limited government

Collaborative Project: The Remnant

This mixed media flag on salvaged lumber is a collaborative project with Red Barn Forge of Braselton, Georgia. Local blacksmith, Dave Leimbach is creating the  frame and post/hanging hardware to convert this large flag into a tavern sign.

 

** Project Update: July 25, 2016.

As art often does, this project has evolved beyond the original vision of the artist. This is one of the many reasons I keep an art journal – a topic for separate discussion – because I often deviate far from my original concept. If I didn’t put the ideas down in notes and sketches, I might forget the original idea and never revisit it in a piece of art. I still might not, but it is at least possible if I can sit down with an art journal and reexamine ideas.

At any rate, my good friend and craftsman Dave has a creative spirit that often deviates from his best laid-plans. When I first showed him ‘The Remnant”, it was in the early stages of design. I had secured the heavy pieces of salvaged lumber to a support and cleaned off the debris accumulated from sitting in the wood pile out back of my tractor shed. You could see the path roots had taken across the wood and I intended for that character to show through.

I carefully wiped the wood down and applied a heavy coat of acrylic medium to preserve the stains and seal the grain of the wood. Then, I used my layering techniques to create a distressed version of the Revolutionary Era flag. For once, I was successful at keeping it simple. After a coat of varnish to protect the finish, I was off to Dave’s shop to turn it over to him.

Dave was going to create a forged frame and hanging hardware so The Remnant could hang like a tavern sign. Then, he pulled it out of my car, and noticed the weight, which had concerned me. We talked about it for a while and Dave thought he might make a post instead. I told him to follow his inspiration and let me know what he came up with. I would be as surprised as everyone else at the Independence Day reveal.

I was, in fact, humbled and blown away. It turned out that Dave couldn’t figure out hardware or a post. Dave is a superb craftsman; this was no lack of talent on his part. You see, he had become attached to The Remnant and its symbolism. He had to have it for his own. He needed to have a more tangible relationship with it.

Dave has not only purchased The Remnant for himself; he has converted it into a tabletop on which he can write and design his own art – finely crafted knives, forged utilitarian pieces, and beautiful leatherwork. The table now resides in his shop, which opens in Braselton on the first of August.

**Photos and links will be posted after the opening of Red barn Forge***

DavesTable

 

#TakeBackOurCulture
#IgnoreTheEstablishment
#SupportTheArtYouWant
#BeTheSolution
#ControlTheNarrative

Daily Drawing 2.10.2016: Angel Study

This drawing was the initial study for a large scale angel painting that I created to help raise money to fight human trafficking. My friend Katie was gracious enough to pose for the reference photos for this project.

The painting was purchased by a good friend, and consequently, has become one of my few donated paintings to remain where I can enjoy it. Just before Christmas, it survived a large fire and I had the opportunity to restore it for its owner. It is now on loan for my booth at Don Byram Art and Antiques hosted by the Jackson County Arts Council. If you live in the area, please stop by and check it out in person.

 

DBA Booth

 

 

Silence of the Lambs

 

This drawing is in response to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. What a lovely title. It almost makes you feel like they’ve done something to make politicians less corrupt. What they’ve really done is tell you who you can support and how much you can give them. Don’t be fooled by the tripe about getting the money out of politics. The guys with big money on both sides can find ways around something as insignificant as a little law. They already have in most cases. All it really does is make it harder for the little guy who’s trying to follow the law to exercise his right to free speech and to vote.

Making politics more transparent and less driven by money is a load and we all know it. There’s not much else to say. We all know these guys are just trying to stay in office and keep anyone new off their turf. People who break the rules under one system will do so under any system. Legislation doesn’t change that, it just makes things harder for people who follow the law.

The imagery in this drawing illustrates the red tape of government regulation silencing the people. We do this to ourselves when we continue to vote the same people into office year after year because of party loyalty. This is just one more reason I support term limits and hope to see third party philosophies become more popular. Completed – 2007
Medium: Charcoal and ink on paper
Dimensions: 24w x 24h x 1d

Additional blogs regarding the First Amendment:

The Fairness Doctrine Looms on the Horizon

The Fairness Doctrine Looms on the Horizon, Pt.2

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles and interviews have been published at Blog Bytes , Big Hollywood, and WND . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

My Mission to #TakeBackOurCulture

I didn’t realize it at the time, but over a decade ago, I was laying the foundation for a movement to #TakeBackOurCulture. For years, I had been struggling with the desire to create art that would sell and painting things that I found inspiring or meaningful. My passion and inspiration took me in the direction of meaningful work, but the more involved I became in the art community, the more I realized that, as a libertarian, I was an outsider.

