Sunday, June 3, 2012

To the Founders, some idealists, others more pragmatic, but revolutionaries all, who believed that a more perfect union was possible. And to all patriots who struggle to make their dream a reality.


If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

—Abraham Lincoln, quoting Mark’s gospel
I am afraid for my country. America has weathered disasters before, but today, the confluence of national and international crises has created a perfect storm of fear and unrest. Financial devastation, social and cultural upheaval, a decade of war, homegrown terrorism, environmental disruption—the range, magnitude, and complexity of these problems is unprecedented. The tangible impact on our lives is enormous, but so is the toll on our national psyche.
For generations, the American Dream has been within reach for most citizens. Not everyone would grab the brass ring, but we all had a shot. With hard work, perseverance, and just a bit of luck, most people could join the middle class, buy a home, educate their kids, and expect a modicum of security as they aged. That promise has been fading for quite some time, but as a nation, we are wonderfully, stubbornly optimistic and have kept the faith. Suddenly, it vanished, and millions of people want to know why. Why, through no fault of their own, are they out on the street or out of a job while U.S. corporate profits reach their highest levels since 1988? Why are their kids failing in school? Why is the nation drowning in debt? Who is to blame and what must be done? Today, Americans view the future with trepidation, not anticipation. People want explanations, and they want solutions—now. But beware: Fearful times can produce fearsome responses.
In moments of crisis, people act in predictable ways. We gather with people we trust; with those who share our beliefs. External threats unify the American tribe as we rally together beneath our flag, but internal threats tend to weaken this bond. Then, we seek out “our kind” and define “the enemy” as other Americans who don’t fit within our chosen circle. Depending on the crisis, this can exacerbate religious, racial, social, and political differences and strain the very fabric of our nation.
Any student of history, not to mention most news pundits and politicians, knows how to capitalize on these tendencies. Divide and conquer is an ancient and effective tactic, and fear of the “others,” domestic or foreign, will always provoke a worried population. Political candidates routinely trumpet or exaggerate threats from the opposition to rally constituents, win elections, and grab or consolidate power. This convenient short-term strategy can spiral out of control, providing legitimacy for a host of radical positions and the people who advocate them. Suddenly, what was fringe is deemed mainstream. History demonstrates that if people are fearful enough, civil liberties and the rule of law, even a constitutional government, can be coaxed from a gullible and frightened electorate without firing a shot.
We are facing such a moment. The tiny birther movement that first questioned President Obama’s citizenship in 2008 was encouraged by Republican leaders with a wink and a nod. By early 2011, former Republican governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee was delivering as fact a fabricated tale of Obama’s Kenyan upbringing, Mau Mau philosophy, Muslim religion, and anti-American intentions. Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said Obama’s political views could be understood “only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior.” He declared that the president’s administration heads up a “secular-socialist machine” that represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Essentially, these and other so-called mainstream conservative figures are saying that we have a Manchurian candidate in the White House who, along with his party and political supporters, is plotting to destroy the country. They equivocate when pressed, but the message is clear: “Real Americans” must stop this subversive takeover by any means necessary.
Nevada senatorial candidate Sharon Angle suggested that if conservatives lost at the ballot box in 2010, second-amendment remedies might be needed to save the country. Congresswoman and current presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said she wanted her constituents “armed and dangerous” during the 2009 fight over an energy tax, and has called for national hearings to investigate the patriotism of her Democrat colleagues. In January 2011, Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords was stalked and seriously wounded by a gunman while attending a local gathering with her constituents. Six people died in the hail of bullets and eighteen were injured. The entire nation was horrified. Any suggestion that violent rhetoric could inspire such an event was denounced as an attempt to capitalize on the tragedy. Clearly, the shooter was deranged. Case closed.
Or is it? The Huckabee and Gingrich comments I mentioned came after the shooting. With the 2012 election season under way, I expect to hear more of this dangerous talk. If candidates tell their followers that opponents are not only wrong on policy, but an actual threat to our national survival, that they created our economic troubles intentionally to destroy the free markets and enslave the American worker, that Christianity is under attack and Sharia law is coming to our courts, what should a real patriot do?
Republicans in the Wisconsin statehouse didn’t need guns to overthrow our political system. Deciding that their majority status trumped legislative rules, in 2011, they voted to eliminate collective bargaining in that state without a quorum present. So what if the Democrats weren’t even in the building? Then, they authorized the new GOP governor, Scott Walker, to disband local elected governments and appoint a private overseer to manage cities and towns if he alone deemed it an economic necessity. These are the actions of a dictator and puppet government, not those of elected officials in a constitutional republic.
