Close window  |  View original article

On Political Violence

There's no excuse for it, while we can still vote the bums out.

By Petrarch  |  March 31, 2010

I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.

- Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Imperial Japanese Navy

The airwaves and broadsheets of the mainstream media this week are overflowing with reports of right-wing violence and threats against Democratic leaders.  Racial slurs shouted at a black congressman who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!  A coffin placed on the lawn of another congressman's private residence!  A rock thrown through the office window of a third!

We could bore our readers by patiently debunking each and every accusation.  Video evidence shows a total absence of racial slurs during Congressman John Lewis' walk past the Tea Party protesters.  The coffin was a prop used as part of a prayer vigil mourning Russ Carnahan's pro-abortion vote symbolizing the many babies to be slaughtered as a result of his action.  Rep. Driehaus' office "is on the 30th floor of a skyscraper downtown" - the FBI will have to race to beat the Washington Nationals' pitching coach in the hunt for this stone-chucker!

Actual facts are beside the point.  The retraction is never as prominent as the initial accusation, and sooner or later there really will be some Neanderthal doing something stupid.  In a nation of 300 million people, how could there not be?  While the media seems to have conveniently forgotten the endemic violence on the Left at world trade meetings,  Republican conventions, and tea-party counter-protests, this is no more than the selective amnesia we have come to expect.  The plummeting ratings and increasing red ink of most media organizations will eventually solve the problem, but not anytime soon.

Instead, there's a more fundamental question at hand: Is violence, in fact, appropriate?  If so, when?  If violence becomes appropriate, how will we know?

Our Founders: Not Gandhi...

It shouldn't need pointing out, but our Founding Fathers were perfectly willing to resort to violence when that was their only option.  The Father of His Country and our First President was General George Washington. Not all of our founders personally fought in battle, but many did, and all supported the basic idea of an armed Revolution.

Not for them the "nonviolent protest" techniques of Gandhi, which worked in the dying days of an exhausted British Empire under the harsh light of global communications.  Ghandi's techniques would never have been effective against a British Empire in its prime years of expansion and with communications gaps measured in months.

What's more, many of the Founders didn't necessarily view the Revolution as a one-off event triggered by extraordinary circumstances unlikely to be repeated; they knew it might have to happen again, and yet again.  Thomas Jefferson famously said:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

The Constitution of the State of New Hampshire, written in the same era, explicitly grants citizens the right of revolution against an unjust government:

[Art.] 10. [Right of Revolution.] Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind[emphasis added]

If there is no other way to make the government answerable to the people than war, our Founders called for war and would advise us to wage war as they did.  Polls clearly indicate that a majority of Americans did not want Obamacare passed and, now that it has been passed, the majority don't want to keep it.

The ruling Democrats have blatantly ignored the Will of the People by cramming a repulsive bill through on a party-line vote.  They put on a spectacle riddled with bribery, arm-twisting, and extraordinary pressure, which is revolting to the American electorate who expect their elected representatives to take their oaths of office seriously.  Of course the American people are angry; how could they not be?

If the president and the leaders of his party in Congress think the American people are going to roll over and play dead after the biggest government power grab in history, they don't know this country.

Not quite time yet.

...But Not Bloodthirsty Either

So, we have a government which has proven itself to be utterly disdainful of the will of the people by running roughshod over the laws and customs of our country which have served us well for two centuries.  Man the battlements, and bring on the cannons!  Right?

Not so fast.  The colonial government our Founders grew up under was somewhat representative on the ground in that most of the colonies had elected legislatures granted certain powers.  Despite some local control, most executive authority was provided via the King's appointment of royal governors, made entirely without regard to the will of the people or the gross incompetence of the nominees.

What's more, in the years immediately preceding the Revolution, England's Parliament decided to pass bills of taxation and regulation on the Colonies, which had no voice or vote in Parliament of any kind.  Hence the slogan "No taxation without representation" - quite literally the case.  The laws collectively known to history as the Intolerable Acts were imposed by a faraway power with no consent of the people.

Even so, our Founders tried every peaceable means of redress.  Benjamin Franklin and others went to England to present America's case.  Letters of explanation and petition were repeatedly dispatched across the Atlantic.  The Continental Congress even sent the Olive Branch Petition to Parliament and the King after fighting had already begun.  Armed resistance was truly the last, reluctant resort.

In contrast, our current political leadership may have betrayed their trust and violated their oaths of office, but they were elected in a free and fair vote by the people who're now so unhappy with them.  We are convinced that the Democratic party and its corrupt allies such as ACORN used numerous types of fraud and intimidation to nudge close elections in their favor.

However, this power is clearly not absolute: there was never a bluer state than Massachusetts, nor a government infrastructure more thoroughly corrupted by public-sector unions and Democrat partisanship, yet Republican Scott Brown was confirmed as the winner of his Senate election and permitted to take his seat.

Do Democrats cheat?  We believe so, but only to the degree of a few percentage points.  Do Democrats lie?  Routinely; but the Internet still allows the truth to be proclaimed.

Do Democrats ignore the Constitution?  Transparently in the case of Obamacare, but not absolutely; nobody has suggested that elections will be canceled altogether or that, say, Mr. Obama will cling to office indefinitely.

In other words, there is no reason why the reigning Left cannot be thrown wholesale from office over the next two elections.  Massachusetts showed that the Left can be defeated even in its strongholds; 2010 will provide more proof.

The lesson of our Founders is that violent resistance to tyranny is appropriate but only after everything else has been tried.  There can never be legitimate recourse to violence while an open ballot box is available.

Yes, we fear for the future, but fears don't always come true.

We feared that ACORN would grow in power and its ability to steal elections would be extended; instead, thanks to the imagination and fortitude of James O'Keefe, ACORN is a bankrupt laughingstock.

We feared that untrammeled illegal immigration and amnesties would "pack the vote" with 30 million newly minted Democrats; it hasn't happened yet.

Until it does - until it is clear that sound government cannot be had peacefully via the ballot box - there is no legitimate justification for violence against our own government.  There's no need for the bullet box until after the ballot box has failed.

It's better that way anyway.  Since the 60s, the Left has proven that violence is its first recourse.  Anyone who went to elementary school knows it's always better to make sure the teacher saw that the other guy threw the first punch.