Two articles by my partner at Liberatchik describe the way I was treated, time and time again, when it became obvious to my peers that I did not share their social and political views.

Stunning piece: Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist
The Top Three Reasons Why Liberals Hate Conservatives

Over six years ago, Christopher found me, compliments of the internet, and asked me to help him find other artists who were going through the same things and help him build a community where all of us could show and discuss our art and ideas. We have gone through many metamorphoses over the years and grown exponentially. Today, there are over 40 artists working with us in some capacity, though all do not share their art in our public forums. 

Below is my artist statement, which hasn’t changed all that much over the years. I look forward to the day when I can work in my studio or write, as the mood strikes me, without the need to fight for equal representation in the arts and culture or open-mindedness and honesty from the cultural elite.

Artist Statement:

In our current political climate, a new vanguard of artists are beginning to raise their voices through works depicting previously unexpressed (at least openly) conservative political views. As an individual expression, political art is a powerful tool for political activism, and arguably crucial to fomenting political change. Propaganda techniques are indispensable. Whether or not you agree with the artist whose work you are viewing, you should be able to respect their right to free speech.
As artists, I believe we have a duty and responsibility to put forth opposing points of view to that of the establishment, whomever they may be. We need to combat lies and misrepresentations with verifiable facts and expose the treachery of blindly following ‘approved’ ideas and agendas. It is time that those of us who still hold the individual supreme stand up and make our voices heard. We now face a turning point in the history of America, where we can succumb to the whims of the State and willingly accept bondage, or lead the way to a Liberty Revolution with the purpose of restoring America to a Constitutional Republic. Mrs. Pelosi once sneered, in a statement meant to squash open dialogue, “Are you serious?”; I say “Yes Ma’am, I Am”.
As libertarians and conservatives, what should we be promoting through our art? Self-reliance, personal responsibility, a return to the principles of individual liberty and limited government. Freedom over tyranny. Reverence for beauty in reality and imagination, and the use of ugliness sparingly, as a means to illustrate a point, not an end goal.
We must define our principles clearly, then promote them effectively and repeatedly in ways that are quickly and easily understood. We have the ability to make a lasting and significant impact in this war of ideas, if only we can find the nerve and the strength to oppose the status quo.
Art, regardless of genre, has the ability to reduce complex concepts to easily grasped ideas, raise people and ideas to the status of icons, and reach wide audiences through a variety of means. It is my goal, through my personal art, to promote the ideas of Liberty and individual integrity. I believe that America is a great country and patriotism should not be a stigma. There is nothing selfish in taking pride in one’s accomplishments. I hope that America will one day return to a truly free nation, because it has not been so in my lifetime. I want to leave America better than I found it. My art is my tool for shaping that future.

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Libertas Americana

 

Libertarian themes abound in The Winter Soldier

I finally made it out to the theater over the Easter weekend to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I was suitably surprised and impressed by it’s predecessor, and the related Avengers films, to make an exception to my general distaste for viewing most things Hollywood. Add to that, my general enthusiasm for all things super-hero and the fact that I have a pre-teen aged son, and it was practically inevitable that I would carve some time out of my schedule to give it a go.

 

Happily, The Winter Soldier eschews the sappy patriotism one might expect from a film centered around a character from the Greatest Generation. Overall, it’s a good action film, and nothing else need be said. But, being a political artist myself, I tend to view art and entertainment through a lens of my own perspective – as do most when scrutinizing art, whether they like to admit it or not. For those of you who simply enjoy your films at face value, and couldn’t care less about the deeper meaning(or my take on it), here is where you would likely move on to the next review. However, having read several reviews that clearly took the opposing stand, I feel quite justified in a little deconstructionism, if you will. Feel free to jump into the comments with your own perspective, as I plan to watch the movie at least one more time before laying my opinions to rest.

