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“I Pledge Allegiance to… The President?”

September 23rd, 2012

Several of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities have come out in recent days with a new version of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Specifically, they’re holding their right hands over their hearts and pledging allegiance to President Obama.

Actress Jessica Alba is leading the way.  She told the Washington Examiner:

“Growing up, my classmates and I started every day with a ritual.  We’d stand up, put our right hand over our hearts, and say the Pledge of Allegiance,” explains Alba. “To me, that gesture was a promise. A promise to be involved and engaged in this country’s future.  A promise to work for liberty and justice — and for affordable education, health care, and equality — for all.”

For her part, Alba is simply acting as one of the faces of the Obama campaign’s new “For All” promotion.  Obama supporters are taking pictures of themselves pledging allegiance to Obama with important issues written on their right hands — like “equal pay”, “cleaner energy”, and “women’s rights”.

But should we really be pledging allegiance to any one person?

Doesn’t the entire thing conjure up an image of a leader who is so blinded by power that he starts operating in his own best interests — instead of ours?  Regardless of your political beliefs, America is supposed to be greater than any one person.  It’s supposed to be a nation of “We The People”.

The key word there is “people”.  Collectively.  Exercising our natural-born rights.

No matter who is in charge, we aren’t supposed to pledge allegiance to him… We’re supposed to pledge our allegiance to something much bigger.

What is Redistribution?

September 23rd, 2012

In a much talked-about video from 1998 that has just surfaced, President Obama says “I actually believe in redistribution.”

But what does that mean?

Redistribution is a fancy word for creating level incomes in a particular society.  Specifically, you take money from the rich and give it to the poor.  Redistribution is the main focus of Socialism, because Socialists believe that everyone should be equal — regardless of how much they work or how much money they make on their own.

To a point, America already redistributes some of its wealth.  After all, money for welfare and other government assistance programs comes from tax dollars.  So, some of the rich’s money is already given to the poor.

However, what would happen if America were to place more emphasis on redistribution?

History gives us two big examples of where redistribution has been tried — and failed:

–        Henry VIII seized money from the Catholic churches in England and gave it to his supporters.  However, it still wasn’t enough to keep the country afloat.  Henry VIII wound up having to lower the value of the country’s coins — which led to massive inflation.

–        During the French Revolution, police took money from the wealthy citizens.  What they left behind, looters stole for themselves.  In the end, Louis XIV was beheaded, and France was left with a dictator in charge named Napoleon.

It made a nice catch phrase for Robin Hood, but is taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor what our forefathers intended for America?

While we can’t speak for all of them, we know that Thomas Jefferson was against it.  In a letter to Joseph Milligan in 1816, Jefferson wrote:

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.”

Is Mitt Romney Right?

September 23rd, 2012

If you’re a loyal visitor to Our Voice Counts, you know that we’ve already debated whether or not America is becoming a society of moochers.

Turns out, GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney shares some of our thoughts.

Although it’s probably not the way he would have preferred the information come out, a video of a Romney fundraiser has been the talk of much discussion over the past few days.  On it, Romney talks about the people whom he can never convince to vote for him over President Obama.  According to Romney:

“There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.”

As of 2011, 46% of Americans paid no income taxes.  So, there are plenty of people who want to be PAID by the system — but aren’t willing to PAY INTO the system.  Romney mentions these people by saying:

“I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives…”

Even though the video was leaked without his knowledge, Romney has stood by his comments.

So, is he right?

Has America turned into a “me-first” society?  Are Americans simply looking for a handout?  Has it really been that long since John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country,”?

Regardless of what you think about Mitt Romney’s political beliefs, is he right?  Is a huge portion of Americans dependent on the government?  What would our forefathers think about that?  More importantly, what do YOU think about that?

What Does “We the People” Mean Anyways?

September 17th, 2012

They’re the first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution, but have you given any serious thought to what “We the People” really means?

Back when it was first written in September 1787, “We the People” referred to everyone who was living in the brand new America as a means to escape from an unfair government back in England.  By starting off the Preamble to the Constitution by talking about the people — instead of talking about the government — it was a clear sign that the government’s power came FROM the people it served.

But has the meaning of “We the People” changed since our forefathers wrote it down all those years ago?

Think about today’s political climate and how it affects “We the People”…

Does it refer to all Americans, regardless of race, marital status, religious views, political views, etc?

Does it refer to anyone who calls this country home — either legally or illegally?

