The American experiment is failing

By Kyle Williams

“[T]he sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered,” President George Washington said in his first inaugural address, “as deeply, perhaps finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

The responsibility of that experiment includes the requirement of the people to keep and protect the unalienable rights that were given by God and granted by the Constitution.

Benjamin Franklin warned the American people to not trade liberty for security and said those who would give up liberty for security deserve neither. Yet, just like every other piece of advice the founders gave us, Americans have taken it with a grain of salt and have forgotten about it.

What am I writing about? Well, on Wednesday, a very disturbing annual “State of the First Amendment” poll was released by the First Amendment Center.

The results of the poll show a dramatically high dependence and trust for government, but also show extremely high ignorance regarding the purpose and the content of the Constitution.

The poll, which was conducted by the University of Columbia’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis, found that 49 percent of Americans believe that the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it grants and guarantees.

The statistics also show that half of Americans say that the press has been too aggressive in asking government officials for information regarding the war on terrorism. However, the American public is once again in disagreement with the Founders, for Thomas Jefferson said, “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed.”

According to this poll, more than 40 percent of Americans also said that academic freedom should be limited so that professors cannot criticize government military policy.

Yet, it goes on to even more disturbing statistics. About half of those surveyed said that the FBI should be able to monitor religious groups in the name of national security, even if that means infringing on religious freedoms.

These answers are being provided by people who couldn’t even say that the First Amendment grants freedom of speech. Moreover, only 2 percent of those surveyed could recite every right the Amendment grants!

In times of war, reason is replaced with fear, and government capitalizes on that. In the USA Patriot Act, the government edged into the rights of the people, giving great power to the attorney general.

But the First Amendment grants freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, as well as the right to peaceably assemble and petition the government. These things are not privileges, but legal rights that we can exercise even if we offend someone or agitate some government official.

Yet, the rights of the people will continue to be usurped by politicians – and those “representatives” know they can get away with more and more.

The only thing that makes America unique are these constitutional rights that have been granted and given by God. Yet, Americans are asking our government to take it away for security! Much has changed since the founding of our country.

Years ago, there was a petition created that had the text of the Bill of Rights on it. All indications that it was the Bill of Rights, except for the actual text, were taken out of the petition. However, Americans refused to sign it, thinking it was too radical. That is the measure of our ignorance.

Americans are still badly out of touch with reality and the road we are headed down is lunacy. Level heads and responsible minds are of the minority these days. Government has become blindly supported … and that’s called patriotism?

The American experiment is failing.