 

Captain America’s character becomes a bit more complex in The Winter Soldier than it was in The First Avenger, though it stays true to character. A dichotomy develops as we get to know Romanov’s character better. Nick Fury is dead, then not dead; trusted, then suspect. The obvious bad guys are the politicians, mercenaries and pirates scattered throughout the movie. The less obvious villains occupy all sides of the struggle, swimming in a grey area of philosophy and morality, or lack thereof – perpetrated in the interest of the ‘greater good’. The fate of several million people hinges on the success of an impossible mission involving Captain America, Romanov and The Falcon. The heavy, staccato beat of the music punctuates the more intense action scenes, creating an appropriately tense mood.

 

Libertarian themes abound throughout the movie, though some would prefer to call them fundamentalist paranoia. The Winter Soldier is a victim of the machinations of a power-hungry elite, bent on the establishment of a New World Order, who will use any means necessary to achieve their ends. People become statistics; their lives subject to elimination if their actions or thoughts are deemed inappropriate by the powers that be. Both sides of the conventional power structures are culpable. It is no surprise, of course, with Joss Wedon playing a part in the revival of the Marvel/Avengers genre. Geeks like me have long been fans of Firefly, his cult classic depicting space cowboys as the underdogs to an oppressive Alliance.

 

Of course, the plot, like life and war, is not black and white. It is subtle, yet complex, and the messaging does not beat you over the head. In fact, many viewers might ask, what the heck am I talking about. They just enjoyed the film. And that is as it should be. That is, in fact, much to its credit.

 

Captain America is the quintessential conflicted soldier. He fights for his nation because he believes in her values and principles, but he has come to realize that the people giving the orders can’t always be trusted – even when you like them, or think you should. He has given up everything in service to his nation, only to realize that the lines have blurred and his mission is no longer clear – at least as it is presented by his superiors. Much of the underlying struggle centers around his efforts to understand how different this new century he was thrust into is from his own, and why he was brought here to fight a war he doesn’t know enough about to understand which side he should be on.

 

The Winter Soldier, on the other hand, is purely a tool – emblazoned with a bold red star on the mechanical arm which becomes, as the movie progresses, a symbol of his degradation by the elite who control him. I can’t help being reminded of a similar tool in the person of Che Guevara, but I digress. Unfortunately, The Winter Soldier also turns out to be Captain America’s childhood friend and combat partner, Bucky – long thought dead, but cruelly resurrected by the enemy as an assassin and catalyst for the implementation of their totalitarian utopia.

 

We are left, not unexpectedly, with questions unanswered and the promise of a sequel at the end. I am happily looking forward to the next episode in the story of Captain America and The Winter Soldier.

 

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and BlogBytes. Her articles have also been published at Big Hollywood . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

Americana and Patriotica

LibertyTree

The Liberty Tree #1

Sold at Folk to Fine Art 2014

LibertyBell1

Liberty Bell #1(Photo of work in progress)

Primitives and Lawn Art

This page is dedicated to a new series of paintings, primitives and lawn art on patriotic themes. Please check in regularly for new pieces. New brick and mortar location to be announced soon!

Quality of Life in a small Georgia Town

Once again, I find myself writing to our Mayor. I moved to the country to get away from the high density population of the Atlanta suburbs, only to find that our elected officials here have dreams of swimming in a larger pond. Though I recognize that there are power-hungry bureaucrats and politicians everywhere, I was nonetheless disappointed to find that the powers that be in a community of 5000 people, two hours outside of Atlanta would have their hearts set on merging into the mediocrity of suburban sprawl.
In an effort to preserve the small town way of life that brought us here, I have started writing letters and encouraging others to make their opinions publicly known. This is my second of many such letters.

**In the interest of personal privacy, I have edited names and locations that would indicate where I live. Feel free to copy and paste this letter and customize it to the issues you see in your own area.**

Mayor xxx,

At the recent Town Hall, you indicated that you would appreciate and welcome feedback from the citizens of xxx. Though I applaud the effort you and the City Councilmen have made to get the budget in order, I have some concerns about your vision for our town.

