Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Signs of the Cultural Apocalypse

Behold Octo-Mom the Musical and weep, for we are a generation bereft of culture.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The End of the Left-Right Political Model?

We think we live in a left-right world, but I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore. If, as Nicholas Nassim Taleb says, we now live in Extremistan, then why do we not see our world as made up of “Extreministas” and “Moderationals”?

In the book “Gross National Happiness”, Arthur Brooks points out that self-described “extreme” conservatives and “extreme” liberals make up 10-20% of the population. Yet they are the ones that seem to be in control of the political process. Political primaries are dominated by the extremes. In 2004, for instance, 1.53 million people voted in Texas primaries (840,000 Republicans and 690,000 Democrats), but 7.4 million people voted in the general elections in the state. That means the primary turnout was just 20% the size of the general election. Yet the primaries are ultimately where “Moderationals” can make the most difference.

What’s wrong with Extreministas? There’s nothing inherently wrong with being passionate about your own beliefs, but the partisan rancor exhibited by both extremes actually makes us unhappy as a society, according to Brooks. Using “feeling thermometers”, political scientists can use public opinion polls to try and chart how we feel about our political opponents. Researchers use a “likeability” scale of 0-100, and ask respondents to rate both themselves and those they disagree with, with the higher score being better. According to Brooks, “in 2004, conservatives gave themselves a toasty average score of 81, but gave liberals a cool 39. Liberals gave themselves 75 but rated conservatives 38.” These are just your garden variety voters. The Extreministas on the left and the right give their ideological opposites scores that are less than 20. By comparison, in 2006 the country of Iran scored an average of 27. The people who make up the most involved portion of the electorate hate their fellow Americans more than they hate the leaders of a country that shout “Death to America” during parliamentary sessions. I don’t see how that fact can be a good thing for the political health of this country.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Now This Is What I'm Talking About

Great news from Michelle Malkin.

In Woonsocket, RI, Tea Party activists swarmed the City Council and stopped massive new supplemental tax hikes to bail out the public school district. The tax measure, which had been expected to pass 6-1, went down by a 4-3 vote (hat tip - Granite Grok):

It's like I said a few weeks ago:

Still, if 3,000 people can show up for a Tea Party rally in Greensburg, South Carolina, can 300 show up at Greensburg’s City Council Meeting? If 1500 people rally in St. Louis, can 150 of them sit in the council chambers for the same purpose? Have you watched a typical city council meeting lately? No one’s there, and those who are there are usually an odd mixture of the intense lone citizen, the interested businessman, perhaps a field trip or two, and those with specific business before the council. City councils usually don’t see large groups like the Tea Party Movement, and those large groups can have a big impact legislatively and in the media when they come together in the arena.

Nice job, Woonsocket.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Responsibility in the Age of Entitlement

I'm still (slowly) working on my piece about public virtue, but in the meantime I ran across this story and thought it was appropriate to the discussion of the Age of Responsibility.

Joseph Sabol is a 27-year old recent college graduate who's looking for work. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But Sabol's grabbing attention by hanging out at a busy intersection in Lancaster, PA with a sign that says "College grad looking for employment" on it. Sabol's actually received 17 different interview opportunities, but he's still out on the street. Why?

James Wenger, owner of Lancaster Nissan, said he called Sabol on Tuesday and asked him to come in for an interview. Wenger said he offered Sabol an interview for a sales position that within five years could earn as much as $100,000 annually with benefits.

Sabol turned Wenger down.

"For him to not even want to come out and do an interview was really disgusting," Wenger said. "We're supposed to feel sorry for you. Sometimes you don't get what you want and have to make sacrifices.

"So if he can't have the ideal job, ideal hours, ideal pay, then he'll just sit around and be a victim?"

Sabol said his dream job is marketing assistant for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he is looking to use his degree to go into any sports team marketing, and he is willing to relocate.

"I want my job to be the perfect fit for me," Sabol said. "I'm not going to just accept anything. I want a job to fit my career goals and dreams."

My first job out of college was the graveyard shift at K-Mart, working as a stockboy. On my days off I worked the graveyard shift as a cook at Hardee's. Fifteen years later (give or take), I'm no longer in retail. In fact, I've worked my way up to a close approximation of my dream job, but it's taken a lot of hard work and effort. I've had to push myself, and when I've felt like slacking I've been blessed to have family and friends that have pushed me. Unfortunately, Mr. Sabol doesn't have the same support system.

