Very recently I noticed that Lady Gaga's followers on Twitter had reached the 14 million mark, truly an astounding figure. In mentioning that to a friend of mine, the comment was made that this is proof of just how much the country has degenerated, where 14 million people follow the every move of an admittedly odd, but business-savvy pop icon; where there have been over 425 million views of a Justin Bieber video on YouTube, but where less than 100,000 people have watched a video from Hillsdale College having to do with the US Constitution. My friend lamented that we have our priorities all mixed up...that the numbers should be exactly opposite, with millions upon millions of people reading about, watching videos about, and talking about the Constitution.
I disagree. Our Declaration of Independence states that we have three rights: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The moment I have to give up one of those rights, then part of what makes this great country "great" has been lost also. If I must give up my observation of Gaga-ishness, for even a moment, then something has at the very least distracted me from one of my rights.
But, we are told that we must maintain eternal vigilance. I'm going to agree with that statement, but I'm going to argue that the vigilance does not, by necessity, have to be done by you and me personally.
We buy dogs, small yippie ones as well as big and ferocious ones to either make noise when an intruder comes around or to possibly chase off an intruder and guard our precious goods. We hire security guards to watch over our possessions, our loved ones, and our buildings when we can't (or don't) take time to do that ourselves. If the dog we purchased begins ferocious and constant barking in the middle of the night, we don't roll over in bed and assume that it's over-reacting. If the security guard informs us that someone tried to break into our property over the weekend, we don't accuse them of being a fear-monger. No! In the case of the dog, we get up and look. For the guard, we thank them and possibly hire even a second security guard to help protect our "stuff".
Why shouldn't we hire a watchdog for the rights that we swear are so important? We do! We "hire" our elected officials. We hire them through elections, and then we require that they raise their hands and swear to uphold and defend the Constitution from all threats, both foreign and domestic. We also have unpaid groups of watchdogs, people who would rather study the Constitution and keep their eyes on Congress, than keep their eyes on Gaga! Go figure!
Then, when our unpaid watchdogs tell us that someone is tampering with the Constitution, we call them reactionary, or worse, and never sit down to hear about just what they fear is being done. Moreover, we castigate Congresspersons as powerless at best and evil at worst. Yet, we don't vote to replace them, often letting those we classify as scoundrels stay in their elected domain for decades.
Actually, I do fall into the camp that says we need to get involved personally in the process of studying, watching, and defending our Constitution. However, I don't come to that conclusion because I don't want to do something frivolous with my time like watching Lady Gaga. I don't! But, I do like football and would watch a few games each week, if I had the time. No, I come to the conclusion that we must personally watch out for our rights, because the people we've hired to watch out for our rights are not doing their job, at best...and, aiding the demise of our rights at worst.
I should have the ability and the right to go about my job or leisure activities each day, safe and secure in the knowledge that the one thing I don't have to worry about is my very right to do the things that give liberty and pursuit of happiness to my life. If I wake up in the morning fearful that my government is as threatening to my freedoms as a common criminal on the street, then something is ominously wrong.
We have reached that point where fear that government is bent on the destruction of rights guaranteed to us in the Constitution is no longer the stuff of novels. It is real. And, it may be too late to bend the curve back in the other direction. It is certainly not too late to stop politicians from doing things that are outside of the scope of the Constitution or are simply done in spite of prohibitions in the Constitution.
A great conversation needs to happen about just what kind of country this will be and just what form of government we will have. But, my fear is that while we are all atwitter over Gaga, the form of our government, the one that was given to us as the sovereign holders of power, will simply be taken away from us as a thief takes away unguarded property in the middle of the night.