By my count, there have been four major choices in America’s history — the Revolutionary period when we had a choice of living under a centralized government and king or self-determination; the Civil War when we had the choice of federalism or confederacy; and the World War I and II eras, when our national leaders chose between isolationism or empire. Each gave us a choice, and each choice dramatically changed the direction of our country — and the world.

Daniel Petry

Daniel Petry

Sure there are other points in our history that have had a profound impact, but those can be considered as “aftershocks” as the nation adjusted to a changing paradigm. With the Revolution, we went from a government centric, monarchical system to one of individual states granting very limited power to a federal authority. With the Civil War, we had states rights consolidated into a stronger federal entity with broader powers of control. In the first 40 years of the 20th century, we moved further from our founding principles to an increasingly centralized federal system. A perfect example of this centralization would be the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913. One must also remember that this period showed just how much of our freedoms were being destroyed when two progressive presidents ignored the rule of law, seized American citizens, confiscated their assets and threw them into concentration camps.

It’s true that for most of recorded history, humanity has lived, worked and died under tyrants. But with the advent of America, the world saw a nation not ruled by tyrants but one ruled by a common inanimate thread. A strong Constitution. A fixed document that has allowed America to grow by limiting what the government can do to its citizens — not the other way around.

Keep in mind that our current president has stated that the Constitution has failed to define what the government can do to its citizens. He calls it a negative document. Not withstanding the ongoing assault on our Constitution, this magnificent document formed a structure that by words alone has been able to restrain the forces of tyranny, allowed our nation to prosper and given our citizens a level of freedom not seen in human history. Until now.

We now face another national crossroads. A statistical historian was recently quoted as saying that “the gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them may be as big today as the gap between the colonies and England during the 18th century.” He also said that “the American people don’t want to be governed from the left, the right or the center. They want to govern themselves.”

As a result, our nation is as polarized as it has ever been. The government is actually “feeding” on the economy, its productive citizens, trying to grow entitlements as fast as possible, while clueless politicians, aided by a sycophantic media, fuel divisiveness to the point of violence. Executive branch leadership is nonexistent, and the individual parties are comprised of a partisan old guard just focused on maintaining their positions of power.

There are few compromises being considered, with violent reactions increasing day by day. Our public employees are fighting to maintain their economic and personal perks regardless of the consequences to the nation. These privileged — and corrupt — power bases are now arrayed against Americans who want their government limited in its power, and those who work for them to know their place.

Remember what Benjamin Franklin once said: “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He knew that they had created something magnificent, but he also knew that men were weak and easily swayed by the same forces that would guide them into tyranny through the use of fear and manipulation of self-interest. Franklin knew that a Republic was not natural and would need constant vigilance supported by an educated citizenry. “Mr. Franklin! What kind of a government have you given us?! A Republic, madam, if you can hold on to it!”

For more than 100 years, dark — no, I will say evil — forces have been chipping away at the Constitution, eroding your individual rights and freedoms. It starts with such seemingly innocuous things as seat belt laws, then restrictive gun laws for law-abiding citizens, banning signs at public park rallies, mandates on what types of food you will eat, favored status to those the corrupt system feel support their goals, crony capitalism, government edicts on everything from the carbon dioxide you exhale, to mandates that American’s are required to buy particular products and services, to traveling under the watchful eye of a massive structure of not so benevolent government sanctioned, poorly educated, borderline sexually assaulting “protectors.”

These dictating bureaucrats have even tried to make lead bullets illegal because of the toxicity of lead. I laugh at that because maybe deep inside their minds they realize that bullets are very toxic — to them. Thanks to the last two presidential administrations, law enforcement authorities conduct secret searches and wiretaps in your home or office without showing probable cause. Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin are smiling in their graves.

Citizens who engage in nonviolent civil disobedience are labeled as terrorists. It is a crime to try to safeguard your privacy. We have returned to domestic spying on law-abiding religious and political groups. The Department of Justice now actively encourages federal, state and local officials to resist access to government records through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Harkening back to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Americans can now be arrested and held without a formal charge or the right to confront the witnesses or evidence against them. And federal bureaucrats now routinely use the Patriot Act to further domestic cases that have noting to do with the original intent of this abhorrent law.

To an alarming degree, the very document that gives us our God-given rights has been destroyed — by both parties. Yet the onslaught continues and is actually speeding up. We have an executive branch led by an extreme ideologue who has taken the word czar and made it into a pathway for gelding the legislative branch of government and usurping the Constitution. The White House is now even writing its own laws and actively supports the undermining of others. They seize the assets of others and hand them over to those who will support them in their political aspirations. We even heard the first voice of totalitarianism when that paragon of freedom, Nancy Pelosi, proposed that elections should not be as important as they are. You know that deep inside that dark, dank, evil mind she wonders how progressives can eliminate these pesky election cycles.

