Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Guest Commentary: Enough already, let’s keep BART running

Friday, April 1st, 2016

By East Bay Leadership Council

Arousing fear and outrage has proven to be an effective strategy, especially during this political season.

The past few weeks have seen a great deal of hand-wringing and outrage in the media over BART’s woes.  The service disruption between North Concord and Bay Point has brought back traumatic memories of the 2013 strike, and old animosities have resurfaced.

The East Bay Leadership Council (EBLC) hopes to put that animosity aside and focus on keeping BART running. But just as we get the government we deserve, we also get the infrastructure we deserve.  Let us be worthy of the inheritance left to us by past generations and not squander it for the sake of pithy tweets or political posturing.

The system’s age is contributing to the current problems.  Suggesting that this claim only serves some ulterior motive is false and is a distraction from the real issues.

The core BART system will soon be half a century old.  The system suffers $9.6 billion dollars’ worth of deferred maintenance and critical components now require replacement.  This work has to be paid for, and neither the State of California nor the federal government is likely to bail us out any time soon.

Whether you believe the system has been mismanaged or not; whether you ride along the screeching decades-old tracks or not; whether you personally suffer through overcrowded cars and service interruptions or not, we all benefit from a system that eases commutes, connects people to jobs, provides mobility to those with limited means, and helps keep our air clean.

The alternative is longer commutes, more polluted air, a weaker economy, and a diminished quality of life.  This is our reality.

The EBLC believes it is reasonable to question labor practices and compensation at BART.  We encourage the Board of Directors and senior management to work diligently to address these issues, and we call on the California legislature to contribute to a solution.  It is our collective civic duty to hold our leaders accountable.

Broken infrastructure is just as bad for riders as a BART strike.  We hope that BART and our region’s leaders get the message: come together and keep BART running.

We also hope that the region’s citizens recognize that investing in our infrastructure is responsible civic engagement when the system is in need of public investment.  The Bay Area is among the world’s largest economies and requires a reliable world-class transit system befitting its status.

Ultimately, vilifying public servants is no more productive than vilifying elected leaders.  Both result in a race to the bottom where the only participants left are those comfortable with a good public shaming.

It is ridiculous to think that choking off BART’s resources will lead to a better BART.

ABOUT THE EAST BAY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

The East Bay Leadership Council (EBLC) is a private-sector, public-policy organization that advocates on issues affecting economic vitality and quality of life and represents leaders of business, industry, education, government and the nonprofit community. www.eastbayleadershipcouncil.com

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Watchdog: Concerns about Antioch School District’s support for Common Core curriculum

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Questions reasons for drop in student population

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

A number of school boards, including the Antioch Unified School District Board, are seeking to fill vacant superintendent positions. AUSD has hired Leadership Associates to aid in their search.

Here’s hoping that a new superintendent will be able to solve the District’s unexpected drop in student enrollment for which the district has offered no explanation. I find it puzzling because, Antioch’s population has continued to grow and the district’s specialized academies have proved to be extremely popular. It’s a serious problem which needs to be immediately addressed, because it will result in a loss of approximately $1.4 million in state funds which are tied to enrollment projections.

I’m also want an explanation why the AUSD school board, with the exception of Fernando Navarro and Diane Gibson-Grey, decided to purchase new Common Core textbooks and curriculum now despite the fact that revenues are declining.

As far as I know, the subject of the district’s decision to endorse Common Core curriculum was never discussed publicly with district taxpayers, many of whom will not be happy that the board adopted an educational curriculum being forced upon states by the Obama Administration who is requiring states to endorse the standards in order to be eligible for Race To the Top grants.
Common Core curriculum has been endorsed by Governor Brown and former Antioch resident Tom Torlakson, current state school superintendent and a full time elected official since 1980.

Unlike other statewide offices on the June, 2014 ballot, the race for superintendent was settled by having one candidate collect more than 50% of the vote.

