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Once upon a time Americans ... ? 

As I write this we are but two days from the election that will determine what America will be for the next generation or forever. Once upon a time most any American understood what America was and should be. Ask any immigrant and they saw a shining city on a hill with streets paved with gold. My grandmother took a good deal of teasing from her grandchildren with stories related on holidays about her arrival before the Great War, believing that America really had streets of gold. Any immigrant could tell you that this was a great country, a place where any man—and eventually women—could be whom they wanted to be, work at any job in any locale they chose to live. You were limited only by your dreams and willingness to pursue them. 

In WWII, the children of those immigrants put ethnic and class differences aside and united to defeat the most vicious assault upon Western civilization since the Mongols invaded Europe 600 years before and proceeded to attempt to build a peace worthy of the sacrifices made by millions. America led the world and created a new image of soldiers, not the kind that sent civilians into hiding and children fleeing in terror, but the young men to whom children turned as protectors and benefactors. In my 35 years of military service I never once saw children flee from American soldiers but they flocked to them, soon followed by parents and the adult populace. Even our enemies sought to surrender to American forces, knowing that Americans would honor international law in their treatment and that to be captured by our Eastern allies meant either torture, death, or long imprisonment.

When the Cold War broke out in 1947, the contrast couldn’t be starker. The forces of the new fascism, under the guise of communism, built fences and then walls to keep people not from breaking in but to imprison the people they “liberated” and enslaved. This was best exemplified by the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 where the Soviet Russians imprisoned the population of East Berlin and East Germany behind thousands of miles of concrete, barbed wire, and machine guns, murdering nearly 300 civilians who dared attempt to escape during its 28 year existence. Similarly, the “liberation” of Cuba in 1959 by Castro was followed by adoption of communist economics and later, persecution and oppression with a heavy presence of Soviet internal security advisors who rapidly turned Cuba into an island prison for its population. Since 1960, thousands of Cubans have fled Cuba in leaky boats and every type of contraption at risk of their lives seeking American freedom, be it personal, political, religious, or economic. Not once during the last 56 years have I heard of a single refugee risking their life to break into Cuba or any other “Soviet/communist paradise.”

Sadly, America seems to have forgotten most of that history and what being free really meant. Freedom is rare and not a natural condition, degrees of tyranny being the norm for most of the world’s population. No other country in the world has the scope and breadth of personal freedom offered in this country. Yet, in this election cycle, freedom is hanging by a thread along with truth, integrity of our institutions, even in our local elections.

Relentlessly, the “left” as exemplified by the Democratic Party has waged an assault upon the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Constitution under the guise of political reform but in actuality will give incumbent politicians an absolute edge. They try to do this by limiting the speech of their opponents while protecting the speech of their supporters. They call it campaign finance reform, but the legislation they propose and the court decisions they overturn silences all but the most politically connected.

Leftists demand that artists produce art that reflects acceptable political views, along with demands that political speech and religious belief, especially its free exercise, be limited to what the government deems acceptable. Hillary Clinton has stated as much during her campaign, and Donald Trump has failed to sufficiently grasp the essence of the issue during his quest for the presidency. This will be a moot point by the time you read it, but the Bill of Rights and ultimately The Republic will not survive a Democratic victory that claims both the presidency and the Senate, which will ratify the judges who will favorably rule on Democratic legislation.

Professor Latner’s last article discussed his imminent departure into re-education camps (I promise to send him care packages), but a Clinton victory will actually produce such threats to liberty. Ask the Christians already persecuted for refusing to violate their faith. Hostile judges already demand heavy fines for non-compliance and force resistors to participate in “remedial counseling” for not celebrating whatever current social dictum emanates from radical courts.

The good professor lambasted every local conservative candidate, implying they represent moneyed interests over the public, but I wonder if he’s actually sat down and talked to them? I know them all, and the opposite is quite true; all represent local constituents fighting outside interests or over-reaching government agencies attempting to impose “tube-sock solutions” upon local communities facing complex problems. Latner’s local political heroes, for the most part, have clay feet and represent a return to the contentious political infighting that drove investors away from North County, especially Atascadero. But that’s another story waiting to be written. 

Al Fonzi is the chairman of the Republican Party of SLO County and an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com.

-- Al Fonzi - Atascadero

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