Does it only refer to the “people” in power — like the members of a certain political party?

Does it only refer to people who have the means to get their message heard — like in TV commercials, in giant Facebook marketing campaigns, or in loud protests?

Does it only refer to the people who vote?

Does it only refer to the majority?

Does it only refer to the people who work on Capitol Hill?


One important thing to remember — when our forefathers came up with the term “We the People”, they weren’t just giving the American people rights.  The term was also used to describe the “people” responsible for upholding the foundations of the Constitution.

So, what do you think?  Are the “people” doing a good job of that today?

Happy Constitution Day!

September 17th, 2012

On September 17, 1787, 42 delegates met and changed the history of the world.  They had only one thing on their to-do lists that day — sign the U.S. Constitution.

Finally putting signatures onto paper was a remarkable achievement for these men.  After all, they had been hard at work for months, trying to come up with a document that would set a baby-faced America on the right path.

First, they thought they could simply rewrite the Articles of Confederation.  But, after much nit-picking, it was decided that America would be better off with a fresh document.  And so the debate began in Philadelphia’s State House, to determine what kinds of powers the federal government would have — and what kinds of options the people would have to reign it in if it got out of control.

Dozens of delegates sat around the table for four months, throwing out ideas and trying to balance ideas and fears from all over the 13 colonies.  Even though there was no 24-hour news cycle, no Twitter, and no smartphones, Americans shared in the debate — from their taverns, their street corners, and their polling places.

With so much on the line, the delegates had to get it right.  They had to come up with a document that summed up what they wanted and how they were going to get it.  If they didn’t word it perfectly, all of the fighting America did to earn its independence would be in vain.

So, when you’re going about your daily business on September 17th, think about what these men must have gone through.  The pressure they faced was immeasurable.  They — literally — had the weight of an entire country on their shoulders.

Now, it’s up to us to carry on their legacy.

Have We Become a Bunch of Moochers?

September 10th, 2012

The famous (or infamous, depending on your personal views) “99%” movement says one of its main issues is economic inequality — specifically, that there’s a huge, unfair gap between the rich and poor in America.

But isn’t that really just a fancy way of saying that these protesters want to mooch off the rich?

So many of the political protests we see are about people wanting free stuff.  You see people protesting that banks should stop foreclosing on homes or that lenders should forgive student loan debts.  Some people want to take it a step further and say that public colleges should be free for anyone who wants to attend them.  Even recent changes to welfare laws give exemptions to people in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) — meaning that they don’t necessarily have to work in order to receive their benefits.

So, does that mean we’ve become a society of moochers?

Make no mistake, people receiving government handouts come in every shape and size, from both sides of the political aisle.  While Republican leaders are firmly against having the federal government pay for anything and everything (Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney even went so far as to say that all of our government programs “foster passivity and sloth”), many of their supporters are among the millions of Americans getting billions of dollars in federal aid.

But doesn’t this go against everything America stands for?  Aren’t we the country that was formed to get away from a big, overreaching government?  Doesn’t the American Dream mean building something of your own and prospering from it?

Or are we seeing a new American Dream in the works — one where everything is handed to you by someone else?

4 Speeches That Changed America

September 8th, 2012

It’s hard to sum up the American spirit in a few short words, but these 4 speeches managed to do just that: 

  1.  Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty, or give me death”

They were the final words Henry said to the Virginia Convention back in 1775, but they certainly made a point!  In fact, Henry’s words were so inspiring that Thomas Jefferson credited the speech for Virginia’s formation of a militia that would fight in the Revolutionary War.

  1.  Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Given as part of the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetary in Gettysburg, this speech may have been short, but Lincoln made a heckuva point — that none of these soldiers would be allowed to die in vain.  Instead, Lincoln said Americans needed to use their deaths as motivation to create a “new birth of freedom”.  Lincoln refused to let the U.S. die just because it was at war with itself.

  1.  Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”

Made from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, this speech was a thoughtful, well-written, perfectly-delivered plea for America to give democracy to all of its citizens.  King’s speech defined the Civil Rights Movement and made it possible for people not to be “judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what America is all about?

  1.  George W. Bush’s address to the nation on 9/11

This speech isn’t remembered so much for its words — but for the circumstances surrounding it.  Nearly 3,000 innocent people had just been killed on U.S. soil, and there was President Bush in the Oval Office, telling Americans that we would not succumb to terrorists.