Teacher unions who opposed performance evaluations in favor of retaining the current system for layoffs (based on seniority) and other state groups spent more than $4 million to reelect Torlakson, defeating candidates who wanted more freedom for school districts to try new approaches and favored promoting growth of independently managed, publicly funded charter schools.

What is Common Core?  It’s a curriculum that assumes all children will “be on the same page at the same time,” replaces classics with informational texts presented without context or explanation, and its math standards are equally dismal.  In fact, a Stanford math professor, the only mathematician on the Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the math standards because they would put many students two years behind those of many high achieving countries.

Frankly, there appears to be a similarity between the Common Core agenda and the prior No Child Left Behind underfunded federal educational program that became law in 2002, one that 44 states requested waivers from. A number of states have already dropped Common Core, discovering that when school districts are allowed to innovate and chose what works best for their students, charter schools resulted in increased student test scores.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Payton Perspective: Proposed Antioch housing is part of voter approved plans, but must be different

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Sand Creek map Scenario 1 Moderate Growh

Payton Perspective logo 2015By Allen Payton

Antioch is in the process of developing a specific plan for more housing in the Sand Creek Focus Area as described in the City’s General Plan. The area on either side of Deer Valley Road, near the Kaiser medical center, has long been planned for additional housing.

At their meeting, on Wednesday, March 16, the Antioch Planning Commission will be deciding on recommendations they will make to the City Council on policies for how the area will be developed.

Following are some key facts I believe people should know before they make comments and provide input to the Commission and the Council, as well as some of my own recommendations:

Voter Approved Housing Area

The Sand Creek Area is inside both the County’s and City’s voter approved Urban Limit Lines.  The County’s line, approved in 1989, sets aside 65% of the land in the county from development of anything more than one house per five acres. The City’s line is the same as the original County line, but the vote for that included approval of the Roddy Ranch housing project. That land around the Roddy Ranch Golf Course was sold two years ago to the East Bay Regional Park District, and is now open space.

So, any housing approved there, in spite of opposition from current residents of Antioch and East County, who are saying the City Council isn’t listening to the people, is doing what the voters allowed.

Growth Is Inevitable

Growth is inevitable as long as people keep having babies. The only way to not have housing growth is for all generations currently living in a family to all live in the same house. But, I’m sure we can all recognize that’s not realistic.

Those from the opposition to almost new housing growth, such as Save Mount Diablo, would prefer us to live in high-density, high-rise housing, and preferably in inner cities. I ask them, when is enough open space enough? They want a buffer zone between housing and the East Bay Regional Park District’s Black Diamond Regional Preserve, which our tax dollars paid to purchase. Why do we need a buffer zone for open space?

Plus, this area isn’t Mt. Diablo. That’s already been saved, which is a good thing. They need to focus their efforts on the 65% of the land outside the Urban Limit Line and face the reality that most Americans don’t want to live in high-density housing, or in the inner cities. Home and private property ownership, with space between us and the next Americans, are part of our heritage.

I understand that most opponents of new housing growth in Antioch, don’t want more traffic or are concerned about the current lack of police. But, if they own a home or reside in Antioch or East County, and weren’t born and grew up here, or live in the same home their parents owned, they are basically and hypocritically saying, “I’m in. Shut the door. I’ve got mine, too bad for you.” They need to remember that when their homes were being approved, the people who already live in Antioch or next to their subdivision probably didn’t want them built, either.

I’m sure others who live in one of the homes in the subdivisions that back up to the Sand Creek area want to maintain the area as open space. If you are one of those Antioch residents and were told that it would be permanent open space, that’s unfortunate, because you were misled.

I’m a second-generation native Californian and could have opposed anyone who moved to our state since either I or even since my parents were born in the 1930’s and would have some credibility. But, that’s a ridiculous position to hold.

I graduated from high school in Walnut Creek and after I returned from college and got married, like many of my friends from Central County, we needed a place to live that we could afford. Antioch and East County was that place. If the homes weren’t built here for us, where were we supposed to live?