My family and I moved here to reconnect with family and escape the high-density and consequent reduction in the quality of life we have experienced in many other parts of the Metro-Atlanta area. I have seen Douglas county allow the city of Douglasville to annex, unabated, for the purpose of building cheap housing and apartment buildings – to the detriment of their community. Their crime rate has gone up and the quality of education in their school system has gone down.
I have seen Fulton grow and develop exponentially and virtually unchecked, sinking money into impractical projects year after year – to the detriment of the community. Their crime rate has gone up and the quality of life has gone down dramatically. Last time I drove into Atlanta at night I was shocked by the number of people living on the streets.
I have seen Paulding county allow unbridled development – to the detriment of their community. They did not manage the infrastructure properly in advance of the rapid growth they encouraged and it was not uncommon, when I lived there, to have power outages and issues with the water supply. Now, they are battling accusations of corruption and mismanagement.
Finally, I have seen Gwinnett county pursue development at an unsustainable pace with no interest in the views or concerns of the existing communities or the impact on their quality of life or property values. Their city councils have aggressively pursued the rapid increase of commercial development, often encroaching on existing residential areas. The excessive building of cheap housing, much of which is half-finished or sitting empty, and apartment buildings has directly contributed to the increase in their crime rates, congestion on their roads, and reduction of air quality.

I have lived in the metro-Atlanta area for 17 years. These are not arbitrary assertions on my part. Rather, they are born of years of observation and personal experience. My family and I moved up here because we want a simpler life. We want to know our neighbors and feel like we are part of the community. I have met many people since we moved here, and they all express the same views and concerns that we have for the direction you appear to be taking xxx.
It occurs to me, when comparing all of the communities above, that they all have something positive in common – they are trying to re-establish that sense of community that we have here. They are building Town Centers that mimic the small-town, main street atmosphere that we already have. And I have to ask, why aren’t we trying to preserve that here, before it is lost?
No doubt, our community will grow. I do not object to business and industry coming into the area, providing jobs that pay better than big box retail or fast food establishments. I do not object to quality housing at a rate of increase comparable to the increase in population. What I object to is an effort to spur unbridled growth for the sake of influence and a larger tax digest.

In conclusion, I am appealing you to put aside your personal views of what may be desirable for xxx, and take into consideration what the people of xxx want. We have something special here, that has been destroyed across much of America. People are beginning to cherish and cultivate a sense of community and belonging. I would like that to be the reason people move here and our children decide to come back to live here one day; not the prospect of more places to shop and a cheap house or apartment to live in.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing your views on these points.

Sincerely,

Frances

Alinsky, Social Justice and a Cultural Revolution

#TheRevolutionaryHaloOfSocialJustice
The Revolutionary Halo of (Social)Justice

 

… to the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom – Lucifer.” – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals 1971

 

Alinsky’s dedication at the beginning of Rules for Radicals is telling of his personal morality and ultimate goals. Those who blindly follow the current purveyors of his philosophy, within our government, higher learning institutions and social organizations, would do well to examine his/their true motives and the consequences of following in the footsteps of a man who would pay homage to the ideological embodiment of evil.

 

Developing Iconography

 

There is no need to put words in Alinsky’s mouth or take his ideas out of context. There is no need to spin his philosophy like some two-bit mainstream journalist. Alinsky’s words speak clearly for him and his intent in all their wretched meaning. For this reason, several of his quotes were utilized in the under-painting for The Revolutionary Halo of (Social)Justice.

This painting is part of an ongoing series based upon stylized American Crow iconography I am developing. Though the series started out as an illustration of the OWS movement, it quickly grew to encompass progressive thought in general as well as the societal and individual consequences of its implementation.

 

(Social)Justice is an allegorical portrait of Saul Alinsky, one of the most influential progressives in American history. In Rules for Radicals, he laid the groundwork and strategy for an all encompassing transformation of American thought and culture across institutional, economic and social boundaries. This painting attempts to capture the essence of those ideas.

 

The Progressive Tactic of Fomenting Despair

 

Early in the book, Alinsky quotes Dostoyevsky: “… Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future…”

 

Do you see a connection between these ideas and the current events sweeping America today? This quote by Dostoyevsky, as used by Alinsky, points to an agenda that encourages people to disregard the historic failures and precedents of statist ideology and its implementations across the globe. It encourages one to turn a blind eye to the deliberate destruction and loss of life at the hands of an elitist few. It then calls for a blind faith in the motives and power of that elite few rather than in individual responsibility and participatory self-governance.

