POLITICS IS WAR BY OTHER MEANS

It is clear that war is not a mere act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means. — Karl von Clausewitz in On War (from here)

On November 2nd we will hold an election. In most elections, most people pay little attention. Although we hold an election every year, only a presidential election reliably draws the participation of most of the electorate. Since this is not a presidential election, I fear most people will not show up. That is sadly irresponsible.

Read the Declaration of Independence. Consider why the American colonies rebelled against George III of Great Britain. Understand that every man who signed that document risked being hung. Just signing that document vastly complicated their lives. The American Revolutionary War did not end until 1783. Because British troops were better trained, equipped, and more numerous, during most of the war the American Continental Army spent much of the war on the run. That generally meant the soldiers of the American Continental Army ate poorly and suffered from the weather due to inadequate quarters.

When the war ended, the battles did not.  The Founders still had to resolve the fundamental issue raised by the Declaration of Independence? How could they institute a government that recognized the truths they held to be self-evident, “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”? Since no such government actually existed, their labors continued.

The Founders had first tried to solve the problem of a national government with Articles of Confederation (completed in 1777, from here). However, this first American constitution proved inadequate. That constitution did not allow the 13 colonies to act with one accord with respect to foreign policy nor did it promote a national economy. So some of the founders went to work crafting and promoting the adoption of The United States Constitution (adopted in 1787, from here).

For well over a decade, the people who founded this nation spent much of their time and wealth fighting and enduring the rigors of hard work striving for freedom. Even after war ended, they traveled far from home on dirt roads, walking, on horseback, or in horse-drawn carriages. Yet they still had not completed their work. The new government had to be staffed and made to function as originally intended. Who would interpret that intent? Would their new rulers care for a free citizenry? That would depend upon who ruled. Not willing to risk their freedom, most of the Founders participated in the new government, and that participation made all the difference.

It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt. — John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election for Lord Mayor of Dublin, 1790. (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.) as quoted in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (from here)

Each election is a contest fought over our rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Even though no man will slay another in anger, we risk as much as we might in warfare. Therefore, if we are to ensure the safety of our families, friends, homes, and communities, we must conscientiously participate.

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