I am an American.

What does that mean?

I can openly say what I think.

I can openly believe in any god I choose. Or not believe if I so choose.

I can legally own a weapon to protect my home and family.

I can work hard and/or smart and provide myself and my family with safety, comfort and opportunity.

I have a government that allows all law abiding men and women to walk free.

I have a Constitution that divides power among three branches of government so that no one group can enslave us.

My founding fathers crafted a document that spells out my individual rights which all government employees promise to honor.

The three separate parts of my government:

Legislative: Congress - Established by Article I

Executive: President - Established by Article II

Judicial: Judges - Established by Article III

The three branches of government share power. Each branch checks on and balances the power of the others. No one branch of government can dominate and control the other 2 branches when everything is working according to our Constitution. This constitution puts we the people in charge of our government through our elected representatives. This citizen to politician is a very personal relationship. We temporarily turn a lot of our power over to our representatives. They are sworn in and they vow to protect our constitution (As required by Article VI of our Constitution) and they promise to uphold our laws in their oath of office. We prefer that our representatives believe in god because then the oath they take is to that higher authority. Our representative cannot violate his or her oath without disturbing the connection to his or her inner peace. Too many times the promise to obey and defend our laws under the penalty of perjury is just not enough. Someone who swears under penalty of perjury to follow the law under our Constutition could easily ignore parts of our Constitution if he or she believed the Constitution was wrong. Such a person could feel morally justified in acting contrary to the Constitution because they believe they know better than the founding fathers or maybe they feel modern times no longer requires adherence to such outdated ideas. A promise to your individual god could not so easily be morally justified. Saying, "Read my lips" or "just trust me" is not enough for such an important obligation.

I have a Bill of Rights. Our Bill of Rights guarantees our personal freedom.
Take 10 minutes every 3 or 4 months to read them and think about them.
They are my and your most valuable possession. There are people who use fear in an attempt to abridge, infringe and violate our sacred personal freedoms. Unfortunately some of these scoundrels (or maybe they are misguided individuals) have been all too successful in manipulating me and my fellow Americans into allowing them to write laws that are slowly but surely constricting our personal freedoms. When I and my fellow Americans do not act and speak out responsibly, we assist these wolves in sheeps clothing in depriving us of our most important personal possession -> Our freedom to live as we believe and the freedom to develop our own individual talents in a way that enriches our own lives and the lives of those we care about. Our misdeeds and irresponsible conduct only gives the scoundrels (who want to control us) more power to write laws that they think we need and that they can use to control us. We cannot expect to keep our freedom if we do not accept the responsibility to act lawfully and ethically.

The law does not lock criminals up for vengenance or even necessarily for rehabilitation (though that would be nice). They are locked up so the law abiding citizen can go freely and securely about the country pursuing his or her dreams and providing for the people they love. When men and women are free and secure we are capable of great achievements.

When weak kneed politicians and parole boards allow violent career criminals to walk our streets they are playing Russian Roulette with my life, your life and the lives of the people we care about. There is also a more sinister side to the actions of people who allow violent criminals to walk our streets. People who want to control us (or maybe they are just misguided individuals) that allow violent criminals to walk our streets are creating circumstances that can put fear and anger into our hearts. That fear and anger can be used by politicians when they write more restrictive laws to control us or laws that abridge, deny or infringe our basic freedoms guaranteed by our Bill of Rights. Whether they intentionally use criminals to scare us into allowing them to write laws that eat away at our basic freedoms or if it just happens because of ineptitude or lack of vision, the result is the same. Will we continue to allow these people to drive us behind ever more elaborate security gates and security bars or will we demand that violent criminals stay locked up behind prison bars?

We, Americans have to fight for our freedom everyday with our words, our attitudes and our actions.

Our state governments and we the people have all the power not expressly granted to the federal government by our Constitution. The federal government has been grabbing power for a long time. Much of the time with our consent. Often because we said nothing and did nothing. Sometimes we stop them. Over 75% of what my government does is based on seven words in Article 1 of my U.S. Constitution.

The Sixteenth Amendment expanded the government's power to act and to protect us but it has also given the government the power to control us. Maybe even the power to turn us into subjects, serfs or slaves instead of the citizens as was intended by the founding fathers of our country. The Sixteenth Amendment which created the income tax can be manipulated by campaign contributions and has the potential to make some of us masters and some of us slaves. The power to tax is what gave kings and tyrants their ability to dominate their subjects. By keeping their subjects poor through taxation, they kept their subjects working. No time or energy to dream and plan for a better future. The taxes collected were used to pay for standing armies which protected their country. But those standing armies were also used to keep their own subjects afraid and under control.

