Tomorrow is Election Day.
There’s going to be a lot of candidates and a lot parties on the ballot—Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, etc.
Someday, when I enter the booth in my local polling station to pull that lever of democracy, I hope to see the words Peace Party next to a candidate’s name.
That’s the label Daniel Webster campaigned under in 1814.
His country was in a war he thought was senseless. His neighbors felt unheard in Washington DC, and his home was becoming impoverished under the heavy costs of war.
So when he ran for re-election to the U.S. House, he wanted everyone to know where he stood, fixed and immovable: Peace Party!
You can soak up a lot of wisdom studying Daniel Webster’s forty year career in U.S. politics.
This man of New England served as a congressman, a U.S. senator, and as Secretary of State under three presidents.
He believed in the United States Constitution as he understood it, and when he would argue in its defense on the Senate floor, audience members in the gallery would weep at the beauty of his words.
Odds are you’ve heard me quote Webster before, when he advised just after that 1814 election that, “It will be the solemn duty of the state governments to protect their own authority over their own militia, and to interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power [by the federal government].”
That’s the logic behind our cornerstone piece of legislation, Defend the Guard.
After twenty years of the Global War on Terror, where multiple presidents have deployed our soldiers into more than half a dozen unconstitutional wars, it’s time for state governments to defend the integrity of their National Guard.
“It must be admitted to be the clear intent of the Constitution, that no foreign war should exist without the assent of Congress. This was meant as a restraint on the executive power,” Webster articulated in 1847.
He knew that no president of any party had a right “to go out of our limits, and declare war for a foreign occupation of what does not belong to us.”
When such action is committed by the executive, it’s done out of malice, ego, and the aggrandizement of personal power, because “no man is ignorant that the Constitution of the United States confers on Congress the power of making war.”
And the day that a president does foment war for his own agenda, involves his country in a permanent foreign occupation of lands not our own, and Congress proves unable or unwilling to stop this illegal war making, “then the whole balance of the Constitution is overthrown, and all just restraint on the executive power, in a matter of the highest concern to the peace and happiness of the country, entirely destroyed.”
That’s the world we find ourselves in.
It’s been over eighty years since Congress declared war.
Since then, the legislature has given presidents carte blanche authority to make war at will in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
And presidents have launched personal wars with no congressional input in places as far off as Korea, Syria, Panama, Kosovo, and dozens of other spots around the world.
This is what empire looks like, when one person can dictate endless wars and military deployments around the globe with no oversight or accountability.
Bring Our Troops Home is a veterans organization. We were founded by veterans of the Global War on Terror, and we advocate on behalf of our fellow veterans who aren’t given a voice in the halls of power.
We are proud of our service, and do not regret the time we spent in our nation’s uniform. But our love of our flag and our laws means we cannot sit idly by and watch a new generation of soldiers fight, die, and be maimed in a new series of unnecessary and unjust wars.
One hundred and seventy-five years ago, Daniel Webster addressed veterans like us directly. He said:
I honor those who are called on, by professional duty, to bear arms in their country’s cause, and do their duty well. I would obscure none of their fame. But I will say here, and to them, that it is the solemn adjudication of nations, and it is the sentiment of the Christian world, that a war waged for vicious purposes, or from vicious motives, tarnishes the lustre of arms; and darkens, if it does not blot, what otherwise might be a glorious page in the history of the nation that makes it.
Let us no longer tarnish the image of our nation.
Let us learn from the wisdom of Daniel Webster and our other Founding Fathers.
Let us bring our troops home and end this experiment in global imperialism.
Let us put America First, and begin rebuilding our own republic.
Let us elect a future Peace Party.
That can begin tomorrow, on Election Day.
But only if you let it.