Updates for Thursday, January 20th [2005]

Inauguration-Fest!

1/20/2005

Dear Enternet Friends,

When I was President, I had many beliefs about the nature of government, and I could begin to list them for you here, but surely their principles in general sooner, for if I spent my time discussing each limitation it would surely be a letter than never ends, that this nature was: Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people--a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.

So today, I turned on the television station to see on virtually all of them, the inauguration of Mr. Bush as a second term for president, and remembering all my principles above, I saw little that I could approve. It was appreciative to see someone value freedom but I could not believe that Mr. Bush agreed with his own dictates about no one being fit to be master, no one deserving being a slave, as his government is too vast to believe there is such freedom today. The economy, bound and tied, by the massive throws of Congress, has enslaved most of the working men, for most of their year, to work for the prosperity of legislators. Bush has converted the aims of the United States to liberate the world to Democracy, leaving no Republicanism or Federalism for their hands, leaving their liberty in the hands of no declared intentions, but instead the presumed intent of one man and his administration, which while noble clearly lacks the humility which I had to face when I was sworn in to his same office, having to swear to the same Oath.

Likewise in listening to his address, I find it strange that he spoke so forthright about the want of liberty, in nations which detest our culture and values. The rule of tyrants must be opposed, but it cannot be opposed from without, it must be only from within, or the effort of liberation will only bring about the certain custom of electing a new tyrant, with furthered grace and zeal to carry out his oppression at our very behest. A tyrant chosen is little better than a tyrant born, yet these cultural values spread little via the use of force. Expansion of peace and commerce has had bigger effect on nations, and I believe history speaks of this well.

He also speaks of a broader definition of liberty, one I think that doesn't represent it very well. Particularly, the history of the Homesteading Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. "Bill of Rights". I used the computer to search for these acts to inform myself further. The Homesteading Act was a means the government used to ration off the lands it had acquired to private people, which is interesting, but I looked further and found that no Homestead Act of today exists, as it was repealed. Apparently government now hoards land by giving it to the state, to which I wonder, what is the greater liberty in that? Then there is the Social Security Act, compulsory welfare, and as I am concerned for the welfare of the people, I wonder if this is the best investment opportunity? I do not believe the Federal government was designed to invest retirement pension, nor do I think much investment occurs. The last order of his business was the expansion of opportunity for ex-veteran soldiers, which is an excellent incentive, however we should not encourage the standing army as a long-term lifetime occupation, but instead assemble it based on the immediate needs of the nation.

So it continues, an excess of government, most visible by the festivities for what should by all order be a mundane and humble event, a great gala and ball, one of many, for the President's victory. I believe that the cause of liberty is not best advanced by the bringing of taxes and the claim of a crusade for liberty, but instead by the security of those individuals who speak out against excesses, and do so from generation to generation. I, however, see such voices silent. And what of the state of modern Government? It certainly was once the pleasure and the pride of an American to ask, what farmer, what mechanic, what laborer ever sees a taxgatherer of the United States? For there certainly were few, but today he sees the taxes being gathered every time he unfolds a check for payment of his services, every year when he files with the Federal government for relief, and each day he spends money where there are sales taxes, when he purchases gas or liquor, even when he buries his fellowman.

Of all matters, perhaps even religion, I find myself in difference, whether slight or great, a division of principle that perhaps no span of time could gap. In matters of religion I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. I therefore had never undertaken on any occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it, but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of the church or state authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies. Mr. Bush seems to differ, as he very nearly said that the society of liberty loving people is only secured by such direction on behalf of our President, as is most obvious by the rumors of a new Amendment to ban marriage for homosexuals. I certainly cannot conceive how this ever became issue, but I certainly do know that if it ever were, that the sanctity of marriage is best secured by those same churches and state authorities, sooner than by the President himself.

Daniel did see these news events with me, and said "Boring. He was re-elected already, why is this even news?" I cannot help but find myself in agreement with such sentiment. Your humble servant,

- TH. Jefferson

Editor's Notes:

I did make two direct references to Thomas Jefferson's own inaugural addresses, with minor variations, we have the following two quotes:

"About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people--a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety." - First Inaugural Address, 1801

"In matters of religion I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General Government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it, but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of the church or state authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies." - Second Inaugural Address, 1805

A boring news week, and the inaugurational hoopla doesn't make it any less boring.


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