As I watch the political battles escalate, I am reminded of an old Gahan Wilson cartoon. An infantryman stands alone in a barren, smoldering landscape. Absolutely nothing is left alive. The punch line: “I think I won!”
“I think I won!”
Convinced that the mission is just and true, many hard-liners do not understand that their vision, if realized, would destroy what they claim to defend. This land would remain, and the victors could lay claim to it, but its heart and soul, the greatness that is America, would be gone.
There is a real battle to be joined in this country, just not the one so many are waging. When rhetoric and ideological warfare threaten the very pillars of our democracy, true patriots must act. They must do so armed with facts, not myths, and with a real understanding of the extraordinary but fragile system our Founders established.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “What sort of government have we?” He replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” It is time we rally in its defense.


What Sort of Government Have We?
Americans love our country deeply, and when told we’re losing it, nothing can stop us from fighting. But there seems to be a lot of confusion these days about the mission. What exactly did the Founders establish? What is now at risk, and what must be done to preserve the Republic?
Our Founders created a constitutional government that would protect and promote a free and diverse society. This secular system was based on the emerging political philosophy known as “classical liberalism,” which advocated individual liberty, private property, and representative democracy. This philosophy was shared by the American revolutionaries, conservatives and liberals alike. During the drafting and debates, vigorous attempts were made to skew the Constitution left or right, but they were defeated. Those who argue otherwise are misleading you intentionally or are ignorant of historical facts.
In 1789, when these men gathered in Philadelphia to draft the Constitution, two groups fought vigorously to dominate the convention. Conservatives wanted another England. Alexander Hamilton argued for a monarch and a House of Lords. They believed in a strong central government ruled by the elite. The liberals feared control by an American aristocracy. They were quite radical in their struggle to limit such power. Benjamin Franklin wanted a single House of Representatives with members elected every year and argued against the presidency, preferring an executive council. The conservatives sought economic growth and civil order. The liberals wanted individual liberty and real assurance that average citizens would have a strong voice in the nation’s affairs. Each side believed passionately in the righteousness of its position and greatly mistrusted the opposition.
The Constitution that emerged from this convention became known as James Madison’s Grand Compromise, a triumph of visionary wisdom over partisan self-interest. Neither the conservatives nor the liberals gave up their beliefs about the best way to lead the nation. What they abandoned was the chance to rig the game, and in return, they accepted a neutral playing field and the chance to compete fairly in the marketplace of ideas. Their political theories would be tested in the public arena and would face a referendum at the ballot box every two, four, or six years. Win or lose, power would transfer peacefully, and the work of governing would continue. If unhappy with the results, citizens could change course in the next election.
To call this system neutral is not quite accurate: Actually, it promoted competition by design. Knowing the dangers of direct democracy and how quickly an impassioned majority can impose its will, both conservatives and liberals wanted a representative democracy. But even an elected majority would be constrained by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents create multiple checks and balances across three branches of government, including presidential vetoes, congressional overrides, a complex amendment process, and independent judicial review, all designed to temper power and ensure that minority voices would be heard. Interestingly, the wealthy conservatives were adamant about this. Already outnumbered, they feared that Thomas Jefferson’s common man, the general population, might seek to suppress their interests.
On the day our Constitution was adopted, Franklin addressed the Convention, saying, “If every one of us in returning to our constituents were to report the objections he has had to it… we might prevent its being generally received and thereby lose all.”1 But the Framers realized that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, and their crowning achievement was to make a vigorous democratic process, not partisan ideology, our constitutional mandate.
Our first political parties emerged before the ink was dry on this noble document, and the race was on to reframe its mandate and institutionalize partisan advantage. That our system survives, relatively intact, is a testament to the power of our democratic ideals and the willingness of the American people, generation after generation, to defend them above special interests and partisan beliefs. Without the push-pull of ideas between liberals and conservatives, our nation would be a very different place, one I suggest neither side would like. Unchecked conservatism becomes authoritarian and tyrannical, allowing a small group of the powerful elite to govern with few checks on their actions. Extreme liberalism moves toward socialism, even communism, and delivers control to a different group, government bureaucrats, but still arrives at the same place—tyranny. Pure liberty leads to anarchy, and guess what that vacuum invites? Might makes right, and that equals tyranny.
