Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Take Back Your Government

The timing of this post may seem odd to you- we have a huge amount of
time before the next set of elections (except for district 2
Nevadans!) - yet the races are starting and this is the most important
time for the individual citizen to get involved.

I'd like to recommend a book. It is, I believe, out of print in paper,
but Baen publishing has an ebook version available- without DRM as is
the policy of Baen publishing.

The book was originally written in 1946, and re issued in 1992. It was
re issued specifically to generate more impetus to a particular third
party candidate- but the book itself isn't written along any party
lines. Just about the only American political stance you will see it
stand against is classic political communism- which was and is
dictatorial and repressive.

I would like urge everyone to get, to read, and to enact in some small
way, this book. It's an easy read, written by someone who managed to
make a nearly obscene living off of writing well. So it's easy to get
through. It's also thought provoking- it demonstrates in many ways how
the culture and mechanisms of politics have changed over the decades
since WW2, and offers some pictures of what reforms could look like.

Quoted from the book, the author has 7 beliefs he has listed that are
a result of his working in politics on local through national levels:

"(1) Most people are basically honest, kind, and decent"

I'd like to point out that if you do NOT believe this, if you firmly
believe that people MUST be controlled to force them into decency
(what my childhood religion calls the Luciferian Error)- I will
probably stand against you in every poll. But don't let that stop you,
get this book!

"(2) The American people are wise enough to run their own affairs.
They do not need Fuehrers, Strong Men, Technocrats, Commissars, Silver
Shirts, Theocrats, or any form of dictator."

For reference, a Silver Shirt is a member of the defunct Silver Legion
of America, an openly fascist group founded by William Dudley Pelley,
who hoped to install himself as dictator in the 1930s.

A dictator in reference to the time period when this was written was
anyone who had anything approaching an absolute, or overly
influential, amount of power - "One who dictates". If a president
tries to assume congressional powers, he is attempting to be a
dictator. (I could point to several on both sides of aisle, I'm not
targeting a specific individual here)

The main point of this belief is that American citizens are wise
enough to run their own affairs. There are two aspects to that. One,
which I believe may be key in this election cycle- is that Americans
are wise enough to vote how they vote. We have had far too many
managed elections- and managed ballot lists- over the past several
cycles. Maybe we oughtta take that back.

The other aspect to this is a classically liberal belief that the
individual is wise enough to run his own affairs and governmental
intrusion into such should be limited. In fact, the structure of the
Bill of Rights to the Constitution is a prime example of Classic
Liberal thought.

"(3) Americans have a compatible community of ambitions. Most of them
don't want to be rich but do want enough economic security to permit
them to raise families in decent comfort without fear of the future.
They want the least government necessary to this purpose and don't
greatly mind what the other fellow does as long as it does not
interfere with them living their own lives. As a people we are neither
money mad nor prying; we are easy-going and anarchistic. we may want
to keep up with the Joneses -- but not with the Vanderbilts. We don't
like cops."

Greed is something that appears to me to be attempted to be instilled
in our children and selves by marketing campaigns- both commercial and
scholastic. I could not state absolutely that I agree with the author
at this point, but I can let it slide because most of the people I
know who are honest and decent do not want wealth for the purpose of
removing power from others. Good enough for me.

"The least government necessary to this purpose." - I know that a fair
percentage of the people I'm trying to reach will at this point
disagree with that phrase. The belief that we need government to
ensure fairness, elevate the oppressed, mandate rules and regulations
to prevent people from doing what another believes is harmful- Well,
I'll admit I don't totally disagree with that view. But, to me, the
least government necessary to the purpose of guaranteeing my children
access to healthy food is still the "least government necessary to the
purpose". Think on it.

Cops. It is almost a requirement in my line of work to idolize
policemen on a level equivalent to military veterans. (Since I hold
close to my heart a separation of civilian government and the
military, I have to disagree with this on some levels.) While I
appreciate the risks and service of the job, the point here is that
Americans don't want cops sniffing around everything they do. It has
become institutionalized to the point where I know a LOT of Americans
who won't allow their children to have a conversation with a uniformed
police officer or badged government representative because the
possibility of fishing for a crime is too great- and it is almost
impossible to be guilty of nothing in our current legal landscape. You
can end up being investigated for deprivation if your kid complains
about not ever getting candy, or investigated for neglect if he says he
eats candy all the time! What the author meant, I believe, is that
Americans don't like authoritarian busybodies.

"(4) Democracy is not an automatic condition resulting from laws and
constitutions. It is a living, dynamic process which must be worked at
by you yourself -- or it ceases to be democracy, even if the shell and
form remains."

Any of us, on any side of debate, could point to infringements of the
first, second, fourth, fifth, eighth, and fifteenth amendments in the
past decade once the amendments were pointed out to us. I won't go
talking about vigilant defence- but involvement. Your cell phone
camera may be the democratic sunshine tool of choice for youtube- but
voting and being involved in your party(ies) is much more effective in
the long term. just a letter, a phone call, 4 hours of volunteer work
make a difference.

"(5) One way or another, any government which remains in power is a
representative government. If your city is a crooked machine, then it
is because you and your neighbors prefer it that way -- prefer it to
the effort of running your own affairs...."

(the ellipsis refers to some notes on Hitler which were timely then
but I can safely leave out for the moment.)

I hear an argument from many persons- right and left and center- that
it's pointless to get involved because it doesn't matter. As long as
enough people believe that, it is to some extent true. If you abdicate
your franchise because "all politicians are bad"- you still abdicate
your franchise. Don't do it.

"(6) Democracy is the most efficient form of government ever invented
by the human race. One the record, it has worked better in peace and
war than fascism, communism, or any other form of dictatorship. As for
the mythical yardstick of "benevolent" monarchy or dictatorship --
there ain't no such animal"

Well, look. If you really don't believe this and think that there's
some justification for taking over the government on a NON
representative basis, then elections aren't your game anyway.

"(7) A single citizen, with no political connections and no money, can
be extremely effective in politics."

And that last point is where the book takes off. It's a manual of how
to apply number 7.

Here's what I want you to do, here's why I'm writing this. I want you
to get involved. I don't care if your politics agree with mine- I have
several major disagreements with the platforms of the Republicans, the
Democrats, and at least half the amazing hodge-podge of contradictions
that is the Tea Party (Bachman and Ron Paul in the same bed?!?!?!? how
on Earth?)

Disagree with me. or agree with me. Just do it in a more personal,
more active, more individual political manner.


The book: Take Back Your Government, 1946, 1992 by Robert A Heinlein

Published currently as an e-book by Baen, available here:


No, I have nothing to do with Baen except for some friendships with a
few authors who have published through them.

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