It reminds me of what I said, with tongue-in-cheek, at a meeting in Concord on transportation issues attended by elected officials in the county, most of whom opposed the widening of Highway 4 and construction of the Highway 4 Bypass, because they would “induce growth in East County,” back when we were pushing for their funding and approval from 1995-98. I said “don’t blame us for the growth. You had kids over the past 30 to 40 years. Where are they living? East County. So, if you ever want to see your grandkids again, give us money for Highway 4 or we won’t be coming back to Central County because it will take too long to get here.” They laughed, but they also got the message.

It’s time we all face the fact that the long-planned growth is going to occur, in Antioch, and focus on the issues related to it. Those issues are where and when the new homes should be built, how many and what type. Plus, how do we ensure the new homes pay their way so as to not burden city services, but support them and their expansion to provide for the people who already live here and will live in the new homes.

East County is the Place

Growth is like a balloon. If you push in one side it will pop out on another. East County is where much of the developable land is still available for housing in our county. If the homes aren’t built here, within the 35% of the land in the county where housing growth is allowed – by the voters – then it will continue to occur further out in the Central Valley. That means less land to grow our food and longer commutes for those working in the job centers along the 680 and 880 corridors, Silicon Valley and even San Francisco and the Peninsula, blowing smoke out of the tailpipes longer, creating more pollution.

Now Is the Time

It is a good thing we didn’t approve the housing in what was known as Future Urban Area 1 (FUA-1) back in 1995 when I was on the City Council, and we started planning the area. We needed time for Antioch and East County to get caught up on Highway 4 widening and the extension (Bypass), and for the BART extension to be built, as well as the new school construction. That’s why a few of us proposed and got passed Measure U, the growth management advisory initiative which was approved by 69% of the voters in 1998. Now, all those things are either done or will be done in the next few years.

4,000 Homes Maximum

Back then a total of 8,900 homes were proposed to be built in the FUA-1/Sand Creek area. Now the number is down to about 4,000 homes, maximum. Recently two housing developments were approved, totaling about 1,300 homes. So there are only approximately 2,700 more homes that can be approved within the current confines of the General Plan.

The reality is enough homes must be approved to pay for the needed infrastructure to support the new developments, which includes local streets, sewer, water lines, parks and trails, plus the major roads which will serve any and all of us who will drive through the new area to either Kaiser or Highway 4 at Sand Creek Road.

Larger Homes on Larger Lots, Gated and Senior Communities

Going back to the 1990’s the plan has been as Antioch grew further south, the homes approved in the new areas would be larger and on larger lots, to add a different type of housing to the mix. While things have changed in the market place since then, the idea is to have executive and upscale housing, and gated communities, adding a different type of housing to the mix that we already have. That should help attract executives and business owners to Antioch who will hopefully bring their businesses and employ residents in our city and neighboring cities, so they would no longer have to commute out of the area to work.

Plus, senior housing communities, as have been approved in Brentwood, will provide housing for our own aging population for people who will not impact commute traffic or our schools, but stay in town during the day and spend money at local businesses and restaurants.

Hillside and View Lots

Recommendation: The Planning Commission and Council must include large hillside lots and view lots in the mix, like those in Blackhawk and the San Ramon Valley which will allow for upscale houses that command higher home prices, which attract the executives, professionals and business owners.

City Services & Infrastructure Impact Mitigation

The new subdivisions already approved in the Sand Creek area will be helping to pay for the completion of Sand Creek Road, which will connect Deer Valley Road to Highway 4 on the east side, as well as the extensions of Hillcrest Avenue and Heidorn Ranch Road. The other proposed developments in the area will help pay for the connection of Sand Creek Road to Dallas Ranch Road. The road improvements will of course serve the new homes, but will also benefit students who attend Dozier-Libbey Medical High School and provide better access to patients of the Kaiser medical center.

