The Wisdom of Ben Franklin

“Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Original Quote, Notes for a Proposition at the Pennsylvania Assembly

In the spirit of Independence day, as more and more conservative Americans are happy to sacrifice liberty for security, I quote one of the wisest of our founding fathers. A man so full of patriotism, a man with viscera of red, white, and blue, brings us this golden nugget of political advice. NEVER allow such a thing like the Patriot Act to pass. NEVER allow the telecommunications immunity bill to safeguard domestic invasion. Gawrsh, folks, what have we brought upon ourselves?

But what can we do? The original Americans fought off British rule, and for one good reason; no taxation without representation. And I believe that this statement decries the fundamental abcess of our political system; we are being represented, but inaccurately.

Everyone, save for the bloodsuckers themselves, have a distrust and distaste for politicians. Were this 1776, would we be so wary of Benjamin Franklin? Of Thomas Jefferson? Would we have open disrespect for George Washington? I’d like to say that we’ve gotten smarter, and our representatives have done quite the opposite. Or, perhaps not. Perhaps they’ve grown accustomed to the wealth that comes with station. The power that allows them every uncivil liberty they can grasp. The tax loopholes, the under-the-table bonuses, the favorable rates on loans and mortgages.

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creatures, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” – Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

In this endless outstretching of greedy, blood covered hands, Americans have lost their accurate representation. Some 75% or more of Americans are against the Iraq War. Who the hell does the 25% think they are? We aren’t accurately being represented, and this nation was founded on ‘No taxation without representation.’

When do we have 1968? When do the students stand up to their universities and create a public disturbance, capture the American eye, and change the way the world works? When do civil rights leaders stand up for our inalienable right to privacy? When do judges and lawyers begin their proceedings with “Innocent until proven guilty?” When do men and women from every walk of life, from every demographic and every minority and every political group stand up against a war without reason?

The defeatist in me says it’s all but over. We’re on our last legs as a civilization. Every great empire has risen and fallen in style, some fading into the background, some going out in a blaze of glory that would turn the sun green with envy. How will our fade to black look?

“In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults – if they are such – because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.” – Benjamin Franklin, speech to the Constituional Convention, June 28th, 1787.

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2 Responses

  1. We are fat and complacent here in America. We have no desire to see the realities of our own situations if it’s going to make our own lives any more difficult than they have to be.

    Not only this, but in “advanced” civilizations where so much of one’s own time has to be spent thinking about one’s own health care, education, and retirement…with such an unsettled future, who thinks about the present?

  2. Tahnks for posting

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