Sabol said he has the support of his wife and mother, who originally gave him the idea to take his plea to the streets. He said his mother is very proud of him and is hoping for the best.

His said his wife, Shani, finds it amusing to see pictures of him on the street corner.

"I will be at this as long as it takes. I want to start my career and fulfill my career endeavors," Sabol said. "I'm extremely optimistic.

"I just have to keep working hard, and good things will happen."

You're 27 years old, and you have no job. You aren't working hard, and your wife and mother are enabling you. You're 27 years old and you are still a child. Joey Sabol, you've got a lot of growing up to do.

The sad thing is, I don't think Sabol's really all that unusual, even if his method of getting his "dream job" is out of the ordinary. The children of helicopter parents are graduating college and should be entering the real world, but far too many of them have false expectations and entitlements. They don't work hard; in fact, I don't think they're capable of working hard in a job that is unsatisfying.

Before we can usher in the Age of Responsibility, we have to destroy the Age of Entitlement. Sabol's wife and mother could do their part by not encouraging such childish behavior from a 27-year old man. We can do our part by not encouraging similar childish behavior from our own family and friends. Having a dream is great, but dreams should never be more important than our waking lives. Dreams may or may not come true, but our life moves forward whether we like it or not. Keep living in dreamland, and you may soon find that real opportunity has passed you by.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why I'm Not Going

I was all set to go to the Washington Tea Party today. I even had my shirt picked out; a picture of Obama wearing a set of mouse ears. I was excited. I was ready. And then I saw a press release of the guest speakers.

First of all, who needs speakers? It's a protest, not a rally. I heard Rush Limbaugh say last week that he was too famous to go to a Tea Party protest, and he was right. Once famous people get involved, they inevitably become the focus of the event. Sadly, in the absence of real famous people, the organizers of the Tea Party protest decided to go with people who could be described as "famous to conservatives." That leads me to the second reason I will not be attending: Alan Keyes is speaking, and Alan Keyes doesn't speak for me.

I shouldn't single Keyes out, even though he's not who I want representing me in the eyes of the media. The truth of the matter is, I don't want Laura Ingraham representing me either, or Grover Norquist, no matter how much I may have in common with their political views. I thought the Tea Party was supposed be about us, which is what made it different. Rush Limbaugh understands this, which is why he wisely stayed away. It's an amazingly selfless act, and one that hasn't been much repeated by others in the conservative community. Why do we need anybody representing us? Isn't the point of all of this for the government to hear from We the People? If anybody is representing us on stage, it should be the local business owner who's going to have to cut jobs because of tax increases, or the police officer who sees good colleagues leaving because of budget shortfalls, shortfalls that aren't relieved by stimulus money. For God's sakes, if people have to speak, let them be people, not pundits.

The Tea Party movement didn't need this, the sad parade of B-list conservative celebrities all too eager to attach their name to the cause. The movement did start organically, even if it was soon co-opted by a political machine that politicizes and makes partisan even the most important of issues. Once that issue becomes just another "conservative" thing, all hope of real victory is lost. It is just something else that conservatives will be mocked for, because that is what we do to our political opponents these days. I imagine there'll be a lot of mocking of our opponents at the Washington Tea Party today, because both sides are equally guilty of the practice.

And yet, the organizers of the D.C. Tea Party invited these pundits to assume leadership, or at least prominence, in the movement. By doing so, I can't help but feel like they've killed something very important. I don't know why they felt it was so important to have partisans play such a large role in today's events. Maybe they simply thought it was a good idea. If so, they were wrong.

If this were a liberal rally, it wouldn't be Alan Keyes speaking, it would be Dennis Kucinich. It wouldn't be Laura Ingraham, it would be Rachel Maddow. And conservatives would mock the bejeezus out of it for being a political Woodstock for the lunatic fringe.

I can't begin to tell you how disappointed I am, because I wanted for this to work so badly. The post that started this blog was probably a little too rah-rah in retrospect. Perhaps I'm guilty of idealistically thinking that something "of the people" could remain "of the people" in this day and age. Perhaps I'm incurable, because I'm still looking for ways to turn this around.

There is one thing I've come up with. The organizers of the Tea Party have scheduled the next event for July 4th. Let all Americans, of every political stripe, feel welcome with others who share their concern and disgust over the prospect of continued government bailouts. Leave the polarizing figures behind. You don't need them for this. There's a lot at stake here, and we can't afford to screw it up.

At the end of my first post, I quoted from Joseph Warren's speech commemorating the Boston Massacre in 1775, just a few weeks before the first shots were fired on Lexington Green. I'll repeat them here, because now more than ever, he speaks to us.

