The Harris Initiative (an American Challenge to a House Divided)
pharm arial, store sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;”>By Kevin B. Harris
sick arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;”>Imagine, just for one crazy moment, the gay community standing together with gun rights activists, nationwide, in support of both gay rights and the Second Amendment! Wouldn’t both groups of Americans benefit immensely by the new found strength in numbers alone? Then read on, friend. I’ve got a wild, but important idea to run by you…
My idea, though highly detailed, is based on one simple truth: That every American belongs to a “special interest group” of one sort or another. This idea is key to my initiative. So let’s take a look at that first.
Examples of the special interest groups (SIGs) I’m talking about are extremely wide ranging and diverse, and some Americans rightfully belong to more than one. Gun owners are a SIG. So are automobile drivers. Taxpayers are a big one. California Farmers are another SIG. Members of labor unions are one, as are gay Americans and members of each individual race and ethnicity. So are the unemployed, as well as homemakers and small business owners. One more worth mentioning though, is the United States Government… That’s a biggie. But hopefully, you get the idea now. It’s a list that could go on for pages, and somewhere in a government office, this list actually exists, and it does go on for pages and pages. The IRS probably has one.
At one time or another, our government succeeds in pitting one or more of these citizen SIGs against each other. There are many ways in which the government accomplishes this. Controlled dispersion of limited resources is one. Think about water rights in California currently. The environmental groups, farmers, industry and residents are all clawing at the same overburdened river and dwindling groundwater resources, while the government (both state and Federal) does all it can to keep water rare there, and to keep the debate a tense one. And that is just one example of this.
Government also uses taxation policies to pit us against each other – by way of the tiered and discriminatory income tax, and the various write-offs and loopholes that go along with it. This plagues us with things like classism and pits one industry against another, and allows our government to pick winners and losers. It lets government play favorites! How the hell did we ever come to accept these policies as fair, moral or rational?
Government also keeps SIGs at each others’ throats by limiting the basic rights of some, while leaving the rights of others intact. Gay rights; Second Amendment issues; taxpayer rights; equal rights for minorities; etc. By separating and classifying us, then treating us differently, this naturally creates divisiveness and animosity among Americans.
But why would one SIG, such as the U.S. Government, work so hard to turn the other SIGs against one another, and what does it have to do with “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE?”
Simply put, by keeping us all infighting with each other for resources, rights and privileges, the government ensures that it remains the dominant SIG. And let me suggest to you that, regardless of how capable, intelligent or efficient you think our government is, or is not, it has excelled brilliantly at achieving and maintaining this objective!
So now you have the background, the current environment in America, where a population of divided, angry, weakened citizens point at each other amid cartoonish debt, a weakening currency, more and more rights legislated away each day, self-segregation and nationwide, violent riots.
Yet with a government bigger than any in history, spending more than any in history, with less accountability than any in history, with less Constitutional bounds than ever, and is by far, the least transparent in history. I don’t know about you, but I call all of that a WIN for government.
And now, finally, on to “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE.” In short, it is perhaps the last possible solution to all of the above. The last potential salvation for the American experiment – which is clearly in great peril.
“THE HARRIS INITIATIVE” has two parts. First is a campaign to make all Americans aware of the SIG concept and their roles in it, and how and why the government uses those roles to divide us.
That’s the easy part.
Next, we convince Americans from all their different special interest groups to effectively come together as one massive SIG.
But what do Americans have to actually do in order to come together this way? (This is where we really get to the meat of “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE”). To start, Americans first have to truly understand, and respect, Liberty. According to Wikipedia, Liberty is defined, in part, as follows: “In politics, liberty consists of the social and political freedoms to which all community members are entitled.”
To be clear, Wikipedia did not underline the word “all” in its definition. I did that, because that is very important for the purposes of “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE.” So what we have to do to come together – to shake off the proverbial SIG labels we’ve been assigned, is to support each others’ basic rights and liberties.
But wait. THAT’S IT? That’s what all this build up was for, you may be asking yourself?
Okay, really think about it for a minute. I mean, if it really was that easy, we wouldn’t be so divided already, would we? Our Republic wouldn’t be so at risk, would it? Here’s the thing… Supporting each others’ rights and liberties is easy when we’re talking about like minded folks. People with similar backgrounds, political views, pasts, ethnicities, from the same geographic areas, etc. But America is far more diverse than people of just your ilk, folks.
