DELIVERED ON 10/28/20
The United States should pursue a policy of peace with all nations, free trade and freedom of travel for all peaceful and law-abiding citizens. No one has improved on the wisdom of the Founding Fathers on international relations. George Washington wrote, “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.” Thomas Jefferson favored “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none.”
In 1821, John Quincy Adams wrote that America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”
American liberty is incompatible with a global military empire and the Founders knew that. The Spanish-American War got the US started on the wrong path–the road to empire and ultimate ruin that led to the disastrous Iraq War. At the time, Buffalo’s own Mark Twain wrote: “I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”
To fight dubious foreign wars opposed by huge swaths of American society, the progressive imperialists introduced a concept common to Europe’s empires but foreign to the American republic–conscription. America’s worst president ever, Woodrow Wilson, signed the first conscription bill in 1917. The bill was challenged in the Supreme Court in 1918 and was upheld by the progressive justices of that era, many appointed by progressive heroes Roosevelt and Wilson.
Law professor Henry Mark Holzer, a long-time opponent of conscription, wrote about this decision:
“The defendants’ legal argument [was] that conscription was akin to slavery . . . . Compelled military service, they argued, was repugnant to a free government and in conflict with all the great guarantees of the Constitution as to individual liberty.”
Professor Holzer has long contended that the best constitutional ground for opposing conscription is the Ninth Amendment, an argument not presented to the Court in 1918. The Ninth Amendment states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Holzer believes, correctly, that, if the government can seize your body, transport you to foreign lands for obscure reasons and force you to face a hail of bullets and die, then your death renders all of your other rights rather moot at that point.
Libertarians in all eras have opposed conscription as the ultimate violation of individual natural rights. The Libertarian Party was itself the product of a larger libertarian movement whose very origin was a split with conservatives over conscription during the Vietnam War. The modern libertarian movement was born when the libertarian faction of the Young Americans for Freedom split from that organization in 1969 over opposition to the Vietnam War and the draft and support for marihuana legalization.
I’d be remiss if I did not pause to reflect and honor the memory of the Buffalo Nine, who were charged and tried in the former federal courthouse behind me for resisting the draft. Let me read the names of these courageous activists who put their liberty on the line to protest the draft and the war:
- Bruce Cline, organizer, Buffalo Draft Resistance Union
- Ray Malak, Chairman of the Research Action Committee of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Vietnam veteran
- Thomas O’Connell, Vietnam veteran
- The late Bruce Beyer, organizer, Buffalo Draft Resistance Union
- James McGlynn, Vietnam veteran
- Bill Berry, organizer, Buffalo Draft Resistance Union
- Carl Kronberg, organizer, Peace and Freedom Party
- Jerry Gross, Chairman of Youth Against War and Fascism and
- William Yates, Students for a Democratic Society
The draft was eliminated by President Nixon in 1973 at the urging of his unsung, libertarian policy adviser Martin Anderson. Sadly, Jimmy Carter reinstated draft registration in 1980 as part of his foolish intervention into Afghanistan which led to an alliance with Afghan mujahideen who later would ally with a man named Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.
One of the main reasons to avoid intervention into the internal affairs of foreign counties is that government bureaucrats who can barely govern their own countries or their own lives lack the knowledge or competence or moral authority to govern other nations. The draft has not been reinstated in the last thirty years, nevertheless, our young men who turn 18 must go through the motions of registering with Selective Service as a symbol that their lives can be disposed of any time by the government during yet another foolish foreign war. Unless we act now, our daughters will also soon be forced to celebrate their 18th birthdays by acknowledging that the federal government owns their bodies and their very lives.
If elected, my first act after voting against Nancy Pelosi for Speaker will be to submit a bill to eliminate draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System and its 26-million-dollar budget.
At the same time, we need to end the foreign wars and bring the troops home from their World War II bases in Germany and Japan. The War is over folks, didn’t you get the message?
We also need to reduce our reliance on a large, expensive standing army and move very quickly to reinstate a militia system involving every able-bodied citizen exercising their right to bear arms. We have seen in recent months that the police and even the national guard have not been able to protect us from riots, looting and criminal violence. However, we have also seen that in towns, villages and neighborhoods where it is well known that there is a high rate of civilian gun ownership, there has been little violence or unrest. The Second Amendment Works!
Sadly, recently, we have also seen evidence that the Founders were right to fear standing armies or what they called “select militias,” controlled not by the people but by the politicians. The National Guard is now in uniform at the Buffalo Airport intimidating travelers and enforcing Governor Cuomo’s illegal travel and quarantine restrictions.
Sorry folks, the Founders were right. Americans cannot rely on standing armies or select militias controlled by politicians to preserve our liberty. But we can protect our liberty by reviving the militia system which consists of the citizenry itself and which thus will never attack their own liberty but will help protect the country from all enemies foreign and domestic.
To that end, and because the Second Amendment Works, the second bill I will introduce will guarantee the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase, keep and bear arms such as handguns, shotguns and semi-automatic rifles, regardless of unconstitutional state laws such as we have in New York, for the purpose of defending themselves, their communities and the nation itself in case of foreign invasion. This bill would effectively nullify the SAFE Act and the Sullivan Act, the New York pistol permit law, both of which are blatantly unconstitutional and thus subject to Congress’s authority to pass laws to protect our Fourteenth Amendment rights.
The last several months have been a revelation. We have learned that American government will seize all the power they can by claiming the age-old excuse of every dictator–we have an emergency. We know that the lockdowns caused civil unrest by disrupting the lives of Americans, destroying the economy and making us stir-crazy. And we know that in the riots that followed, the government was utterly incapable of protecting us from violence.
The government has failed as it almost always does. It is time for American citizens to stop relying on politicians to protect them and their communities.
It is time to abolish draft registration, end the foreign wars, bring the troops home and restore the militia system; and it is time to repeal all state gun laws that violate the right of Americans to bear arms in defense of their families, their communities and their nation.