The homes, like all other new homes in East County will continue to pay the $15,000 fee for regional roads, such as the Highway 4 extension, previously known as the Bypass.

In addition, the new subdivisions will be paying a new, annual police fee which will help provide additional officers who will not only serve the new area, but all of Antioch.

Recommendation: The Commission and Council need to ensure that each new home helps pay for the completion of the 115-acre Prewett Park, which is the City’s regional park. There is a plan for all the vacant land between the parking lot and Antioch Community Center and Deer Valley Road, along Lone Tree Way. Just like the current homes in the newer areas of southeast Antioch paid 20% of their Mello-Roos assessment for the construction of the other parts of Prewett Park, such as the Antioch Water Park and the Community Center, the new homeowners in Sand Creek need to pay to complete the master plan of the park.

Meeting Information

The Commission meeting will be begin at 6:30 and held in the Council Chambers next to City Hall, at 3rd and H Streets in downtown.

To see the entire agenda and Staff Report for the General Plan Land Use Element Update, Sand Creek Focus Area please click here and on Item 3.

If you plan on speaking on the item, be sure to let the Commissioners know what you want to see in the new housing and subdivisions. Don’t just be against the new growth, because it’s coming. We just need to make sure it’s the type of housing we want in Antioch.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Commentary: School superintendent decision vital to Antioch’s future

Monday, March 14th, 2016

By John Crowder

Today, Monday, March 14, Leadership Associates, the search firm hired by the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) to conduct the search for a new superintendent for AUSD, will be at the Antioch Water Park in Prewett Park, available to obtain input from the public regarding the, “qualities, characteristics, background, and experience” that Antioch residents believe are important for the person eventually filling that role to have.  On Tuesday, March 15, they will be at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center, as well.

Everyone residing in Antioch has a vital interest in this decision.  One reason is the relationship between economic development and the local public schools.   This relationship was highlighted at a meeting of the Antioch City Council almost a year-and-a-half ago.  At that meeting, which took place on Wednesday, November 19, 2014, Richard Loewke, the consultant hired by the city to, among other things, determine what impediments were working against economic development in Antioch, stated, “Employers and employees with children who can afford to do so tend to look outside of Antioch in order to gain access to better performing public schools.”

As go the schools, so goes the town.  If Antioch is ever to make serious headway in economic development, it’s critical that the schools perform well.  No CEO of a technology firm, or any high-wage business, for that matter, is going to locate their business in a town where the schools aren’t performing well.  The schools in Antioch have been performing poorly for years…and if we don’t obtain a superintendent with the qualities needed to turn things around, we can look forward to another decade of their continued decline…and with them, the continued decline of our city.

Most school districts, including Antioch, tend to look for someone from within the education establishment to fill the role of superintendent.  The successful candidate frequently has a doctorate in education, and has been immersed in public education in one administrative role or another for many years…often, it’s all they’ve ever known.  We’ve tried that, and it hasn’t worked.  I suggest a different approach…find someone who is not subject to the same groupthink that typically plagues troubled organizations.  While it’s possible that someone from within the education establishment may be able to get the job done, we shouldn’t limit our search.  We need to also look outside the establishment, to the business, and or private school community.  What we need is, in business parlance, a turn-around expert.

Beyond that, the new superintendent must possess certain core behavioral skills.  Foremost among these is honesty.    The new superintendent must be willing to level with the public.  Too often, the public gets only ‘spin,’ an attempt to make bad news sound good, or to change the focus to a topic that is irrelevant.Our new superintendent must have the ability to say, “Yes, our test scores are horrible, and here is what we are going to do to turn that around.”

