Monday, June 3, 2013

Open letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President,

I recently watched a video clip of you talking about gun control, specifically about opponents of gun control, and their fear mongering rhetoric regarding evil government's plans to oppress them.

 Your response to this was that "The government is us...", That "We the people" are in charge. I whole-hardheartedly agree with you that we the people SHOULD be in charge. However, we the people are NOT in charge.

"We the people" have been horribly split by divisive politicking., distracted by media fear-mongering, confused by a relentless barrage of half-truths and full lies. "We the people" aren't thinking rationally enough to be in charge.

More than that, "We the people" have lost significant control of our government. I point you to President George W. Bush  and the acts of government which brought us the department of Homeland security as a recent example. For years now, there has been ever increasing consolidation of power under the office of the president. You yourself have wielded "executive orders to effect, though not nearly so often as some of your recent predecessors.

I remind you that we are a representative democracy, not a true democracy. "We the people" select our representatives from a dreadfully short list of individuals, and generally based more on their abilities as momentary charmers, than their abilities as prescient leaders.

The original design for the United States was more of a loose union of largely autonomous states. The states would make most decisions regarding how things were to be done. If you found circumstances of a particular state untenable and unchangeable, there was plenty of other states to choose from. The federal government was to serve as the coordinator for those events which impacted the entire union, not as the director of basic state affairs. This model allows for different people, with different values to join together and form communities around their ideals. It offers the greatest degree of freedom for the greatest number of diverse individuals, while still provide a fundamental linkage for their shared values as a whole nation.

We have shifted from that model to a much stronger federal model, a more centralized approach.

In 2011, I wrote two Blog posts on the subject of kings. The first, titled "The Case for a King"
( Discussed the many benefits of a dictatorship, why it is appealing, and why it is ultimately a bad idea.

The Second, "Kings Revisited" ( discussed some of the ways and circumstances which cause or allow kings materialize.

While I am no great wordsmith, I would nonetheless ask you to carefully consider the points made in these posts.

Finally, consider these key points of many studies done on inherent human behavior. I offer two poignant links:

One on a Halloween candy study -

And one to "The Lucifer Effect", and analysis of several studies, as well as application to real worl events. -

The key takeaways drawn from these and many other studies are:

  • There are many (roughly 1/3) people in the population who will tend to act in their own self interest, without thought of the consequences their actions may have on others. 
  • There are a similar number of people who will tend to act with consideration of the consequences of their actions on others regardless of circumstances. 
  • And the remaining third will tend to parrot the actions of the group (or more typically, the most charismatic individual in the group).

Given that, I found myself  troubled after watching the previously mentioned clip from your speech. To suggest that "We the people" don't have to be constantly, consistently vigilant, is naive at best. To suggest that Americans are somehow immune to the kinds of events that have occurred in Iran or Turkey or any of a number of other places in world over the the past few years is particularly irresponsible of someone in your position.

I urge you to consider the realities of historical and present human behavior, and recognize the need for every citizen to be informed and prepared. Prepared to actively participate in government, and yes, prepared to defend itself against government, should the need arise. Because there will always be those who hunger for power, and those who will take power with the sincerest of desires to act as benevolent dictator (and in their own eyes they will be), but will in fact be to their subjects a malevolent oppressor. We the people are in control of our government only so long as we retain the ability to wrest control from those who would usurp it.


Edwin C. Philips

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