Whatever political party you belong to, whatever you think is right and wrong with this country, there are some very basic things that you can do to, some basic principles that you can follow, to keep America free.
Singing God Bless America won’t do it. Waving the flag won’t do it. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance won’t do it. Shooting off fireworks on the 4th of July won’t keep America free, either.
Sure, it’s a lot harder to consider the list below than to wear a red, white and blue baseball cap, but then, the most important freedoms are the most difficult to maintain.
The following are 25 simple, but not always easy, thoughts and deeds that will keep America free if Americans choose to pursue them.
1. Read the Constitution
2. Pursue as much education as you can afford, and maybe a little more
3. Get your news from at least 5 different sources
4. Turn off your TV. Read.
5. Talk about politics and religion at the dinner table
6. Join the ACLU
7. Learn to distinguish between symbols of freedom and freedom itself, and keep hold of the real thing
8. Reject all plans for security that require the sacrifice of freedom
9. Write, phone, fax, email and visit your representatives
10. Speak your mind, no matter how unpopular its thoughts
11. Listen when others speak their minds
12. Speak up for others whose freedoms are in jeopardy
13. Forgive the flaws of politicians, but measure their promises upon past performance
14. Presume innocence and entertain reasonable doubts
15. Beware leaders who say that you have evil enemies
16. Ask questions of authority
17. Protest and disobey unjust laws
18. Find and organize with people of like minds
19. Learn about all the candidates for elected office – even the local ones
20. Donate to your favorite candidates – don’t let big business get all the influence
21. Find out which businesses donate to which kinds of candidates, and shop accordingly
22. Volunteer on your candidates’ campaigns
23. Register to vote
24. Vote in every election – even the odd years
25. If you don’t approve of the political parties, gather a large group of eligible friends, attend a local party meeting, and ask to be heard. If your concerns are not heeded, form a caucus, find out what the rules are and take over the local party apparatus! It’s yours, if you want it.
A final note: You’ll notice that waging war is not a part of that list.
Self-identified patriots are always keen to lecture the rest of us that our freedoms were hard-won and defended by soldiers’ bloodshed in wartime. Upon any consideration, that claim resembles like nothing so much as a wagonload of bullshit.
War does not create freedom, and it cannot defend freedom. War wins pieces of land and defends pieces of property. War kills freedom in the most powerful way possible.
Freedom is hard won and defended by courageous politicians and public servants with the citizens who support them.
Freedom is endangered by war.
Freedom is preserved through wise and just peace.