How about this… What we have to do to come together is to support the basic rights and liberties of people we find offensive! Remember… “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE” is also an American Challenge to a House Divided.
Now we’re talking! Are you a faithful Christian? Then you know that, according to the Bible, homosexuality is a sin, right? “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE” takes no position on your personal feelings toward homosexuals, or whether homosexuality is a sin or not. But it does require that, regardless of your personal feelings about homosexuals, you openly support gay rights in your community and recognize gay Americans as equals under the law.
Are you an Atheist? Then you know that the First Amendment to the Constitution says the Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, right? “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE” takes no position on your personal feelings toward religion or people of faith. But it does require that you openly support the rights of individuals to practice their faith in private or public, so long as the practice (if in public) is not instigated or led by government employees or institution.
Are you a proud military veteran, who has enormous love and respect for the American Flag, and all that it represents? “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE” takes no position on your personal feelings toward flag burners, but it does require that you openly support their First Amendment right to burn their flag in protest, if they so desire.
Are you a Liberal Democrat who hates and fears guns in society? “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE” takes no position on your personal feelings toward guns and gun owners, but it does require that you openly support their Second Amendment right to bear arms. (The Initiative also supports your right to try to amend the Constitution).
Are you a white Conservative Republican who thinks that racial profiling against African Americans is justified based on certain crime statistics? “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE” takes no position on your personal feelings toward racial profiling or toward African Americans, but it does require that you openly support equal treatment under the law for all Americans (opposing racial profiling), including the Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches without probable cause.
Are you a young, Liberal university student who thinks Republicans and conservative ideas are so upsetting to you that you believe they have no place on campus? “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE” takes no position on your personal feelings toward conservatives, but it does require that you openly support the First Amendment rights of all political ideologies and ideas on campus.
Like the list of special interest groups itself, the list of Americans offended by other Americans could go on for pages and pages. But now you hopefully have a better idea of the true challenge presented by “THE HARRIS INITIATIVE.” And now, maybe, you understand the true nature of Liberty a little better as well. Because true Liberty involves granting freedom to those who’s actions and lifestyles you find objectionable, as well as to those you find agreeable.
Okay, so we covered supporting each others’ rights and liberties. But the concept of “coming together” also includes ending our support for divisive public policies, such as tiered income taxes and its loopholes for favored individuals and industries; and not giving authority over our natural resources to unwise, corruptible government administrators or special interest lobbyists. We’ve got to take back control of our own property and resources, so we’re not forced to fight each other to earn back a few of our own scraps!
But here’s the thing… and this is an important part of my pitch for the Initiative. If we don’t find a way to do all of this, I am absolutely positive that our American experiment is over. And while that might sound melodramatic to some of you, consider this: Nobody else will do it for us. Certainly not the government, no matter who we elect into office!
And this, my friends, is a crucial point we all should have learned by now. Government can’t self regulate. Despite all the campaign rhetoric and quest for donations, congress will never vote to shackle itself with things like a balanced budget amendment; to audit the Fed; for Campaign Finance Reform; to give you back the Constitutional Rights they took from you over the past 50 years; or to faithfully follow the 10th Amendment, and most important, to stop its policy of “divide and conquer” to the American citizenry!
Government has become a runaway train, with its annual growth set on autopilot, like clockwork, built-in to each successive annual budget. They even use intentionally misleading terms to describe future budgets! For example, when a particular section of next year’s budget finalizes at slightly below prior projections, they announce that as a spending cut! And nobody questions it! Certainly not the media… who is, simply put, an accessory to the crimes of government, from top to bottom.
So we are our own, last great hope for America. The Special Interest Group called “American Citizens.” Like it or not, folks, we’re going to have to back each other if we’re going to save ourselves from tyranny now. I’m talking about the BLM protestor backing the white cop. I’m talking about the Iraq War Vet backing the flag burning hippie. I’m talking about the outspoken homosexual supporting Citizens for Gun Rights. I’m talking about all of it.
The good news is, nobody has to change the way they feel about anything or anyone. By all means, remain offended by your fellow Americans, if that’s where you find yourself. But if you call yourself an American, and you demand your rights and liberties, you have a duty, a moral and a legal one, to grant those same rights to your law abiding neighbors, like it or not. From where I stand, doing so is our last chance to once again be the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
Kevin Harris is a reporter, editor and journalist, and previous President of Cal State Northridge’s Society of Professional Journalists. He is now also a Realtor and videographer, and lives with his two children in Thousand Oaks
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