 

The Common Good

 

The price of democracy is the ongoing pursuit of the common good by all of the people”.

 

With this quote, we start to see how the progressive movement started to change the people’s knowledge of America as a representational republic, to a belief in America as a democracy. This is based on an agenda of steering the populace toward support of mob rule, which devolves into tyranny and a dependence on the state for structure and support. The old saw goes: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people begin to take it as truth”. Like the raucous caw of a crow, the populist mantra silences the voice of reason.

What is the goal of this redefinition of terms and intentional deception? First, it is anti-individual and purposefully vague in order to allow the elitist controlling class to redefine terms of duty and sacrifice as being for the common good. It softens the populace to the idea of redistribution of goods and services based on impact toward the common good. And, the very vagueness of the idea, gives those in control the ability to change course and redefine these very terms as needed.

 

People will rally behind the ideas of freedom and justice, even when they are denied these institutions themselves. The challenge and the power come in presenting an agenda in a way that appeals to the emotions first; to make people feel disenfranchised, victimized and entitled to compensation. Once this is achieved, it is a small step to organize them into an activist mob disinterested in the moral implications of their actions.

In fact, Alinsky goes so far as to consider moral concerns a bourgeois affectation; impracticable in the real world. His approach builds on Hobbes’ belief that men are essentially savages in a brutish world. But, rather than merely suggest that a leviathan state is the only method with which to control the vagaries of barbarism, he encourages his followers to take advantage of their collective barbarity at the expense of society.

Quotes in the Painting

I have incorporated some pop culture references and direct quotes from Rules for Radicals in the under-painting. Upon closer examination, the more relevant portions show through, inviting the viewer to step up and examine the painting closely. Of course, the crow stands alone as a piece of art, so it is not particularly relevant for you to know what it means. What it does is engage you directly as a means to open dialogue on the subject portrayed in the painting. The Revolutionary Halo of (Social)Justice is intended to inspire a closer examination of Mr. Alinsky’s model for social destruction and reformation. I leave you, for now, with some quotes from the under-painting.

“Some men can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” – Alfred, The Dark Knight 2008

“…if one lacks the luxury of a choice and is possessed of only one means, then the ethical question will never arise…” – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals 1971

“To me, ethics is doing what is best for the most”. – Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals 1971

 

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and BlogBytes.Her articles have also been published at Big Hollywood. Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

 

Editorial Cartoonist Portrays Ted Cruz as a Clown

Using Art to Push an Agenda 101

While clipping news articles for some upcoming mixed media projects, I came across this cartoon:

CruzClown

You and I may find it absurd; but we are not the target audience.

This cartoon is from the Athens Banner Herald in Georgia (hometown to the University of Georgia). As one might guess, Athens is your average college town; primarily liberal in mindset. Athens is also closely surrounded by a smattering of small suburbs and low-income areas before reverting to its rural/agrarian heritage, where people think of Athens in terms of football and ag programs – and little else.

Ironically, it is know-it-all college kids on their high horses of progressive indoctrination who will be among those most surprised, and directly effected, by the gargantuan health care law’s implementation. The average estimate projects that young Americans will see a 260% increase in premiums under the ACA, even though those same young Americans voted for democrats and a president, in part, to push this law through on the rest of us.

To be fair, some of the low-income voters and farmers in the area may have thought the bill a good idea as well, before it was passed so they could see what was in it. Perhaps they were under the impression that some evil rich guy would be paying for their healthcare henceforth and all their worries would come to an end. What a nasty surprise all of these unintended consequences must be for them.

So, why then, do we have a local paper bothering to print a cartoon ridiculing Cruz for his opposition to the ACA? If the Herald is preaching to the choir, what’s the point?

The point is, many in the choir have changed their tune, and their song has become discordant. Some people, who were perfectly happy to ignore the consequences for the rest of us as long as they thought they would be exempt, have woken up. Unfortunately for them, they have awakened to the reality of government mandated healthcare.