There are people around the World who would like to take our individual rights away.

Unfortunately, there are too many of our own politicians and bureaucrats in all branches of government that are working diligently every day trying to eliminate some portion of our Bill of Rights.

I am concerned and hereby ask my fellow Americans to elect representatives who will ask the question, "Am I representing my constituents according the U.S. Constitution? Am I paying particular attention to the Bill of Rights and our other Amendments." Yes, their oath of office requires this of every public official. In reality we have little idea what most of our public officials are doing most of the time. (Is it any wonder we like our representatives to take their oath to a higher authority. To their own god.) Because we can't closely watch the people we hire to rule us it is important to find candidates with integrity before we vote for them. Finding good candidates needs to be one of our prime public duties. Candidates who raise large amounts of money to run their campaigns are on what I call "the slippery slope". If you require a candidate to run TV commercials, other ads and also to send you lots of campaign mailers before you will vote for them you have joined the news media in only pronouncing a candidate as viable because of the amount of money he or she has raised and the tacit agreements they must make to get that money that fills their campaign coffers. It is illegal to make a promise because of a campaign contribution. (Can you feel the "slippery slope" every politician must face when he takes a campaign contribution. The bigger the contribution the steeper the slope.) When there is a conflict between the best interest of a campaign contributor and his or her constituents a politician must break faith with one of them. Constituents rarely are aware of these conflicts while the decisions are being made. A human being with good sense and lots of integrity will back away from that "slippery slope". We are losing a lot of good people who could be our representatives because of the way we require candidates to finance their campaigns. An underfunded candidate could be the best candidate with good character and integrity. But a well funded unscrupulous candidate will "talk trash" about him or her and can destroy that person's reputation. Without money to respond, the underfunded candidate may never recover his good name and reputation whether the allegations and inuendos are true or false or just mischaracterized. We are corrupting some good people who are sliding down the "slippery slope" because they get caught up in the whirlwind of money and power and the recognition brought on by being a representative of many people.

There are people in every corner of the earth who love to dominate and control their fellow human beings with force and fear. You may know one or two. We recently removed a Man and his two sons from power who thrived on depriving others of their individual right to live free. Three men who were allowed to gain the power to give many of their fellow citizens lives of fear and in many cases brought them death. Strict adherence to our Constitution and its Amendments prevents these types of individuals from turning us into slaves or scared sheep. A Hitler, a Stalin or a Napolean may seem rare. But it only takes one tyrant and a sleeping citizenry not exercising their rights to give us all a bad day. (How about many bad days).

Our government is our responsiblity. We can blame no one else. Well, we can blame someone else if we are in denial. Freedom and liberty is a state of mind that we must fight for everyday. May we pass on those freedoms to the next generation fully intact.

We depend on each other for our sense of security, our sense of freedom, our sense of justice. We cannot be safe and free if our fellow citizens are not safe and free. We will not be free from wars and terrorism until all the peoples of the world walk as free men with the right to determine their own individual destinies according to their own individual dreams, abilities, integrity and ambition.

Lincoln Pickard places a high value on the words contained in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The other amendments are no less important. Except maybe Amendment XVI which some claim was not ratified by 3/4 of the several states' legislatures as required by Article V of our Constitution. That fairly innocuous looking amendment which created the income tax has turned into an instrument that invades the privacy of every law abiding citizen, it turns some otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals, it has people doing things that without the tax code would be considered bad economic decisions, it corrupts the political process because people give money to political candidates to influence how the tax code takes or doesn't take money from their business and/or personal wealth and creeps in and disturbs the tranquility of even the most honest of citizens. A better method of taxation needs to be found. At election time almost every politician will tell you the tax code is a burden on the people and needs to be modified. Every time it is modified it grows larger and more cumbersome and every citizen becomes more confused as to what is required. Even the IRS itself often errs while interpreting the tax code. An overbearing government can use unclear laws to create fear in its citizens and use those laws to harass and intimidate its citizenry.

Update (March 23, 2010): Eliminate the income tax. Repeal the 16th Amendment. Go back to the original tax policies in the Constitution. Reduce the size of government.

Lincoln Pickard is an American who believes we the people choose our own destiny. We create our own fate with our words, our actions and our attitudes. Throw in a lot of hard work and you have a formula for what creates happiness on this small planet.

I hope that is a good start in explaining and demonstrating what it means to me to be an American.

Ben Franklin: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

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