Juanita Williams: Guest opinion | AspenTimes.com

Juanita Williams: Guest opinion

Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

The United States of America has a fascinating, exceptional history. It makes a fun read and gives her people much to be thankful for.

“Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith and Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage … ” is the start of the first line of the Mayflower Compact. The Compact was signed by men known as “separatists” who fled religious persecution and possible imprisonment for rejecting the Anglican faith forced upon the English populace. It was to be the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony.

Headed for Virginia, the ship blew off course, and the Pilgrims wound up establishing their colony at Cape Cod. On Nov. 11, 1620, while still aboard ship, 41 men signed this Mayflower Compact, which had important influence on our Constitution.

In the absence of England’s governance and regulations, the colonies thrived, grew and prospered. England decided to tax the successful colonists, though the colonists had no representative in Parliament, and that oppression of taxation without representation led to the Boston Tea Party in December 1773!

That Tea Party led to the Revolutionary War, the establishment of the Continental Congress in 1775 and, on July 4, 1776, the approval of the Declaration of Independence. This famous line says it all for this awesome country: “We hold these truths 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.”

Our Founding Fathers were imperfect beings; they made mistakes. The Civil War helped correct one. They were exceptionally hardy and determined. They forged westward and expanded the idea of a republic – a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The meaning was that the government was run by the people (not the government itself) and the government was only in place to protect the people. We the people were to elect or hire officials, but we were to be the leaders – not them! Limited government was the expectation.

The result was a country that became the world leader economically and militarily. The U.S. led the world in industrialization, inventions and extraction of natural resources. U.S. citizens were free to practice whatever religion they preferred, speak out against their government, enjoy freedom of the press, peacefully assemble and petition the government for “redress of grievances.” American citizens were free to move around the country and live wherever they wished. They were free to start businesses and pursue happiness so long as no one was harmed.

From the time that progressives entered the picture, there has been an attitude among them that Americans had too much freedom. The American population unwittingly bought ideas (and candidates for public office) that sounded humanitarian on the surface but were designed to give the government more control over their lives and their incomes.

The misguided idea of economic equality spurred insidious legislations taking a country, founded on liberty, to ever-increasing regulations and government strangleholds. So-called progressives (a euphemism for socialist) pressed the appointments of judges who shared their views.

Originally the states were taxed, but the federal government could not tax citizens directly. The states were sovereign. Significant change began with the 16th and 17th amendments. The 16th Amendment allowed our disastrous income tax, and the 17th changed the way senators are elected.

This, many believe, resulted in the states losing any real representation they had in the federal government as well as the overextension of the powers of the federal government. Furthermore, special interest groups rushed to fill the vacuum previously occupied by the state legislatures as their powers became insignificant. Additionally, the establishment of the Federal Reserve has had disastrous consequences that few truly understand.

Mostly what people hear is what was wrong with America, but there was much that was right with America. The love and appreciation of their own freedoms, the love of God and country, had encouraged U.S. citizens to be generous to others in need. America is usually the first and most generous country to respond to disasters or needs in other countries. America’s citizens give more to charities and missionaries than citizens from any other country.

Unfortunately, the greatest country in the world is imploding from within due to the lack of understanding of our beginning and our Constitution. Modern education has failed to create appreciation for the importance of the original amendments and the logic behind them. Nor were the Americans fully cognizant of the negative impact some of the newer amendments would have.

In spite of our flaws, this is still the country that others flock to for opportunities unavailable in their own countries. We must have done something right.

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