On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.

Can There Be An Age Of Responsibility?

I recently read Matthew Continetti's well done article on the Age of Irresponsibility and the need for a new cultural maturity. Continetti does a fantastic job of laying out the damage that our current irresponsibility is causing, and why we need to change. What is left unclear, however, is how to make those cultural changes.

Is an Age of Responsibility even possible? Continetti provides us with no clear example of a past culture or society that has acheived this golden age, choosing instead to focus on individual failures of our political, moral, and cultural leaders (President Bill Clinton and heiress/whore Paris Hilton get a lot of deserved atttention). Contrasting those negative cultural influences, Continetti again offers not a society, but individual examples of how we ought to be: General David Petraeus and Captain Sully Sullenberger.

It is interesting to note that both of these examples are men with earned titles to their name, already placing them apart from the population at large, just like the celebrities and political leaders Continetti cites as negative influences on our culture. But in America, anyone can be president, or a movie star, or a slutty heiress. It takes training, skill, and leadership to become a general, and hundreds of hours of training to become a pilot of commercial aircraft. Petreaus and Sullenberger, therefore, may be held up as ideal role models, but their skillsets place them apart from us in a way that typical celebrity-hood or fame does not.

It also seems a little odd to me that an heiress can damage society merely be showing off her hoo-hoo, while in order to save society we have to win a war or land a crashing airplane. It seems like the negative and positive role models Continetti refers to are more than a bit off balance. Do our positive role models really always need to engage in life-saving or world-changing events to have an impact on society and culture?

More importantly, do we even need role models? Does not being responsible require us to "put away childish things"? Mitty-esque fantasizing and fascination with the famous has cheapened and made juvenile the American Dream (as discussed in David Kamp's Rethinking the American Dream). A responsible adult doesn't take their moral cues from their President, a movie star, or an airline pilot. Responsible adults don't require role models, they are role models. Mature, responsible, reasoning, and rational adults don't require a certain number of role models in society before they begin following their example. They are the example.

This is where the idea of a Responsible Age runs headlong into the reality that we are a generation with few compelling reasons to be responsible, thanks to (among other things) technological innovation, the American ideal of industry, government bureaucracy, and a cultural tolerance of selfishness that would make most of our ancestors turn away from us in embarrassment. These factors (and note that there are most certainly benefits to these factors as well) affect us in a thousand different ways: I don't need to remember when our best friend's birthday is; that's what my Blackberry is for! I don't need to make sure that the poor in our community have food on their table, that's one reason I pay taxes. I'd love to stay at home with my kids, but we both have to work to make it. I don't want to stay at home with my kids when I have such a promising career. She's 2,000 miles away... she'll never know about what happens tonight.

We keep saying that we need to change, we keep explaining why we need to change, but to date I haven't seen anyone articulate how we're supposed to change society. I wonder if it's because it may be impossible to do so.

We may truly be moving towards a new Dark Age, where instruction and knowledge has become so specified that little common ground can be found. Instead, we fractiously debate (and increasingly just yell) over every debatable social, cultural, and scientific trend. There is no right or wrong, just different ideas. Cultural consensus means that you have 51% of the voters on your side, which is a far different definition than we have had throughout most of human history. At the same time, our genuine knowledge has become so specialized that many Americans are arguing passionately about issues that they know very little about. As society becomes less knowledgeable, our concept of knowledge is changing. Someone with what was considered cursory knowledge of an issue 100 years ago would be seen today as a lay expert on the subject. Just look at how many pundits on our cable news shows are expected to opine about all kinds of subject matter, even if they aren't too familiar with the topic at hand. Ignorance and expertise are no longer mutually exclusive states of mind, at least on our broadcasts.

Responsibility and maturity may not be the exact same thing, but as a friend of mine says, they're in the same zip code. Maturity comes in part through experience, but in our modern age we don't often rely on the experience of past generations. In fact, most of us feel that the past doesn't really matter much these days. As Diane Ravitch says:

We can't have thoughtful public discussions of issues when the public is so woefully uninformed about the past. We have allowed our culture to be seduced, ensnared, and dumbed down by a vacuous popular culture. If we gave tests that asked about rock stars and movies, our students and the general public would get high grades. We can be certain that the public knows more about Paris Hilton than George Washington.

Without a public that knows its history, without political intelligence widely dispersed, we can anticipate a future in which our politics is continually degraded to the lowest common denominator.

