Tahlequah Daily Press

October 7, 2013

Those armchair constitutionalists


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TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

I write this forward to a response that I am working on about the 4th Amendment and the recent video that drew condemnation against the police officers who “hassled” a group of young people who had open carry guns. As someone who is running two business and manages 10 employees, I count myself as someone who spends very little time in the political process and political debate not because I don’t enjoy the subject (I was a history major in college) but because I see other areas in my life that require more attention.

However, from time to time, things written and/or said cause great consternation, which I believe require a response. There have been foolish, bombastic, out of line remarks and judgments that have come and continue to come from within my own party, with which I see the potential of causing much damage to our liberty movement in Oklahoma.  I chose to move 1,700 miles from California to Oklahoma after giving up a 11 year career with AT&T to put my family in a state that promoted more liberty and personal freedom. This should have resulted in living in a safer state and environment to raise a family in. However, Oklahoma is not without its problems.

Many of us would like to claim to be an expert on the Constitution, but I have found most often than not, people are ignorant of the Constitution and its history. Frustrating to me is that I find that most often these declarations come from those who claim to be conservative, small-government individuals like myself. Most have not taken the time to read the Constitution, the Federalist papers, and case law. Many in our political family have chosen for ourselves our own personal, political filters to do the hard work for us. I believe this  is the reason why we have such division in our country and within the conservative party as a whole.

This reliance on external filters is a major factor within our party that is causing so much division. So many of us have chosen to get our information from narrow, selective sources that reinforce our already-held beliefs. The Internet is full of “research” that can help us find the “truth.” Sad to say, most often than not, all we are looking for and reading is knowledge that points us in one steady direction. Those selective sources have become our lenses with which we view our political world and the Constitution by.

I have not stopped thinking about recent events that have occurred within our little Cherokee County Republican Party over the past year and which includes the recent video event that showcases the “harassment” of our gun-toting ladies of Cherokee County. This is much more than just understanding the 4th Amendment  but rather what I am writing about is more about how one should read the Constitution and how it is applied today in light of our present political discourse.

Some of us have chosen to affiliate ourselves with the Cherokee County Republican Party in an effort to move our local community and state to move toward a more liberty mindset. We can only achieve these goals if we are able to persuade our neighbors and families to embrace a more liberty mindset by showing them how it is better for them and our country. If we are successful, we grow the liberty party and the local party as well. But we will fail to reach this goal if we are perceived by the majority that we are rightwing crazies who resort to calling President Obama an idiot who was not born in the United Sates and who wishes to harm our country. We will fail at this goal if we spend our energies attacking fellow Republicans by calling them war-mongers and RINOS. Lastly, we will fail at this goal if our party and its leaders resort to attacking our local police officers by comparing them to Nazis and stormtroopers because they ask for your “papers.”

I will try to prove in the future that much of our political process, laws, history and Constitution were and are rooted in compromise and in men who were flawed and who did not always live according to what they wrote. It was soon after the Constitution was written and ratified that we had factions that had sprung up and soon after political parties. Why? Because the factions disagreed on how the government should operate. The Framers disagreed with each other on what the Constitution meant and/or what it allowed the central government to do or not to do. Is it any wonder many disagree today? Duh.

Al Soto

Tahlequah

Editor’s note: This letter has been edited to meet space limitations.