Political parties attract like minds, and from their earliest moments, our conservative and liberal factions have exhibited rather consistent personalities. My point about the need for balance is made clear if you imagine what happens if a somewhat controlling, authoritarian father has no counterbalance in the mother. He may help a scattered family focus on specific goals but fail to see the drawbacks to his single-mindedness. He will act quickly when threatened, but he can go off half-cocked, refusing to take much-needed advice. Confident that his views are the right ones, he doesn’t tolerate debate or dissent, preferring that his wards march to a single tune. To him, securing the family is more important than promoting the community’s welfare, so in troubled times, he will grab up resources, leaving others to fend for themselves. The mother seeks to balance interests. She cannot be narrowly focused, as the long-term well-being of the family is her goal. She wants each member to be happy and tolerates their unique choices, loving them no matter what. She sees that a healthy community makes her own kids safer when they venture out, so she expands her mission beyond the family circle. But at times, she might listen too long to competing voices and try too hard to make everyone happy. Important missions might be neglected as she tolerates too much input or chaotic behavior. This is, of course, a gross simplification, but at their core, conservatives seek order and liberals pursue freedom. Maintaining a balance produces the healthiest, most productive results over the long run.
Conservative icon Friedrich A. von Hayek was lauded by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher as one of the intellectuals most responsible for their own political philosophies. His most recognized work is likely The Road to Serfdom. One article they may have missed is entitled Why I Am Not a Conservative. In it, he discusses how political philosophy and personality coincide and the dangers this presents to a real democracy.
Hayek could not come up with a name for his own political philosophy. Writing in 1960 and knowing that the terms “liberal” and “progressive” had been hijacked from their classical meaning, he wasn’t sure what to call himself. But he adamantly rejected the conservative label for several reasons. His observations, objections, and descriptions of what he believed were true American principles are right on target today.
Hayek applauded the Founders’ “courage and confidence, [their] preparedness to let change run its course even if we cannot predict where it will lead.” Our first political leaders were progressives in the true sense of the word—designing a future, not clinging to the past. He was frustrated that modern conservatives defend an imaginary status quo despite the inevitability of change. He objected to their tendency to put the brakes on progress without offering a different course. “The tug of war between conservatives and progressives can only affect the speed, not the direction, of contemporary developments. The critical question for any American is not how fast or how far we should move, but where we should move, for move we will.”
Hayek noted similarities between modern conservatives and socialists (not liberals): Both groups are content to expand government as long as they are in control. “The conservative does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes. He believes that if government is in the hands of decent men, it ought not to be too much restricted by rigid rules… he is less concerned with the problem of how the powers of government should be limited than with that of who wields them… like the socialist, he regards himself as entitled to force the values he holds on other people.”
While possessed of strong moral principles, he found that many conservatives do not hold strong democratic convictions. Our system requires healthy debate, willingness to work with political opponents, and respect for our system of government even when that system thwarts certain conservative objectives. Every American should defend theses principles above partisan advantage.
These comments by Hayek were not addressing policy issues—what sort of taxes or regulations we should have or whether an international crisis calls for military intervention. Instead, he was talking about the tendency of conservatives to challenge or ignore our most fundamental constitutional principles when they block certain goals or permit outcomes the group opposes.
Hayek said, “I believe that the conservatives deceive themselves when they blame the evils of our time on democracy. The chief evil is unlimited government, and nobody is qualified to wield unlimited power.” That power could reside in an overreaching bureaucracy, or, even worse, might be handed to a single president by congressional decree. Hayek concluded that “it is not who governs but what government is entitled to do that seems to me the essential problem.”
He did not address the pros or cons of American liberals; but notably, socialists were his counterpoint to conservatives—the progressives were somewhere in the middle. His criticisms were targeted, but the observations create an essential checklist for a healthy democracy.
In recent years, the partisan attack on our system of government has been relentless. After 9/11, the Bush administration took actions that far exceeded executive authority, building what is now known as a “unitary presidency.” Throughout Bush’s tenure, the Republican-led Congress and Department of Justice served as a rubber stamp, willingly abdicating their power to the executive branch as Americans were spied on, civil and legal rights were curtailed, and martial law was expanded, to list just a few of the questionable, even unconstitutional measures of that time.
There is nothing patriotic about granting such powers to leaders simply because we agree with their positions. There is nothing American about abusing the rule of law or ignoring the Constitution when “our side” is in control. Just as FDR’s Democratic Congress would not let him pack the Supreme Court, and the Republican Party led the push for Nixon’s resignation, true patriots will oppose actions by either party that seek to thwart the democratic process or secure power that exceeds constitutional authority.