 

Rules for Radicals, or Those Merely Pretending to Be

 

So, amidst all of the policy debates and emotional bickering, what is the significance of one cartoon? We must defer to the wisdom(evil) of Saul Alinsky for understanding on these points.

 

First, it is designed to ridicule a Senator for doing his job: defending the constitution, as well as, the rights and concerns of his constituents. As I have explained in several previous articles, progressives use derision and character assassination to destroy the credibility of their opposition. True or not, fair or not, this tactic works. Once you consider a Senator a clown, are you really going to listen to anything he has to say?

 

For Progressives, and some GOP establishment cronies, it is enough to call Cruz a clown and consider the discussion over. That’s fine if you’re exempt from the law you passed in the first place; but what about the rest of us? For those of us who are not receiving exemptions or subsidies, the ACA is a question of constitutionality and economic impact… whatever the Supreme Court may say to the contrary. (For a more lengthy explanation of these points, I refer you to the Federalist Papers and Mark Levin’s Liberty Amendments).

 

Secondly, this cartoon is a perfect example of how progressives use culture, however insignificant, to push their agendas. You may pass a mere cartoon off as inconsequential if you even notice it at all. You may not consider it art and wonder the point I am making.

A cartoon may not be fine art, but it does have cultural significance – even more so based on its ability to reach a broader range of viewers through mass publication. Is it likely to change the minds of people like me who support Cruz? No. But it may plant a seed of doubt in the minds of people on the fence about the law. It will certainly bolster the resolve of the law’s supporters, justifying their subsequent reactions to and treatment of those in opposition.

 

Did you notice the Freudian slip and the irony contained within this cartoon? Uncle Sam is ill, but his cure won’t come from big government intrusion in the lives of its citizens. Besides, he’s old. It’s likely he’s not eligible for anything beyond end of life counseling and painkillers – while there’s still funding for such things.

 

Where’s the Conservative Alternative?

While some members of congress and the conservative media are taking a stand, where is the conservative art community on this issue? You wouldn’t know outside of Ramirez’s and Branco’scartoons because very few are giving a cultural approach a second thought on our side. Nobody with any mass influence, anyway. (That’s a subject for a future article of some length.)

Once again, our side is turning its back on one of the most influential and readily available means to effect policy debate in America. The results for our future are both disastrous and predictable.

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and BlogBytes. Her articles have also been published at Big Hollywood . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.

What Is Wrong with Conservatism, and How Can We Make It Right? A Symposium

From the Intercollegiate Review:
…The stakes of these disputes are higher than simply satisfying a craving for self-definition or reaching young Americans. Conservatism is the only sane alternative to progressive liberalism, which eschews all tradition in the name of endless “progress” (though what we are progressing toward is never clear), guided by the all-too-visible hand of the omnipotent State. If conservatives cannot agree on their own premises, they will fail to mount a counteroffensive. Without a vision of the good—without the proper institutions of civil society that conservatism seeks to preserve—modern, individualistic, democratic man will succumb to the soft despotism of the omnicompetent State…

Read the full article here.

While acknowledging the need for a conservative vision, we must take seriously Russell Kirk’s understanding of what it means to be a conservative:

Being neither a religion nor an ideology, the body of opinion termed conservatism possesses no Holy Writ and no Das Kapital to provide dogmata. So far as it is possible to determine what conservatives believe, the first principles of the conservative persuasion are derived from what leading conservative writers and public men have professed during the past two centuries.

Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.

The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. . . . The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects.

It is with this humility and understanding that we approach our questions.

Week 1: Politics, Ideas, and the West by Samuel Gregg

The Liberty Amendments, A Summary

LibertyAmendments

 

 

 

 

Rather than inject personal opinion or support for the proposals outlined in Mr. Levin’s book, I offer a summary of its contents in the hope that you will read it and come to your own conclusions. I hope, very much, that you will then be compelled to take some form of action, for to do nothing at this point in our history, would be sheer folly.

Mark Levin’s Liberty Amendments, a Review

An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for Congress

…quotes Madison, from Federalist #48, “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for… but [one] in which the powers be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.

In its original formation, the US congress was split into two very distinct houses, which were intended as checks on one another as well as on the executive branch. Today, congress works together to maintain power rather than fulfilling their duties as representatives of the American people and do little or nothing to obstruct the machinations of an over-reaching executive.