“It is my intention to radically transform the United States of America.” — Barack Obama. I have been asked, how does one identify a tyrant? It’s very simple. If you hear a politician or his or her supporters pontificate about democracy, you are listening to a person who supports tyranny.

It was never the intention of our founders to create a democracy. They hated democracies. They feared them. They knew that all democracies fail and always degenerate into abject tyranny. Now the good news is that we don’t live in a pure democracy — yet. For this you should be ecstatic.

Look closely at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The word “democracy” can’t be found anywhere in these documents. That’s because it was a concept that the founders knew was the antithesis to individual freedoms. In his book titled A History of the American People, Joseph Ellis states that the term “democrat” originated as a curse and referred to those “who pander to the crude and mindless whims of the masses.” That’s a perfect fit for today’s Democratic and Republican parties.

Ask yourself this: When politicians define America and justify their actions, why do they use the word “democracy” instead of “Republic”? They do it for the same reason that former Democratic Rep. Phil Hare yelled during a town hall meeting, “I don’t care about the Constitution.” When a vacuous and traitorous politician makes a statement like, “Elections shouldn’t matter as much as they do,” then you’re listening to tyrants. Tyrants don’t care about the rule of law, and they certainly don’t care about any provision in the Constitution that deprives them of power and authority.

When President George W. Bush pushed the Patriot Act through a weak and trembling Congress, did anyone hear the voices of us who were screaming, “No!”? No, we were drowned out by the mumbled masses of fear-driven Americans who had no idea that hard-won freedoms were being further eroded. To these politicians and bureaucrats, the Constitution is a despised hindrance, and as President Obama has said, “It is an inconvenient document” that gets in the way of their desire to grow government and to enhance themselves.

Politicians like Hare shouting “I don’t care about the Constitution,” or Bush and Obama, need excuses for their actions. They justify it by saying that it is “the will of the masses, the will of the majority for the betterment of all, for your security, for the children.” These politicians will rationalize every excess, every imperial edict, every new wealth seizure and redistribution policy on the basis that this is what the people want, and to the devil with the rule of law. To resist is to be labeled a revolutionary and anti-government, and suffer everything from beatings to imprisonment.

The problem with the stance of these petty tyrants is that it closes the door to the possibility of compromise. It undermines responsible deliberation. It prevents an open mind. It denies us from having the reasoned debate that is needed to face the challenges of our nation. This ego-fulfilling, self-centered, power-hungry narcissism destroys our cultural fabric, and it encourages the most extreme elements of our society to commit violence against those who dare oppose the tyrants. As such, the imperial presidency needs to be eviscerated.

If you are a Democrat or Republican who loves government, you find it incredibly difficult to understand why people wouldn’t like big government. Not just government, but big government. Look at all the great things it does for us! Look at all it does to protect us! Look at all it does to make things fair. Look how it takes care of us and protects us from the vicissitudes of harsh reality. Who is to feed me and my family? Who is going to house me? Who is going to keep me healthy? Who is going to watch over and train my children? So, who is there to guide these trembling, huddled, uneducated, unwashed masses? The tyrants.

Be clear on this: It is not wrong to distrust government. It is not wrong to fear government. It is not even wrong to hate government. Government is force. Government is the only element in our society that has been given the right to use force to accomplish our goals. But you need to be prepared that you may encounter those who have been empowered to use force to accomplish any goal and do so at a great price to you, your family and your freedom. If so, be vigilant, and resolve to defend yourself when necessary.

So, why has Obama been a godsend to the nation? He has given us a stark choice. The right and the left have already set their flags on the hill — we know where they stand. It’s the moderates who needed to be brought out of their slumber, and Obama has done just that. He is the embodiment of a vile progressive movement, a lightening rod that these fence-sitters can now focus on as a single point of reference.

There is no middle ground. They have a choice before them. One is the tyranny of petty pols such as Hare, Pelosi and Obama. The other is a return to what made this nation great. As a people, we now find that we have the opportunity to restrain government, its power and its impact in our lives. To do otherwise surely would lead to the transition of our country into something far less than it has been and far worse than it can be.

“It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work — work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.” — President Ronald Reagan, Jan. 20, 1981.

— Santa Barbara resident Daniel Petry is the CEO and founding partner of Petry Direct Inc., a 20-year-old management firm that specializes in content production and marketing management. He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, class of 1976, and received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado.