The Decline and Fall of America?

Have you ever felt like our country is going down the tubes and that nothing can be done?

I grew up in western New York.

Carl J. Jarvis

Carl J. Jarvis

When I was kid, I spent a lot of time driving around the area with my grandfather.

We’d go fishing, or out to the ball game.

During our trips, he’d show me where the steel mills, grain elevators, and railroads used to converge near downtown Buffalo.

Once I asked him to take me to the neighborhood where he grew up.

The area was run down and dilapidated. The house where he grew up was no longer there.

As we sat, looking at the vacant lot, I detected in his voice a hint of helpless anger about what had become of it all.

In his world, progress had been running in reverse for the better part of his lifetime.

Another time, we visited Buffalo’s old Central Terminal.

The building, like so many others in the city, could be an ancient ruin.

It reminded me of the crumbling remnants of ancient Rome.

All of this made quite an impression on me.

Seeing my grandfather’s love of the city – and his wistful sadness at the city’s decline – made me to wonder what could be done about it.

The Oath of Office

After high school, I joined the Navy.

As I took the oath of office to “preserve, protect, and defend” the Constitution, under the hot sun of an August afternoon, I was struck by the weight of responsibility suggested by the oath.

When I read the Constitution again, now with fresh eyes, one of the first things I rediscovered is that an oath like the one I’d taken is prescribed by the Constitution.

A little while later, it dawned on me: none of our elected officials take an oath to support a particular party or political leader.

They all take the same oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

Everyone takes the oath, from the president to the humblest civil servant.

In the annals of human history, this struck me as significant: in taking the oath, we swore to uphold an ideal.

Our allegiance was to an idea, not to a political leader or military commander.

Now I wanted to understand that idea – the Constitution – at a deeper level.

I began reading everything I could about the Constitution, and about the history of American political institutions.

One thing led to another.  Gradually, what started as a hobby turned into an obsession.

A Series of Conversations

Many years later, I began to realize that not everyone has the view of the Constitution which I’d developed.

At first, I started noticing this in books.

One book talked about the greatness of America, but made little mention of the political institutions that allowed our country to reach such great heights.

Another book talked about the future of freedom, but the Constitution wasn’t part of that future.

It was finally a series of conversations I had with a few people that set me on the mission I’m on today.

These folks were so negative: “the political parties are evil, the government is corrupt, the Constitution is undemocratic,” and so forth.

I said to myself: people don’t have to think this way.

And when I kept hearing, “the Constitution is outmoded, and we needed to abolish it or radically alter it to make our political process work,” that’s when I decided something needed to be done.

Forgotten Origins

In my naivete, I tried to counter these sentiments, but I didn’t have the tools at hand to do so.

That’s why I wrote the forthcoming book The United States of Dysfunction, to analyze the forgotten origins of many of the problems we see today in our political process – and to remind people about the greatness of our Constitution.

I believe that many of our problems today are intertwined: the economic decline we see around the country, the sense of powerless among the people, our neglect of the Constitution, and the loss of our civil liberties and economic freedoms.

When I think about these topics, I think back to those days driving with my grandfather, looking at the abandoned ruins around Buffalo, and I say to myself: I don’t want my country to go that way.

Please join me.

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