Second, the new superintendent must be decisive.  I’ve seen, first-hand, both middle and high school students in AUSD that can’t do basic arithmetic.  They can’t write a simple paragraph.  These students have no chance at successfully passing a rigorous algebra course, or even to write a decent college entrance essay.  Yet, instead of meeting the students where they really are academically, they continue to be moved forward.  Unable to do the work required at the next level, or even to understand what the teacher is talking about, many give up.  For most of these students, this woeful circumstance could be turned around.  But that will only happen if the administration is honest with parents about how far behind their children are, and then takes decisive action to ensure they are taught the basic skills they need in order to be able to do more advanced work…regardless of the grade level they are currently in.

Third, the new superintendent must be fearless.  I’m convinced that one of the reasons that parents aren’t informed about the lack of skills their children have, or that, when uncovered, we’re presented with excuses, is the fear of lawsuits.  When fear is the driving factor, though, it paralyzes the decision maker.  It prevents leaders from taking the decisive action needed to turn things around; from stepping up and doing what needs to be done.  In the meantime, our children continue to move through the system, unprepared for either college, or any meaningful career.

It’s become almost a favorite pastime to bash Antioch for high crime, lack of economic development, and low-performing schools.  Here, we have a chance to not just gripe, but to do something about it.  I encourage everyone interested in seeing Antioch succeed to attend these meetings, to speak or write to the school board, to talk with your neighbors and get them involved in the superintendent selection process.  Tell them you want the schools led by someone with the characteristics needed to ensure positive change: Honesty, Decisiveness, and Fearlessness.  Tell them you want someone not focused on getting by a couple of years, and padding their pension, but to consider hiring someone from the outside, from the business or private school setting, who will get the job done and not keep handing out excuses.  Our city, and certainly, our children need us.  Let’s not let them down.

Crowder is a former teacher in Antioch public and private schools, as well as administrator of a private school. He currently operates the Math Intensive program at Deer Valley High School.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Op-Ed: Right to Die vs Right to Live

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

by Rev. Austin Miles

The California legislature recently passed the right-to-die law, and Governor Brown signed it into law. It becomes effective on June 9th. This bill allows physicians to supply the pills that will end a life that has become intolerable.

This bill was spurred on by 29 year old Brittany Maynard who suffered painful brain cancer, pleaded to have her life ended to put her out of her misery.

Since California had no such law, she and her husband took up residence in Oregon where euthanasia is legal. Her husband returned to push the Right to die legislation in Sacramento.

While it is understandable that when a life is destined to end, and consists of excruciating pain that cannot be soothed, the individual should be able to make the choice for death with dignity. However, there must be strict guidelines throughout this process.

For example in several countries that have adopted this law, involuntary euthanasia rose, where one is arbitrarily put to death, as laws became more permissive. This has created a mechanism where someone who has become too expensive to government health care assistance, or is simply in the way, a Pandora’s box is flung open. I remember a video showing a man about to be euthanized screaming, “No I don’t want to die.”  Didn’t matter, he was in the way. This is deplorable.

In the Netherlands, 1,040 people have died without their consent. Before legalization, doctors would euthanize patients and then falsely sign the death certificates as “natural causes.”This gives meaning to the Death Panels that Sarah Palin worried about.  Actually we already have active death panels with involuntary euthanasia.  It is called abortion.

The only way this law should go forward, is to add a stipulation that physician assisted suicide  can only take place with the consent to that procedure from the individual targeted, not by  a death panel, not a relative nor anybody else.  This addition to the legislation is mandatory.

Miles is a resident of Oakley, CA

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Letter writer defends Hillary Clinton’s qualifications to be President

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Dear Editor:

I was surprised by the negative comments about Hillary’s qualifications made by Mr. Ralph Hernandez (my good friend) in a letter to the Antioch news paper.  I think he believes the propaganda put out by Republicans to discredit her.

I believe she is well qualified to be president of the United States. She served under President Obama as Secretary of State and did a very good job, contrary to the what the Republicans say. She was in Washington eight years with President Clinton and is well aware as to what goes on there.

My wife and I worked for the Antioch Democratic Club for many years.  My wife represented this area in the Conventions in Washington and Florida. I served as president and treasurer of the Democratic club for years and supported the Clintons for years.