Our lack of historical knowledge helps to keep us irresponsible, because our ignorance acts like a pair of blinders, narrowing our focus towards the unknowable future while paying no mind to the (somewhat) knowable past.

This, of course, is just one aspect of our irresponsibility. Another aspect is the fact that our cultural spirituality is dying. It doesn't take a Christian to be a good person, and sitting in a pew on Sunday mornings won't automatically make someone responsible, but Christianity is better than no spiritual or moral code at all, isn't it? This Gallup Poll certainly suggests that regular church attendance has some bearing or relationship to how one feels about various social issues.

Can "virtuous" be used interchangeably with the word "responsible"? I believe our founders certainly thought so. Public virtue was seen as necessary for the future of the Republic, and men as disparate in their views as Benjamin Franklin ("Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.") and John Adams ("Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.") believed that the United States needed virtuous citizens, who in turn would become or elect virtuous leaders.

In my next entry, I'll take a closer look at the philosophical foundations of public virtue, and whether or not our society can reasonably be called virtuous in nature.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Vico and the Descending Age of Heroes

I was reading about the political philosopher Vico earlier tonight. He had a fascinating theory about the ages of civilization; namely that we have three ages: The Divine (in which authority is derived from God), the Age of Heroes (in which the living embodiment of idealized figures have the authority), and the Age of Man (in which the citizens as a whole possess authority). You don't cycle through these stages, but instead societies rise and fall. Really, instead of the three stages that are commonly referred to, there are six: The Divine Age*, Divine Ascending, Heroes** Ascending, The Age of Man Ascending, The Age of Man Descending, and Heroes Descending.

I'm reasonably sure we're in the Age of Heroes (and obviously there are cultural remnants left from previous cycles, so you'll find evidence of the Ages of Man and the Age of Divine throughout our culture). Moreover, I'm fairly sure we're descending into the Age of Heroes, if we're not already there.

Anyway, if you want to read the passage I'm talking about, here it is.

This New Science or metaphysic, studying the common nature of nations in the light of divine providence, discovers the origins of divine and human institutions among the gentile nations, and thereby establishes a system of he natural law of the gentes, which proceeds with the greatest equality and constancy through the three ages which the Egyptians handed down to us as the three periods through which the world has passed up to their time. These are (1) The age of the gods, in which the gentiles believed they lived under divine governments, and everything was commanded them by auspices and oracles, which are the oldest institutions in profane history. (2) The age of the heroes, in which they reigned everywhere in aristocratic commonwealths, on account of a certain superiority of nature which they held themselves to have over the plebs. (3) The age of men, in which all men recognized themselves as equal in human nature, and therefore there were established first the popular commonwealths and then the monarchies, both of which are forms of human government.

Here are some of my questions, and I'd love to read your theories, because I have no idea what the answers are: how long do these ages last? Can technology shorten the lifespan of an age? Can technology prolongue it? What happens when competing cultures operating at different points on the wave collide? Our enemies, the Islamofascists, are clearly living in the Divine Age, doing what God (in the form of their mullahs and clerics) tells them to do. Are we in the Age of Heroes, or are we in the Age of Man?

I think the rise of democratic societies really started about 233 years ago (okay, to be honest, you could go back to the late 1600's in Europe), and was clearly ascending up until radio, television, and movies came along. Politicians are not "of the people" anymore. They are meant to be (though they generally fail to be)idealized representatives of the people. Look at the cult of the celebrity that has grown (and exploded with the growth of television channels and, more recently, websites) in our society. My vote, no matter how depressing it may be, is that we're in an Age of Descending Heroes. I know that we still exist in the framework of the Age of Man, but I'm not so sure that Authority lies there anymore.
Where do you think we are?

*Divine doesn't necessarily mean that the society is more pious or "good". It merely means that the authority in society is either held in god-like status or gets its authority through Divine dispensation.

**Heroes doesn't necessarily mean that society is full of doers of good deeds. Instead, it means that the larger than life characters who become known throughout society are granted authority, explicit or implicit, in crafting laws or shaping social mores.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Post-Christian America

In a nation where 76% of us describe ourselves as Christian, it might seem a little ridiculous to call us a "Post-Christian nation". Still, there's no doubt that we're becoming less religious as a nation and a culture. Jon Meacham, author of American Gospel, has a new piece in Newsweek in which he says this is a good thing. Specifically, Meacham says:

While we remain a nation decisively shaped by religious faith, our politics and our culture are, in the main, less influenced by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were even five years ago. I think this is a good thing—good for our political culture, which, as the American Founders saw, is complex and charged enough without attempting to compel or coerce religious belief or observance. It is good for Christianity, too, in that many Christians are rediscovering the virtues of a separation of church and state that protects what Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious dissenters, called "the garden of the church" from "the wilderness of the world."