Today, many conservatives claim that President Obama is overreaching on health care or stimulus spending, while liberals say the same about his use of military and security powers. If these claims are true, both sides should look in the mirror for the real culprits. Congress cannot claim surprise when succeeding administrations use the power it gave up when it was politically expedient to do so.
International threats and tough economic times always increase social tensions, and the call to restrict freedoms is a predictable response. The battle is twofold; the curtailing of our liberty in the name of security is one concern, but so is the targeting of particular groups within our population. Virtually every ethnic and racial group—the French, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, African Americans and others—has been demonized at some point in our history. Most of us would laugh at the notion that a Catholic president might turn over our government to the pope, yet this was a serious concern when John F. Kennedy campaigned in 1960. Today, Hispanics and Muslims are in the crosshairs.
A dramatic shift in our demographics is underway, with Hispanics on target to become a majority in the United States by 2050, and illegal immigration is a major economic and security issue. Since 9/11, global terrorism has dominated our foreign policy, and now, incidents have sparked concern over the rise of homegrown terrorists inspired by Islamic fundamentalists. These issues should be at the top of our political agenda, but the manner in which they are being addressed is of great concern.
Many politicians play on our fear and anger to score points with their base, while certain commentators do it for ratings, promoting draconian measures and severe crackdowns to demonstrate they are tough on these problems. The prospect of gutting our constitutional protections does not disturb them. Nor is truth an obstacle, as they weave fantastic renderings of our history and produce data from thin air to justify their positions.
A fair number of Republicans now believe that President Obama is a Muslim (he is not), and conservative state legislatures across the country are scrambling to stop an imagined spread of Sharia law. In March 2011, Republican Congressman Peter King launched hearings to investigate the nation’s entire Muslim American community based on its Islamic faith, rejecting efforts to limit his inquiry to radical elements that might actually threaten our security.
Glenn Beck told his Fox News viewers that radical fundamentalists were behind the democratic uprisings in the Middle East and then made extraordinary leaps to tie terrorists to the American left, claiming that our unions are in cahoots with Egyptian radicals. On air, Beck professes to be a student of history and politics as he manufactures evidence to justify outrageous theories and proposals. Yet when interviewed in Forbes magazine in April 2010, Beck was surprisingly candid, saying, “I could give a flying crap about the political process. We’re an entertainment company.” Sadly, many followers, including some Republican officeholders, recite his imaginings as truth. Meanwhile, Beck is laughing all the way to the bank.
It has taken several years for thoughtful conservatives to realize just how destructive a small group of reactionary pundits and politicians can be to their party. It’s the old adage about riding the tiger—sooner or later, you’re going to get eaten. By the spring of 2011, George Will and other respected voices on the right began challenging the credentials of people like Beck, Michele Bachmann, and Sarah Palin as they realized the damage these people were doing to true conservatism and to our constitutional system of government.
I am all for those who challenge entrenched interests on their own side of the aisle while vigorously debating the political opposition. Both political parties are failing the American people and need strong members to shake things up. I do not agree with some of Congressman Ron Paul’s positions, but he uses intelligent, reasoned arguments to defend even unconventional proposals. He has no problem taking on his Republican leaders or challenging entrenched interests that ignore the needs of the American people. His is an important voice in our political debate. But when mavericks choose the easy path—divisive rhetoric, historical falsehoods, and unconstitutional remedies—then they should be marginalized, along with their theories.
In these incendiary times, we should all remember our history. John Adams’s Alien and Sedition Acts, FDR’s internment of Japanese Americans, and Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunt from Hollywood to the halls of Congress are just a few of the moments that Americans now view with shame. An attack on our pluralistic democracy and constitutional government for short-term political gain is unworthy of any real patriot.
In many nations, elections are revolutionary moments. Heads roll, governments topple, and wars break out. In the United States, we celebrate our peaceful transitions. The Founders believed that free people could debate their differences, cast their ballots, and then work together for the good of the nation. The losing side may despise the victors, but if the rules have been followed, true patriots defend this outcome even as they disagree about policy or philosophy. An attack on the legitimacy of the winners is an attack on democracy itself.