Sincerely,

Joseph T. and Carolina M. Zamora

Antioch

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Watchdog: Antioch City Treasurer should remain an elected, not appointed position

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

Here we go again.  The City Council has once again decided on a ballot measure to make the City Treasurer an appointed position.  It will appear on the June ballot, in addition to the card room ballot measure.  Cost of placing the card room measure on the ballot is estimated to be $132,000 to $177,000, no additional cost to put the City Treasurer measure on the ballot at the same time.  The City is claiming, however, that by making the City Treasurer’s position an appointed position rather than an elected position the City would save $22,000.   Basically the savings would come from a future decision by Council to permit a finance director or existing staff member to take over the treasurer’s duties at the current salary.

State law requires a general law city, like Antioch, to have a city clerk and city treasurer.  The positions may be elected or appointed.  In 2012, 323 of California’s approximately 480 cities had an appointed city clerk, 307 had an appointed city treasurer.  Oakley and Brentwood both have appointed city clerks and city treasurers which, however, does not mean that Antioch should follow suit.

In case voters don’t remember, in June 2012 Council voted to place Measure L on the ballot.   If approved by a majority of voters, it would have made the offices of City Clerk and City Treasurer appointed rather than elected positions, allowing Council or the City Manager to make the appointment.  The results of the election:  29.15% YES votes, 70.85% NO votes.

When the question was asked “Shall the offices of city clerk and city treasurer be appointed”  the following basic argument was made against Measure L and still applies:  Keeping the positions elected means the voters hold the power, not Council who can fill the positions with their “rubber stamped” appointees.

Just look at Mayor Wade Harper’s recent request to remove Lamar Thorpe from the Antioch Economic Commission and Council Member Monica Wilson’s request to remove Thorpe as  one of her Standby Council Members.   Wilson recently admitted she signed the card room ballot petition filed by Thorpe, Patrice Guillary and LaTanya Harmon. That initiative, which will also be on the June ballot was sponsored by the California Grand Casino in Pacheco, in an attempt to eliminate competition. (Both Harper and Wilson are running for County Supervisor District 3 – Mary Piepho’s seat)

Prohibiting the public from voting on currently elected positions would only insulate City Council’s appointed cronies, preventing active, thinking, voting taxpayers the ability to publicly question their actions.  Folks, this is a Mayor and Council that can’t be trusted to appoint responsible people to city positions and are having to remove one of them, as a result.

I say it’s time for the public to start taking the reins back in our own hands.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Defining Conservatism

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

By Devon Minnema

I’ve recently been in Nevada working for a Super PAC. While it was truly nice to be surrounded by coworkers who share my ideology (for the most part), it served as a reminder for why I believe what I believe. While moderates would probably like to label me a “libertarian,” I consider myself a conservative first and foremost. I have found, especially in speaking with voters during my time out of state, that few people truly understand what a conservative really is. Conservatives are not nationalists, nor are they budget busters, nor are they the so-called “moral majority.”

A conservative believes in Renaissance ideals; Freedom, equality, liberty, respect, and diplomacy. Unlike Donald Trump’s fallacious supposition that conservatism is about, “conserving our money, conserving our wealth,” it is in fact all about conserving order in the pursuit of those ideals. In America, this concept has been adapted to protect the Constitution, which is more than just a piece of paper, but rather the enshrinement of those ideals. Peaceful transition of power, restrictions on the influence of the federal government, and the protection of states’ ability to make their own laws and economic systems are key pieces in the Constitutional puzzle. This is why conservatives are so often constitutionalists as well.

Simply wanting smaller government or even good governance does not a conservative make. You must ask yourself why. Why do you want smaller government? Is it so you can enjoy freedom and liberty? Or is it simply because you don’t trust Democrats?

The Renaissance was much more than simply writers coming up with new political concepts. The Renaissance was a renewal in the Greek and Roman tradition of being at peace with our humanity. This also meant that you could be at peace with other’s humanity, whether you agreed with their interpretation of the world around them or not.