The Senate, originally elected by the state legislatures, was intended to prevent the federal government encroaching on the rights of the states. The House of Representatives, conversely, was meant to directly represent the rights and concerns of the people. Neither was intended to be a lifelong appointment, with relatively high pay and benefits or exemptions above those available to the people they represented. Their offices were intended, rather, as a civic duty to their nation and their fellow man.

The negative impact of our modern, insider culture, is most apparent in the many and convoluted ways in which the congress shuts out all but the most persistent and popular of new-comers to the Capitol. To be fair, and this is discussed in the book as well, this culture is rampant at the state and local levels as well. The incumbents, regardless of party affiliation, work together to keep challengers to their virtual thrones at bay. Term limits would return the power of self-governance to the people by limiting the power of politicians and the incentive to focus on their own gains at the expense of their constituency.

The consent of the governed is the hallmark of a constitutional government.

 

An Amendment to Restore the Senate

As discussed briefly in the previous section, it is imperative that we repeal the 17th Amendment which allows for the popular election of senators. After generations of progressive efforts to re-define the governmental and societal structure of America, it has become commonplace for the people to refer to our nation as a democracy. In short, democracy is mob rule, and is in no way better than a dictatorship. Our government was set up with checks and balances in an effort to curtail all forms of tyranny, including that of the many over the few. The Reign of Terror is an historical example of the ‘unintended’ outcome of democratic governance that Americans would do well to investigate more closely.

Critics of a republican form of government will disingenuously equate it’s nature to the current manifestation of the Republican party, knowing full well that the term means something else entirely. The terms republic, republican, democracy, and democratic, as used here have vastly different meanings that are no longer common knowledge.

In addition to restoring the Senate to its intended status as a representative of the individual state governments, Levin’s proposed amendment allows the state legislatures to remove a senator by two thirds vote if they fail to uphold their duties as a representative of that state. This allows for a more direct balance of power between the state and federal governments and provides an additional curtail to the power and encroachment of the federal government.

 

An Amendment to Establish Term Limits for the Supreme Court Justices and Super-Majority Legislative Override

This chapter sets forth the argument for establishing term limits on the Supreme Court. It also allows, in a similar way, for the over-ruling by congress of Supreme Court rulings that deviate into activism and judicial revisionism rather than adherence to the rule of law.

Because the Supreme Court has repeatedly shown an inclination toward societal restructuring and constitutional relativism, this amendment is among the most important proposed in the book. It allows for congress and the state legislatures to maintain checks and balances on the Court, thus curtailing future abuses of power.

The proposal of term limits for the Court, likewise puts checks on the accumulation of power and ability of the justices to legislate through judicial fiat. By indicating the inability of the President to veto a judicial override by the states and/or congress, this amendment eliminates the unhealthy relationship that has developed between the Judicial and Executive branches of our government.

 

Two Amendments to Limit Federal Spending and Taxing

This chapter is relatively straightforward and requires little explanation. It offers additional restrictions on the power of the federal government as well as solutions to the ills created by the current system of redistribution and subsidy that create the over-grown power structure in DC.

In short, this amendment demands that the federal government set a budget and live within its means. Rather than granting the government the power to declare a single industry too big to fail or to create incentives to favoritism, it scales back the system of lobbying for congressional favor.

Limiting the government’s ability to tax is a crucial step in this process. Whether one agrees with Mr. Levin’s proposal to cap income tax or prefers a national sales tax, it cannot be argued that nothing should be done in this regard. Conversely, the populist rhetoric of soaking the rich has been proven historically as false and detrimental to society as a whole – however much the progressive establishment may disagree.

Finally, rescheduling the deadline for filing income taxes to correspond with federal elections is a good solution to the myopic nature of the American voter. It is less likely that the antics of our celebrity culture or political distractions promoted by the media would obscure from the people who is directly responsible for their personal tax burden if elections directly followed the filing of taxes.

