown, but that king should be an American one and not an English one? Of course not.
As with colonial America, the soil is once again ripe for a revolution. Americans are desperate for change. For evidence of this, look no further than the messiah-like popularity of Barack Obama, who has made the term “change” the operative word of his presidential campaign. However, simply replacing Republicans with Democrats will not bring about the change that America sorely needs. Americans have been given a false choice between left and right, and have thus been distracted from the real culprit. A culprit that has caused or contributed to nearly every social problem facing our nation today. That culprit is Big Government. Just as Jefferson identified and articulated the Colonies’ grievances against George III, the R3volution must refocus America’s attention on the common enemy of individual liberty, Big Government.
The parallels to the Revolutionary period are startling. Big Government has planted the seeds which could lead to its demise. The vast majority of Americans agree that they pay too much in taxes. Even those that don’t believe this probably would probably agree that this money is too often wasted and would like to see it spent on things other than what it currently is. The proof that government doesn’t work is in the pudding, or in this case the tax return.
More importantly, however, is the fact that overwhelmingly Americans believe that the economy is in bad shape and getting worse. They’re right, but not for the reasons the politicians and their gatekeepers in the establishment media tell them. One of the myths of American history is that the American Revolution was mainly precipitated by the tax on tea. While it is true that the Colonies resented taxation without representation, a much larger issue was the Colonies’ deteriorating economic condition, a situation the Colonies blamed on the control that the English central bankers exerted on Parliament. According to Benjamin Franklin, economic “conditions [became] so reversed that the era of prosperity ended.” Franklin went on to say that “the Colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament, which has caused in the Colonies hatred of England and the Revolutionary War." Thus, the rejection of central banking was one of the driving forces behind the American Revolution.
Monetary policy is once again gaining importance in the public debate; a fact that is lost on the establishment media. Last summer I attended a Ron Paul rally. At the time, the media was attributing Dr. Paul’s surging popularity solely to his anti-war stand. However, while the audience responded positively to his entire message, it was Dr. Paul’s comments on sound money that nearly brought the roof down. If you wonder why our era of prosperity is ending, look no further than our own central bank, the Federal Reserve System; a point Ron Paul has made clear to thousands of Americans.
Economic freedom is impossible when a society’s medium of exchange, its money, is centrally controlled. Without economic freedom, personal and social liberty are also impossible, a fact the Founders well understood. What does is matter if you are allowed to do something if the resources you need to do it are confiscated through taxes? How can you engage in the activities you wish when you spend half your time working for the government? As more and more Americans ask these questions, the R3volutionary soil becomes richer and richer.
The R3volution will not be fought with guns, bullets, and bombs, but with ideas, concepts, and words. It will not be fought by armies in the field, but by individuals changing the minds of other individuals, one by one. While none of us can change the world alone, when all of us work to change our little corner of it we can accomplish great things.
Many, however, including some within the R3volution itself, misunderstand what this whole thing is really about. The R3volution was never just about electing Ron Paul president. It was never just about restoring the Republic or saving the Constitution. While those are noble ends in themselves and certainly goals towards which we should work, the R3volution is about something much bigger. The R3volution is our “rendezvous with destiny.”
In his famous 1964 speech nominating Barry Goldwater as the Republican presidential nominee, a very libertarian sounding Ronald Reagan used the term “rendezvous with destiny” to describe the choice facing the American people during that election cycle. Today this choice is even clearer. The seeds have been planted and the soil is ripe for revolution. The question is what kind of revolution are we going to have? Will it be a revolution that makes a complete break with the traditional American values of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and limited government? A revolution in which we surrender our control over and the responsibility for our lives to politicians and bureaucrats? A revolution that will bring authoritarianism, war, poverty, and despair? Or will it be a R3volution that continues the one that began in 1776? A R3volution which reaffirms individual’s natural right to control his own life and to peacefully interact with other sovereign individuals? A R3volution that will bring liberty, peace, prosperity, and hope?
America, the choice is ours to make. And the time to make it is now.
Glenn Jacobs, a staunch libertarian and avid student of Austrian economics, is best known from his career in sports entertainment.