If Patrick were here now

William Temple | Contributor

Reading the entirety of Patrick Henry’s famous speech from March 23, 1775 (not just the “…give me liberty or give me death!” part), struck me a few weeks ago by its coincidental anniversary with the signing of the House version of the “Health Care Bill” by President Obama, on of all dates: March 23, 2010- just 235 short years after Patrick’s rousing call to arms.  (And that’s about the normal time period for any republic to flourish before sliding into the morass of fiscal demise, followed by despotic intervention to “rescue the nation from itself.”)  And Patrick’s clarion call to arms against the tyranny of the British government was the only option available, since at that time the colonies had as he states, “no elections.”

But other striking similarities jumped out at me after comparing Patrick’s speech to the nation’s mood and frustration (both now and then), casting our new dictatorial elite in their open contempt of the will of the people in much the same light as those of King George and his ruling class.

So, I lovingly “tweaked” Mr. Henry’s speech to reflect the new “non-violent” option I believe he would propound to use “first”, this November, against the present tyranny; presenting it as dramatically as I believe he would himself were he here.  But let me give dear Patrick all the praise for his oratorical skills, humbly desiring that my “updating” does not flummox any Henry purists too much.

“This is no time for Ceremony.  The question before our Nation is one of awful moment to this country.  For my own part I consider the passage of this tyrannical unconstitutional health care bill at 11:15am on March 23rd, 2010 by ‘our own President’ as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in the proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be our freedom to assemble here.  It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God, our country, and to our children.  Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings, and Presidents.

Patriots, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope.  We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts.  Is this part of wise men and women, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?  Are we disposed to be the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their earthly God-given freedoms?

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth — to know the worst and provide for it.  I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience.  I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.  And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of Congress for the last ‘ten’ years, to justify those hopes with which our citizens have been pleased to solace themselves under the now trampled and tattered words of our Constitution?  Congress, the President, and the Courts have killed our Republic!

No sir, this new ‘hopey/changey’ despotism is meant for us; it can’t be meant for no other.  It was ratified by the smallest minority, against the will of the majority, and sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which Washington bureaucrats and liberals in both parties have been so long forging.  And what have we to oppose them?  Shall we try argument?  Patriots, we have been trying that all last year!  Have we anything new to offer on the subject?  Nothing!

We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain.  Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication?  What terms shall we find which have not already been exhausted?  Let us not, I beseech you, patriots, deceive ourselves longer.

Tea Parties, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on.  We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne in the White House, and implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of both houses of Congress.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional ridicule and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt by the media, and from the throne in the White House.  In vain, after all these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation.  There is no longer any room for hope.  Our Republic ‘died’ at 11:15am on March 23rd with the signing of the Health Care Bill by our own President; who swore an oath before God and man, to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution.

They tell us citizens, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary.  But when shall we be stronger?  Will it be next week, or the next year?  Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a government bureaucrat shall be stationed in every house?  Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?  Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

‘We the people’ are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.  Millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, marching on September 11, in Washington, D.C., down Constitution Ave. to show our adversary our numbers and strength, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our government can send against us.  Besides, citizens, we shall not fight our battles alone.  There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up the masses to fight our battles until November.

The battle patriots is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigiilant, the active, the brave.  Besides, citizens, we have ‘elections!’  If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest.  There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!  Our economic chains are forged!  Their clanking may be heard in the halls of Congress!  The election is inevitable — and let it come!  I repeat it, citizens, let it come!

It is in vain, patriots, to extenuate the matter.  The Lords of Congress may cry, ‘Peace! Peace!’ — but there is no peace.  The war for our Constitution is actually begun!  The next gale that sweeps from the Tea Party Movement will bring to our ears the clash of resounding ‘teapots’ for you in the drive-by media.  Our brethren are already in the field!  Why stand we here idle?  What is it that our countrymen wish?  What would they have?  Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?  Forbid it Almighty God!  I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me what? (‘liberty’ from the crowd)  Give me what? (‘liberty’ from the crowd again), or give me death!

Vote the tyrants out in November!  (marchondc.org)

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