In that Newsweek article, R. Albert Mohler Jr. defines Post-Christianity as "spirituality, however defined, without binding authority". It's spiritual anarchy.

Since the Reformation, we've had a constant chorus of voices singing the praises of new sects (and in a few cases, religions). Typically though, those sects found common physical as well as spiritual ground. Look at the American colonies for example. Massachusetts was home to the Puritans. Pennsylvania was home to the Quakers. Most of the southern colonies were Anglican, at least until the Great Awakening in the mid-18th Century. Even Rhode Island, beacon of religious liberty to Meacham, had plenty of "blue laws" less than a century after its founding in 1636. Rhode Island is actually a perfect example of differing sects embracing the idea of "toleration", while continuing to try and seek common ground when possible.

Back then, you also had the influence of Deism on virtually all Christian denominations. Deism, despite what modern pundits would have you believe, is not akin to agnosticism or atheism. Deism still puts God at the top of the pyramid, scripture is still worth reading, but Truth can also be found outside of the Bible. Contrast that with the Me-ism that is gaining ground today, and Deism starts to look as fundamental as an Assemblies of God congregation.

We've given up on the Bible as a source of Truth, and we've also decided to ignore the vast collection of wisdom acquired through the centuries by secular scholars and philosophers. Instead, we tell ourselves that all is a matter of perspective, that there is no Truth to be found (or, if there is Truth to be found, we already possess that knowledge somewhere inside of us). The result is that too many of us are spiritually adrift, floating aimlessly through life without ever really seeking Truth.

Finally, by becoming Post-Christian, we are also in danger culturally of being Post-Western Civilization. Christianity, in all its incarnations, is woven throughout the intellectual fabric of our shared history. It did not influence Plato and Cicero, but philosophers like Grotius (the father of international law) were influenced by secular minds like Aristotle as well as religious minds like St. Augustine. You cannot separate Christianity from the rest of history, and when Christianity is seen to taint all it touches, we throw a lot of valuable knowledge away.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The American Resolves

Piggybacking off of Will Collier's post about a Tea Party Manifesto... I just wanted to put down some thoughts I've been having lately. I won't pretend that these are ideas in finished form, but more of a germ of an idea.
By now, tens of thousands of Americans have taken part in a Tea Party Protest, but it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference. I suppose if the numbers grow extraordinarily large we might still see more than a handful of politicians showing the slightest bit of interest, but in the meantime should we be content to wait for our numbers to grow loud enough for the legislators to hear? Why aren’t we putting our existing numbers to better use?

In December of 1773, the Boston Tea Party took place following a town meeting, roughly the equivalent to our city council meetings. The idea of using local governments to send a message to their more distant counterparts isn’t unheard of today, although in recent years it seems to be infrequent at best and usually anti-war in nature (yes Berkeley, I’m talking to you). Still, if 3,000 people can show up for a Tea Party rally in Greensburg, South Carolina, can 300 show up at Greensburg’s City Council Meeting? If 1500 people rally in St. Louis, can 150 of them sit in the council chambers for the same purpose? Have you watched a typical city council meeting lately? No one’s there, and those who are there are usually an odd mixture of the intense lone citizen, the interested businessman, perhaps a field trip or two, and those with specific business before the council. City councils usually don’t see large groups like the Tea Party Movement, and those large groups can have a big impact legislatively and in the media when they come together in the arena.

Simply showing up isn’t enough, of course. You have to say something as well. Considering the grassroots support for the ideals of the Tea Party, it isn’t hard to imagine hundreds, if not thousands, of towns (most of them admittedly small) across the country that could approve resolves that condemn the stimulus in practice and/or in theory. This idea, like the Tea Party Movement, has a loose basis in history.

In September of 1774 the leaders of government in Suffolk County, Massachusetts (where Boston was located) passed a series of resolves against Parliament. They were incendiary, far more than the resolves below, but the men who drafted them faced a far different situation than we do. By September of 1774 the bonds of union were already strained to the breaking point, and military action was seen by both sides as not just likely, but certain. There is simply no comparison to our current situation, and we should thank God that is the case.