In 2009, before he got into a nasty primary campaign for his Arizona Senate seat, John McCain said wisely, “Elections have consequences.” This was the reason that Al Gore conceded the election in 2000 despite pleas for him to continue the recount fight. He thought it better for the nation to rally behind George Bush, a man whose philosophy he fiercely opposed, than to risk undercutting the government’s legitimacy. This was the same reason that in April 2010, Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma challenged a rowdy home crowd to stop demonizing the Democrats. To catcalls, he said his opponents were good people and challenged his own party to win on the issues, not through personal attacks on the opposition. To label a large portion of the nation and their representatives “un-American” as a campaign strategy is as unpatriotic as it gets.
In this country, we defend the right of citizens to hold opposing views and accept that our favored positions will not always win out. Our elected officials must be willing to share power and govern with people who see things very differently. This is not a matter of civility; it is a democratic mandate. Look at Iraq. People voted, officials took office, but then they refused to engage. To date, their government is a democracy in name only. Here at home, too many politicians proclaim “my way or the highway” and wear obstruction like a badge of honor; reaching across the aisle can earn them a primary opponent. I am not suggesting wholesale compromise for the sake of comity, but without meaningful debate and bipartisan cooperation, the system dies. True patriots should denounce such conduct, not applaud it.
Finally, both parties are willfully ignoring the greatest threat to our democratic process, further exacerbated by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a ruling that legitimizes the corporate takeover of American political campaigns. In private, our leaders know how corrupting big money is, but they refuse to reform our campaign finance laws for fear of losing influence and advantage. The same is true of our congressional redistricting laws. What should be nonpartisan is instead a battle between the parties to rig elections in their favor. All Americans must realize that these issues are critical to the health of our democracy. It is the people who lose out when special interests or tiny partisan groups control the outcome of our elections. To suggest that our elected officials should promote a healthy system is not na├»ve—our Republic was founded on ideals—but without a public uprising, these critical reforms will never occur.
All in all, this new Republic was a rather radical experiment. Despite their differences, our Founders were united in their role as guerilla fighters, insurgents in a revolution. When the dust settled, these men did not enshrine partisan beliefs or powers in our founding documents. Instead, the Framers gave us a strong but flexible system based on universal principles and ideals.
I have strong beliefs about the direction in which our nation should go, and I will make those arguments based not on modern political ideology but on our founding principles, constitutional government, and the lessons learned as the nation has evolved. Some positions will seem conservative and some rather progressive, but all, I believe, are consistent with the ideals at the core of our magnificent system.
Whether you agree with my proposals is not the most important thing. I welcome an honest debate; such is the essence of democracy. But as a patriot, I believe that our founding principles and system of governing are not negotiable. We must recognize the difference between honest debate over policies and philosophy and those measures that skew or upend our extraordinary system for partisan advantage. Such tactics may produce short-term gains, but in the end, everyone loses.


A Patriot in Search of a Party
Ideology is the science of idiots.
—President John Adams
Long before I studied our founding fathers or took constitutional law classes, I had my own vision of an ideal society. We’re all products of our upbringing, and Texas left an indelible mark on me. I was raised in a Dallas suburb, but my expansive neighborhood was dotted with open fields and secluded forests, a trip downtown was a big deal, and by the time I was ten, most of my free time was spent on horseback at the local stables. Reluctantly, I donned dresses for school, but the tomboy emerged with the afternoon bell.
By 1967, my family had rented a farm to house our growing herd of horses. I hauled hay, cleaned stalls, and competed in horse shows across the Southwest while my classmates went to football games and dances. In 1970, we moved to our own property sixty miles north of Big D. Rather than transfer to the tiny Celina High School for my senior year, I commuted back to Richardson each day, but psychologically, I was at home in the country.
As a kid, I was also at home in the emerging Republican Party. In 1952, before I was born, Texas broke for Eisenhower. Unlike the rest of the state, Dallas County did not return to the fold. Conservative Democrats in Dallas continued to migrate, and except for the 1964 election of our favorite son, Lyndon Johnson, Dallas County was now a Republican bulwark.
In those years, I was too young to make a reasoned political choice, but I made certain assumptions about the GOP based on things my parents did and said and the character of my community. What follows are the perceptions of a child, idealistic and uninformed. Nevertheless, they shaped the principles that still guide me today.
Texas was a unique environment in the 1960s. Houston had the Johnson Space Center, but Dallas was the business and financial hub of the state. Texas Instruments was a technology giant. Universities were popping up everywhere. Republicans were visionaries—building, innovating, and investing, publicly and privately, in America’s future.
You certainly couldn’t pigeonhole Dallas residents. It was not uncommon to wave to a banker on his tractor Saturday morning and then meet him at the theater or opera that night. Dallas was a churchgoing community, but religion was a personal matter. No one quizzed you on attendance or the nature of your faith. Plenty of people found their sanctuary where Ronald Reagan did, celebrating Sunday on horseback or with a fishing pole on some quiet creek, and that was just fine.
