The Virginia state seal is emblazoned with the ominous words, "Sic Semper Tyrannis," meaning: Thus ever to tyrants.
The "tyrant" that the Virginians' English, Scottish and Irish fathers and grandfathers faced was James II. He refused to enforce the laws that a duly elected parliament had passed simply because he didn't agree with them. In 1689, the citizens forced him to sign the English Bill of Rights that stated, among other things, it was the king's duty to abide by and to enforce all laws.
Michael McConnell, a retired U.S. District Court of Appeals judge and current law professor at Stanford University, points out that the English Bill of Rights was the most important precursor to our own Constitution (Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2013). Additionally, the Founders instituted a system of checks and balances among the three branches of government to ensure our nation would never be controlled by a tyrant.
Mr. McConnell goes on to say, "Like King James II, the president [Obama] decides not to enforce laws he doesn't like. That's an abuse of power." What are these serious allegations based upon? There are many, but the three most egregious are: the recent delay of implementing major portions of the Affordable Care Act; the directive to the Justice Department in June 2012 to delay proceedings that would have led to the potential deportation of over 800,000 illegal immigrants; and, in early 2012, the gutting and restructuring of state requirements defined in the No Child Left Behind Act.
All of these laws were passed by Congress and signed into law by the president with no provisions authorizing the president to amend or repeal them. Many may applaud Obama's actions (conservatives may wish Obamacare had been delayed permanently), but that is not the issue. The president's job is to duly enforce the laws passed by the Congress. To do anything else ignores the voice of the people, and that is tyranny.
In addition to Judge McConnell's' allegations, consider the arrogant and flippant responses by key members of Obama's staff to House and Senate Committee members who questioned them: Eric Holder's blatant refusal to provide important information about Operation Fast and Furious; Hillary Clinton's verbal backlash during questions about the Benghazi debacle and Ambassador Christopher Steven's death; the illegal recess appointments of representatives to the National Labor Relations Board; or, most recently, IRS Acting Commissioner Steve Miller's condescending testimony and subsequent resignation after discovery that the IRS was targeting groups affiliated with conservative causes. All of these scandals, among others, are still under investigation and, until they are resolved, they remain a threat to our freedom, our security, and our Constitution. This abuse of power should be a concern for all Americans, regardless of political affiliation.
Tennesseans, like their fellow Virginians, faced tyranny before. In October 1780, a small settlement of pioneers at Sycamore Shoals, a community near the modern city of Knoxville, asked for volunteers to respond to threats made against them by British Army Lt. Col. Patrick Ferguson, marching with a band of Loyalists from North Carolina. The "Over Mountain" volunteers responded by viciously attacking Ferguson's group at King's Mountain, N.C., and gave the struggling colonies their first major victory in the Revolutionary War. A generation later, more volunteers from the new state of Tennessee defeated the British again, marching with Andrew Jackson to the Battle of New Orleans. Is Tennessee still the "Volunteer" state that is willing to stand up to tyrants? Let our leaders know we will not tolerate tyranny in any form. We cannot respond with long rifles and muskets, but we can write our congressmen, volunteer in campaigns, and, in the next election, use our vote to send a message to Washington.
Sic Semper Tyrannis! Go Vols!
Roger Smith retired as a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel and has since been a pilot with Southwest Airlines. A lifelong student of history, he recently published "American Spirit," a historical work of fiction set in early America. He and his wife, Patti, live on Possum Creek near Soddy-Daisy.