What does it take to remain a free people? There’s a set of principles or beliefs that must be learned and passed on. We’ve been doing just that as we study “The Five Thousand Year Leap.” (Skousen, W. Cleon. The Five Thousand Year Leap: 28 Ideas That Changed the World. National Center for Constitutional Studies, 1981). If you are new to Common Sense Civics and Citizenship, welcome. For those of you who have studied Skousen’s work with me, we are closing in on the finish line! I’ve learned the nitty-gritty details of what it takes to develop the principles of liberty that undergird our nation. Such a privilege we have to grow together in our understanding of what it takes to be free people!
Let’s jump right into Principle #20. Here’s the short version of it:
Majority Rule, Minority Rights.
You see, our Founders suffered under British rule, where the minority did not have rights. Instead, they wanted to construct a government that allows a majority of votes to win without the requirement of being 100% in unison. Our Founders reasoned that life happens. Not everyone can make it to a public assembly, making 100% representation impossible. Yet, they did not want to leave the minority behind, as it was in England. So, we have provisions such as 2/3 majority of Congress to override the President’s veto of a bill. Likewise, the amendment process incorporates a substantial majority to initiate it.
What about this Principle when it comes to ethnic minorities? You may recall Skousen’s statement in a previous chapter that every ethnic group in America was once a minority. Skousen reminds us:
“It is the responsibility of the minorities themselves to learn the language, seek needed education, become self-sustaining, and make themselves recognized as a genuine asset to the community. . . The United States has built a reputation of being more generous and helpful to newcomers than any other nation.” (Ibid., p. 232)
Moving on to the 21st Principle of Liberty:
“Strong local self-government is the keystone to preserving human freedom.”
Today, much of the attention and spotlight is on the federal government, but that is not the original intent of the Founders. As I teach my students, I ask who is most likely to help you in the event of a disaster? Is it the President? You would be surprised at how many people believe this to be true! Actually, it is your local Sheriff who protects you and your mayor who can get the most done for you. All the more reason to show up for local elections. If you’re waiting for Washington, D.C. to help, you’ll wait a long time. Want it done? Local is the way to go.
Our Founders knew that centralizing our government in the hands of a few in the nation’s capital makes citizens lazy. The people rationalize that “someone else will do it.” It’s human nature to push off responsibility to someone else. That is not what our Founders had in mind in constructing the USA. ‘We the People” is you and me. If we want to retain our voice, we must guard our liberty and take a local interest in our government. Remember the old adage, “All politics is local?” There’s truth in those words! It’s clear. Leaving the government up to someone else deprives us of liberty.
Learning these Principles of Freedom and passing them on is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.??