We found out later that Bush gave the speech in spite of the Secret Service’s reservations about letting the President return to Washington, D.C. that day.  However, Bush was determined to give Americans hope after terrorists tried to take it away.

Are We Headed for a Revolution of Our Own?

September 8th, 2012

With all of the fighting that’s going on amongst Americans today, it’s hard to believe that we ever agreed on anything — but we did just that when we declared our independence from Britain.

Back then, Colonists were sick and tired of getting hit with taxes — and having no say over any of the decisions that were made.  With the flick of a pen King George III created high taxes on things that Colonists had to use every day, like paper and sugar.  Adding insult to injury, the Colonists couldn’t even vote for members of Parliament!  Instead, they were stuck footing the bill for the motherland.

Eventually, though, Britain took things too far.  When a new law said that British soldiers could stay in Colonists’ houses (without the owners’ permission), it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Colonists called the legislation the “Intolerable Acts” and started boycotting British goods.

A few months later, the Colonists and the British were duking it out in the Revolutionary War — and changing the course of history in the process.

Today, Americans are just as angry as they were back then.  Ironically, the Colonists were fighting in order to get a government that gave them some peace and quiet — while today, it seems like the government is the biggest source of stress for our citizens!  Whether it’s healthcare, taxes, gay marriage, the economy, or something else entirely, Americans on both sides of the political aisle are unhappy.

How long will it be before tempers boil over and we change the course of history with another revolution?

It worked to America’s advantage the first time, but what’s to say it’s going to turn out so well the next time?

A President with No Political Party

September 8th, 2012

In today’s day and age, it’s unfathomable that someone could be elected President of the United States without any kind of political party affiliation — but that’s exactly what happened when George Washington took over!

Oh, sure, back in Washington’s days, there was plenty of political debate.  However, it was restricted to beer halls and assembly houses — and it was on a much smaller scale.  People had their own independent opinions about how the country should be run, but they weren’t part of any kind of political party.  Even when Washington was re-elected in 1793, he still didn’t have a political party attached to his name.

And that’s just how he wanted it!

In fact, Washington HATED the idea of political parties.  He was afraid that they would grow too powerful and, as a result, damage the country as a whole.  Washington thought that a young America couldn’t withstand political opponents trying to exact revenge on one another (and, to him, that’s all political parties were about — getting revenge on your enemies).  He thought political parties would be a distraction to the government — or, worse, that they would lead to people losing their freedoms.

Right before Washington left office, he made sure to let Americans know exactly what he thought of political parties — in hopes that they wouldn’t take over after he was gone.  In his farewell speech, Washington said, “…the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of the party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

Wonder what Washington would think of today’s political climate?!

The Media and Politics — Why is the Line So Fuzzy?

September 4th, 2012

Open up any history book, and you’ll see what a big role Ben Franklin played in the earliest days of American politics.  Among his many accomplishments, Franklin spent time in the Pennsylvania Assembly, the Constitutional Convention, and the Continental Congress.

But did you know that Franklin was also a newspaper man?

He owned — and wrote articles for — the Pennsylvania Gazette.  He even drew America’s very first political cartoon — a snake carved up into pieces, with the words “Join, or Die” underneath it.  Each portion of the snake represented a Colony.  Its message was clear — stand together against British rule.

But what would we say if one of the current leaders in Washington owned, wrote for, and drew cartoons for a newspaper?  Would we argue that the politician’s views were getting in the way of news-telling?

Sadly, it’s not the politicians we have to worry about.  These days, it’s the reporters who seem to be getting in the way of news-telling!

Decades ago, TV stations and newspapers forbid reporters and anchors from even having political bumper stickers on their cars — much less sharing any political views on the air or in print.  Today, political opinions are flying around on every channel!

Just check out some of the headlines surrounding Mitt Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention:

From NBC News:

“Will Romney exploit the same ‘facts’ Ryan did in the biggest speech of his life?”

From the Associated Press:

“Romney’s deficit vow is shallow”

From the Washington Post:

“Romney’s rushed, muddled speech”

From Vanity Fair:

“Mitt Romney’s best-yet speech is (finally) heartfelt”

There are news outlet attacks on both sides of the aisle, and these are only some of the most recent examples.  But after seeing some of these latest headlines, you can’t help but wonder — when did sarcasm and personal attacks become news?  When did the author’s opinions become bigger than the story?  What happened to reporting the who, what, where, when, why — and leaving it at that?


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