The Suffolk Resolves also weren’t just directed at Parliament. They were directed towards the people of Massachusetts, and to those of other colonies as well. They demanded that the people in America stand up for themselves or be tainted as cowards and fools for generations to come: If a boundless extent of continent, swarming with millions, will tamely submit to live, move and have their being at the arbitrary will of a licentious minister, they basely yield to voluntary slavery, and future generations shall load their memories with incessant execrations. It wasn’t unusual for our forefathers to think of us. They were far more likely than we are to not just “think of the children”, but of their children’s children as well. We, on the other hand, seem pre-occupied with our present, and the future is left largely unconsidered. In the resolves below, I have included reference to our posterity, for the simple reason that our forefathers were right and we are wrong.

I've also largely kept the 18th Century prose intact, though I realize it would certainly have to be updated for our own 21st Century minds. For the purposes of thought and discussion, however, I wanted the language to remind is of our shared history. Our language is much more functional than pretty these days, but there is genuine beauty to be found in the language of the Suffolk Resolves. They are such eloquent defenses of liberty and emancipation (including the phrase "voluntary slavery" that hearkens back to La Boetie) that it seems a shame for them to be relegated to the scholars and academics instead of remaining the intellectual property and heritage of the American people.


Whereas the power but not the justice, the benevolence but not the wisdom of our representatives, now pursues us, their guiltless children, with unrelenting severity: And whereas, this, then savage and uncultivated desert, was purchased by the toil and treasure, or acquired by the blood and valor of those our venerable progenitors; to us they bequeathed the dearbought inheritance, to our care and protection they consigned it, and the most sacred obligations are upon us to transmit the glorious purchase, unfettered by power, unclogged with shackles, to our innocent and beloved offspring. On the fortitude, on the wisdom and on the exertions of this important day, is suspended the fate of this beacon of freedom, and of unborn millions. If a boundless extent of continent, swarming with millions, will tamely submit to live, move and have their being at the arbitrary will of licentious ministers, they basely yield to voluntary slavery, and future generations shall load their memories with incessant execrations.--On the other hand, if we arrest the hand which would ransack our pockets, if we disarm the parricide which points the dagger to our bosoms, if we nobly defeat that fatal edict which proclaims a power to frame laws for us in all cases whatsoever, thereby entailing the endless and numberless curses of slavery upon us, our heirs and their heirs forever; if we successfully resist that unparalleled usurpation of unconstitutional power, whereby our capital is robbed of the means of life; whereby the laws of our Constitution, that sacred barrier against the encroachments of tyranny, is mutilated and, in effect, annihilated; whereby laws are framed to shelter villains from the hands of justice; whereby the unalienable and inestimable inheritance, which we derived from nature, the constitution of the United States, and the privileges warranted to us in the constitution of our state, is in grave danger of total wreckage, annulment, and vacancy, posterity will acknowledge that virtue which preserved them free and happy; and while we enjoy the rewards and blessings of the faithful, the torrent of panegyrists will roll our reputations to that latest period, when the streams of time shall be absorbed in the abyss of eternity.--Therefore, we have resolved, and do resolve,

1. That whereas the President, Barack Obama, is the lawful president of the United States of America, and justly entitled to the allegiance of all Americans, therefore, we, the heirs and successors of the first founders of this country, do cheerfully acknowledge the said President to be our rightful executive, and that said covenant is the tenure and claim on which are founded our allegiance and support.

2. That it is an indispensable duty which we owe to God, our country, ourselves and posterity, by all lawful ways and means in our power to maintain, defend and preserve those civil and religious rights and liberties, for which many of our fathers fought, bled and died, and to hand them down entire to future generations.

3. That the late acts of the U.S. Congress, and of the executive branch, for signing off on more than one trillion dollars worth of debt that will the burden of those future generations of taxpayers who could not give their consent, for expanding the established role of government in this country, and for spending taxpayer dollars without having read the legislation that legitimized the expenditures, are gross infractions of those rights to which we and our posterity are justly entitled by the laws of nature and the U.S.constitution.

4. That, having gathered informally to express our opposition to these current practices, we, the residents of (name of town here) do hereby ask Congress and the executive branch to listen to the true voices of government, We the People, in our request.

5. That in an attempt to stop the damage already caused to the American ideals of emancipation and self-determination, Congress rejects any new legislation that would require vast infusions of taxpayer money in an attempt to “stimulate” the economy.

6. Finally, that Congress immediately pass legislation that would require stimulus money rejected by recipients to be refunded to taxpayers, instead of continuing to be appropriated for spending by the government.