I grew up believing that Republicans were the “progressive” visionaries who valued national investment in science, technology, and infrastructure. Throughout history, our federal government had directed the construction of major national infrastructure including canal and railway systems, the interstate highway system, and the electrification of rural America. The Federalists, and later, the Republicans were the leaders who pushed much of this through over objections from the Democrats. They knew such investment was good for long-term economic growth and defied objections from liberals who saw this as an inappropriate or unconstitutional use of taxpayer money. Our public dollars were well spent creating platforms on which private enterprise could prosper.
I understood that much had come my way through no effort on my part. I was born in America to a comfortably middle-class white family and was provided support and opportunities many others did not have. But taking these circumstances for granted was unacceptable. In the United States, achievement was not measured by someone’s station at birth, or by bank accounts or social standing. Americans were judged on what they did, not who they were.
I was taught that all children, fortunate or not, would have a chance to succeed in this land of opportunity. The nation believed in a hand up, not a handout. Our good public school system would ensure that all kids had a solid foundation to compete in the workplace. Lawmakers were struggling to remove barriers experienced by women and minorities so that all people were judged on their merit. Success and respect were earned through integrity and hard work.
In the Crier household, this notion of American meritocracy was on regular display. My parents would tell my sisters and me, “You can do whatever you’re big enough to do.” We never imagined girls couldn’t do everything the boys could. I learned to study hard and pursue the things I was passionate about. There were no guarantees, so the message was do your best, play fair, and roll with the punches.
My folks weren’t big on rules. As in the Constitution, there was a framework for acceptable behavior but plenty of room to maneuver. That’s not to say we kids were left to run wild. On the contrary, we learned quickly that freedom expanded with trust. If I stayed out of trouble and was home by dark, I was allowed to roam the neighborhood or disappear on horseback without accounting for every moment of my time. If my grades were good, I didn’t have to abide by a rigid homework schedule. If I demonstrated sound judgment, personal responsibility, and integrity, boundaries were lax. If I violated that trust, then my parents would lay down the law.
My takeaway? Respect for social rules, often called “hidden laws,” provides much of the order needed in a community. Concepts like shame (“Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want printed in the paper”), honesty (“Lying will get you nowhere” and “The truth always comes out”), and not cheating (“Nobody likes a cheater” and “You’re only cheating yourself ”) were drilled into my psyche. The emotional consequences of bad behavior were as much of a deterrent as any tangible threat. And ultimately, the loss of parental trust could mean the loss of my freedom.
Individual liberty was cherished, but it came with basic ethical and moral responsibilities. If you couldn’t be trusted, then more stringent rules would be imposed and enforced. If your actions affected no one but yourself, then have at it. Laws intent on creating conformity were antithetical to our basic freedoms. These house rules were a microcosm of the American philosophy. America was truly the land of opportunity and our political and legal systems would ensure fair access to the playing field. What you did after that was up to you.

“Catherine Crier is widely informed and deeply intelligent, as well as passionate about history and her country. Patriot Acts is a tour de force.”
—Ted Turner, founder, CNN
“In a world gone absolutely mad with ideological intransigence often predicated on a misunderstanding of our Founding Fathers, comes Catherine Crier with a well-researched, intelligent, thoughtful and provocative look at America in the dawn of the 21st century. For the good of the country, I hope Patriot Acts is well read.”
—Michael Smerconish, nationally syndicated talk show host
“Catherine Crier presents a nuanced view of capitalism that goes beyond the stale free market versus socialism dichotomy, which seems to define all political debate in Washington. She correctly shows that the real issue is power—not just government power, but corporate power—and one is just as much a threat to freedom and prosperity as the other.”
New York Times bestselling author Bruce Bartlett, columnist, Fiscal Times; senior economic advisor, Reagan White House

NY Law - Patriot Acts: 1: What America Must Do to Save the Republic

Published on May 16, 2012 by
A roundtable discussion with Cahterine Crier, host Deva Roberts and panelists Nadine
panelists Nadine Strossen and Michelle Zierler.


NY Law - Patriot Acts: 2:  What Americans must do to Save the Republic

Published on May 15, 2012 by
Deva Roberts interviews Catherine Crier on her new book, Patriot Acts: What Americans
Must Do to Save the Republic. Nadine strossen and Michelle Zierler are also on this