• Jefferson Said It, ‘The People’ Must Do It: The Duty of Eternal Vigilance

    Surge Summary: Thomas Jefferson’s concept of “eternal vigilance” means every American must stay alert and speak out, even resist, when the nation’s liberty and constitution comes under threat of any kind.

    by Karen Testerman

    Maybe the middle school government class or the high school U.S. History class shared the quotes of our Founding Fathers, but it has been only recently that the significance of these sayings are illuminated in the depth of meaning of those simple sentences.  For too long, while I believed that we live in the greatest country in the world, I like so many took for granted the sacrifices others made so that I could enjoy the magnificence of the United States of America.

    I gave little thought to the words of Thomas Jefferson saying, “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”  Of course I assumed that someone else was watching the hen house.  Over the course of time it is apparent that each individual has a role to play in the eternal vigilance that will secure our freedoms.  It isn’t just the soldier who willingly pledges his life, his sacred honor and his fortunes who secure our freedoms.  It isn’t the politician in far off Washington, D.C. who sets policies and passes laws who is tasked with ensuring our freedoms.  It isn’t the teachers or the pastors who guide us in the knowledge of what freedom represents.   I have come to realize that each and every day, the assignment is mine.  l am tasked to be vigilant…to listen carefully because words have meanings…to observe well because actions speak louder than words…to seek truth because we are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.

    Understanding that liberty is exercising our freedoms with responsibility.  I can have a lot of freedom, but without conscience that freedom can yield harm and destruction.  I must participate at whatever level I am positioned and able.  The phrase, “bloom where you are planted” comes to mind.  Every day, I am interacting with someone, either in person or electronically.  The thoughts and words we share have meaning.   We impact others with the words we speak, write and share.  It is my job to research subjects and ideas that inspire me, then utilizing that information to engage in discussions with those in my circles of influence.  By the way, it is a two way street.  I am willing to listen to others as well as to share my thoughts.

    When I observe something contradictory to the fundamentals that make the USA special, then I must step forward to bring awareness into the discussion.  Of course, I realize that not everything I think is important will gather steam, but someone else may share my concerns.

    One lesson I have learned is the meaning of words. I have come to regularly ask how the person I am talking with defines the terms being used.  What do you mean by choice?  Whose choice?  What is safety?  Understanding terms is vital.

    Thanks to an article by Jake MacAulay, I now understand that the original intent of an Executive Order applies to the cabinet of the official who is issuing the order.  So when the President issues an Executive Order it is to the Cabinet and the officials who serve under his authority.  When the Governor issues an Executive Order it applies to the staff and the officials who are under his authority.  In other words, government officials operate within the powers delegated to them by the constitutional documents.  Our Founding Fathers were extremely careful not to establish a king or dictator, but rather they went to extraordinary efforts to protect the individual responsibility for self-rule.

    In other words, regardless of the situation, emergency or not, neither a governor nor the President of the United States can suspend the Constitution.  Likewise, the legislature cannot grant the executive branch powers it does not possess.  The Constitutions are specific and limiting in the powers to legislate.

    Hence we the people have the responsibility to be ever vigilant.  We also must be careful not to relinquish our God given liberties in exchange for “safety” … As Benjamin Franklin warned, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

    Related column:

    Unconstitutional Executive Orders: What’s Law Enforcement’s Proper Response?

    The views here are those of the author and not necessarily Daily Surge.

    Image: Adapted from: Jorfer – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5109259

    Karen Testerman is the host of the Karen Testerman Show on radio and co-host of the Chic Chattin Hour television show.  She is the founder of Cornerstone Policy Research, a former candidate for public office including Governor and a staunch constitutional, liberty loving American.  She lives with her husband, Dave, and Bouvier Dutch in NH.

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