Don't tread on me
By: Elaine DeIorio | Published on 07/10/07
History was made June 28, 2007. History that has its roots in the 18th century Colonies of the United States of America. The colonists of that time disagreed with the policies of its present government – Great Britain. They felt what the government was doing was unfair and needed to be stopped. When all else failed, the colonists eventually resorted to taking up arms against its government.
Sound familiar? It should. Think about the recent developments and final outcome of the Senate’s immigration bill. Whether you agreed or disagreed with the provisions in the bill matters not. The facts remain the same.
Certain senators tried to quickly pass a massive, yet mysterious bill that hardly a senator had read. Yet this was a bill that could hugely impact the entire country. Again, it matters not if you supported or did not support the bill. A few aspects of the bill can be generally agreed upon.
1.) More time was needed to research the economic and social impact the bill would have on the American people. Senators are the people’s voice in the government. How could the people have any say or opinion in a bill that not even their elected officials had read?
2.) A main facet of the bill was de facto in contrast to the American tradition of the rule of law. No matter the pros and cons or the good and bad amendments, an inescapable fact was the rewarding of illegal acts. Crossing the border illegally and remaining in this country illegally are, in fact, against the law. Not only did this bill not punish the illegal immigrants, it gave them a “free pass.” No matter the rationalization, the bill is still contrary to the basic principle of law – punishment of illegal acts. As Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said, “It [the bill] does not meet our highest ideals.”
Americans across the nation became aware of this bill. And they didn’t like it. In fact, most people were so convinced the bill was bad for this country that they decided to tell their senators exactly how they felt. Nevertheless, the Senate turned a deaf ear.
News of and dissatisfaction with the immigration bill swept the nation coast to coast. Talk radio, internet blogs, e-mail chains and other forms of grassroots efforts helped inform citizens, and in many cases, incite them to action. Still, the Senate moved forward with the legislation.
Like the patriot colonists in 1776, American citizens decided to take a stand. Though the colonists struck back with arms, the American people fought back through phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and personal visits to their senators.
"This immigration bill has become a war between the American people and their government. ... This vote today is really not about immigration, it's about whether we're going to listen to the American people," said Senator Jim Demint (R-SC).
This country was founded on the principles of representation. The senators were elected to represent the wishes of the people, and are therefore responsible to them.
And so the people spoke. The phone in every office of every senator on Capitol Hill was ringing with concerned citizens insisting that the bill be killed.
And still the Senators pushed on.
Now enraged at being ignored by their elected officials, the American people redoubled their efforts. Voice and e-mail inboxes filled with messages faster than the staffers could empty them. “Vote no!” the American people insisted.
Some senators listened. Support for the bill diminished slowly as a few seemed to remember their duty of representing the wishes of their constituents. Others, surprisingly, read the bill to see what all the fuss was about. As Senator Sessions had said all along, “In terms of lawfulness, decency, morality and the national interest, the American people are head and shoulders above Members of Congress...”
Perhaps it was time the American people had their way.
Opposition to the bill only grew among the US citizenry. Letters to the editor sprung up like grass after a summer rainstorm. Even television and radio commercials played nationwide. The issue was ubiquitous. It was huge.
It began as a few secluded campfires dotting the landscape of the vast, dark nation. Then it became hundreds, and then thousands, and then an immense, unstoppable blaze that slowly, steadily, moved across the country toward D.C. And finally, the US Senators felt the heat within their palatial confines of Capitol Hill.
And then there was a vote.
And 53-46 the bill failed.
A minority of senators lost that day, yet the American people won, along with the ideals of representation and self-government that originated in the era of the American Revolution.
The US Senators should have learned a valuable lesson. The American people have not lost the spirit of their forefathers – the spirit and the knowledge that they, as American citizens, are in charge of the country. As former State Representative Dennis Baxley (R-FL) often said,
“This seat in the House is not mine. It didn’t belong to the representative before me, and it doesn’t belong to whomever comes after me. It belongs to you, the people. I just come and sit here for a little while, to carry out the people’s wishes. But it will always belong to you.”
That is what our patriot forefathers intended for this country. When the people speak, the government should listen. This is what the American people never forgot, but what the US Senators needed to be reminded of. This is the spirit of the original colonists who fought against the government for what they thought was right. And this is the spirit that inspired the motto on the flag of those colonists, and what is still true today. The American people told the Senate very clearly, “Don’t tread on me.”
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