DONALD CONKEY: Lessons learned about American capitalism | Opinion

Several years ago, Joan and I attended a meeting of the Cherokee County Republican Party in Canton. Their program that day was one of the most informative programs the party had sponsored in several years. President Rick Davies had invited Daniel Peterson to make a presentation on economics, specifically on the role of the capitalistic economics upon which America was founded.

It had been some time since there was so much audience participation in a local party meeting. The audience felt like they were being educated with the economic education that had built America as a capitalist nation, a nation where its citizens are free to pursue their dreams of economic and religious liberty

But this meeting also reminded me that the philosophical and political divide in America was growing larger, which it has by leaps and bounds since the election of Donald Trump, with each political party digging in their heels and refusing to budge, believing their political philosophies are what’s best for “we the American people.”

What is needed,” Peterson said, “is a workable compromise to a higher goal than either party is willing to make now.”

Peterson then said one side supports an-all-powerful government that takes care of people from the “cradle to the grave” without requiring them to be responsible for their behaviors — while holding attitudes that “the government owes them.”

Historically, this attitude has led to tyrannical forms of government where no one is as free as America has known freedom since 1789, the year George Washington declared America a Covenant Nation by taking the Oath of Office as the first President of the United States — with his left hand resting on his Bible and then adding these four words to the Oath of Office — “so help me God.”

The other side of this philosophical divide claims they still believe they are the party of Lincoln whose philosophy was best symbolized by these words attributed to Lincoln: “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character by taking away people’s initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”

However, both major political parties face major challenges today. Growing numbers wonder if elected officials, when they take their Oath of Office are crossing their fingers behind their backs when they take their Oath, an Oath of Office similar to what the President of the United States takes: that he/she “will to the best of my (their) Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

America has risen to heights of greatness when faced with major challenges before. It did so when the Founders declared their independence from England; in finding the right compromises leading to the creation of the Constitution of the United States; adding America’s Bill of Rights after three men refused to sign the Constitution because they believed the Constitution as then written did not protect those freedoms they had fought for during the Revolutionary War; and in holding a nation together after the Civil War.

But in many ways, it has been America’s Bill of Rights that have provided ‘we Americans’ more protections from would-be-tyrants than the Constitution. The 10 amendments to the Constitution of the United States have been powerful allies to mankind’s freedoms for 226 years. Among the protections provided by the first amendment is the right to “peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Where would the Civil Rights Movement have gone without this protection to assemble and to petition the government to right perceived wrongs? And where would America’s great churches be today without the First Amendment?

Today, 2017, the issues of the ’60s are minor compared to the current battle to preserve America from “the swamp” or Washington’s secret combination that has gone all out to destroy a duly elected president before he destroys them. The winner of this current battle will determine what America will become in the near future — a nation run by “we the people” or a nation being controlled by the few — the swamp or the secret combination that was leading America into socialism — that is until the election upset their applecart.

Learning about America’s economic history was both timely and educational.

Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.