 

An Amendment to Limit the Federal Bureaucracy

This chapter sets limits on the establishment and longevity of federal departments and appointments, regulations, economic impact of said regulations and length of time allowed for actions setting such limits. It reminds us that the separation of powers doctrine contained with in the Constitution, not only sets limits on the power entrusted in each branch of the government, but also prevents any of those branches from delegating their powers to one another or to agencies or departments not elected directly by the people. This is particularly important in light of the modern expansion of cabinet appointments, government agencies and executive orders issued at the expense of the people without any method of recourse; including, but not limited to the passage of laws that members of government and select groups are themselves exempted from. This degradation of our Constitution illustrates …the necessity and urgency of restoring constitutional republicanism and preserving the civil society from the governing authoritarianism of a federal Leviathan…

 

An Amendment to Promote Free Enterprise

This Amendment clarifies the original intent behind the Commerce Clause, which has been repeatedly abused by the Legislative and Judicial branches of the government. In addition, it sets clear boundaries for its use and returns the majority of power to the states for defining commerce and regulating any issues that may arise on this subject.

With the Commerce Clause, more than any other, we have seen the greatest erosion of the Constitution through judicial activism and legislative abuses. In short, our own government has made a concerted effort to rewrite the Constitution for their own gain; thus proving the need for the Constitution, Bill of Rights and separation of powers outlined in our nation’s founding.

When the government can go so far as to penalize people for not spending money, under the guise of protecting the common good, we are well down the road to socialism. In other words, the nation has entered into an age of post-constitutional soft tyranny. In closing the chapter, Mr. Levin provides us this quote from Milton Friedman: “Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself… Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.”

 

An Amendment to Protect Private Property

This amendment more clearly defines individual property rights and sets clear restrictions on government infringement on those rights. In addition, it defines just compensation in the event that clearly defined public need necessitates transfer of property from an individual to the government. The chapter goes on to define the social compact of a civil society and warn against the evils of redistribution of wealth from one citizen to another by dictate or by direct seizure of property by the government.

 

An Amendment to Grant the States Authority to Directly Amend the Constitution

This amendment returns state sovereignty to the forefront of our governing process and allows for the states to roll back and prevent further expansion of the federal government. It defends the individual’s rights, allows for the maintenance of a stable and just form of government that protects the rights of all of its citizens, thus preserving society as a whole.

 

An Amendment to Grant the States Authority to Check Congress

This amendment allows the states to reign in the Congress’ power to grant favors and punish through regulation. In addition, it gives the states the power to end the habit of Congress to legislate social justice, punishing or rewarding certain groups at whim and against the wishes of the American people.

Through clearly defined procedure, this amendment sets forth rules for true transparency in government by establishing open posting of bills for public review in advance of congressional voting to establish new laws. No changes to the bill would be allowed between the time of posting and the final vote, increasing accountability and honesty in our legislative branch. In addition, this amendment sets forth guidelines for state overrule of laws, federal statutes and executive orders with clearly defined procedures and limitations on state, as well as federal power.

 

An Amendment to Protect the Vote

Simply put, this amendment requires proof of citizenship to vote. In addition, it makes provisions for those unable to afford the cost of acquiring the required documentation and puts strict limits on early voting procedures. These measures do nothing more or less than take measures to insure the sanctity and validity of every vote cast.

There is no point wasting time debating the probable success or failure of the measures defined in the Liberty Amendments. One cannot accomplish a task if one does not start it. There is no point bemoaning the likely difficulty of the task – we are past that. If we seek to restore our nation to its founding principles as a constitutional republic we must stop complaining and offer solutions. As Mr. Levin so succinctly illustrates in the naming of his final chapter, now is The Time for Action.

This review may be criticized as lacking any meaningful criticism or in-depth examination of the book – so be it. I did not write to tout my own historical knowledge or inject my personal opinion on the author’s personal motivations; as some critics may do. I wrote to highlight the importance of the call to action which it contains and the solutions offered to restore our republic. My review is so heavily footnoted, because this book speaks well enough of itself, in its succinctness and historic notation of the ills of the progressive usurpation of American law and governance.

In a world of media enamored of its own self-importance, it is time to focus on the real issues that affect our lives. It is time to offer solutions, not platitudes and petulant complaints. It is time to take action.

*All direct quotes from the book are indicated by italics*

Frances Byrd is the National Director of Liberatchik.com, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and BlogBytes. Her articles have also been published atBig Hollywood . Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.