Our “Western Civilization” developed due to shared suffering under Roman Catholic rule after the fall of the Roman Empire. Rather than continue to live under the oppressive and corrupt ways of the Medieval Church and it’s approved monarchies, the Renaissance brought back the Greek and Roman interest in secular governance. Roman Catholicism preached that people needed to be ashamed of their humanity. Piousness and subservience to the church was the ideal. A life of comfort or success was seen as gluttony and greed, as any and all profit beyond what was needed for survival should be “given” to either the church or the church-approved ruler. The “Dark Ages” was a period of civilizational formation, where nomadic tribes fell into this shared experience in which tyrants and the occasional real leader would unite and/or subjugate them. It took approximately 1500 years for our civilization to realize that despots, with unlimited power over their subject’s lives, was not a very good idea.

The Renaissance was just as much a historical breaking point as it was an intellectual and scientific enlightenment. The educated members of this civilization were able to look back at the previous 1500 years and realize that not one kingdom had sustained prosperity for more than a few decades at a time. That was because rulers who had been easy on their people or stood up to the church in defense of their subjects were more often than not followed by a ruler who didn’t care about their living conditions or natural rights.

When our nation’s founders put together the Constitution, they knew that never before had a government been formed with the intention of protecting people’s rights rather than impeding upon them. The founders had already tried a straight representative democracy, but knew that it had been too chaotic and simply resulted in either the smaller states being trampled or the larger states being stifled.

Our country is special. It is not because our people are somehow inherently “better,” or that we have some secret “superior” values or even that there is any specific cultural difference, as many nations within Western Civilization share, to some degree, our values. Nor does it have anything to do with our soil. The area of the United States could just as easily be ruled by a despot as it could be a republic.

It is that our government was founded upon the idea of liberty and then that was anchored with the Constitution.

There is no threat nor technology that changes the importance of freedom.

ISIS is scary, and social networking makes it all the more apparent, but the anarchist movement of the 1800s was just as scary and that resulted in the assassination of a United States president. The Tripolitan Pirates declared war on us and actively captured and tortured American citizens but we didn’t give up our Constitution. The British invaded and burned Washington, D.C. and we still didn’t give up our Constitutional rights.

Despite our resolution to hold the Constitution sacred in the first half of our national history, we hail those presidents that amassed more power for themselves, or even broke the law. Democrats romanticize Franklin D. Roosevelt when he imprisoned American citizens and denied them due process, all in addition to abusing the Interstate Commerce Clause to the point of logical yoga. We hail Lyndon B. Johnson as a hero for the working class when his policies bastardized the 10th amendment and have kept the American south poor and uneducated for decades. We put Truman on a coin despite nationalizing an entire industry and shredding property rights as well as the aforementioned 10th amendment..

To invalidate even one piece of the Constitution is to invalidate the culmination of the sum experiences of Western Civilization and essentially say that “We know better.” Do you really have that much hubris that you would risk forcing posterity to live under tyranny. Invalidate the Constitution and you invalidate what made us great.

So go ahead, tell me that you have nothing to hide and that the FBI should force Apple to risk the cyber security and privacy of the entire country, but realize what you are saying by invalidating the fourth and first amendments. Go ahead and claim that presidents shouldn’t be required to get a declaration of war, as required by the Constitution, but realize the consequences of perpetual intervention overseas.

Conservatism isn’t about conserving wealth or conserving resources, it is about conserving freedom and liberty, the ideals that faux conservative politicians so quickly bastardize in the name of nationalism or national defense. If what you want is nationalism or military dominance, go ahead. Vote for the Hillary’s, and Trump’s, and Marco’s of this world. But true conservatives will be fighting to defend our rights, our Constitution, and not just the bits that are politically expedient.

Minnema is a 20-year-old college student and small business owner.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter