PEORIA, IL (September 17, 2012): Politic365 Senior Contributor and noted public speaker Lenny McAllister spoke at the Constitution Day 2012 event in downtown Peoria, IL. Despite weather factors inhibiting his ability to give prepared remarks, Lenny gave off-the-cuff remarks to a packed restaurant in an impromptu indoor rally to avoid the late summer storms.
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Lenny’s full prepared remarks can be read below:
“Good afternoon, Tea Party Patriots! Happy Constitution Day. What a day to celebrate triumph after toil! What a day to embrace freedom after in-fighting!
What a day to remember that rich and poor, White and Black, upstate city folks and downstate grassroots Americans can work together – through passionate debate and the discomfort of social crisis – to make a plan that makes a better America.
We have seen this play out in the Constitution of this great land, from the original formation of the founding document to the Bill of Rights and to other amendments that protected freedom, God’s justice, and our American way of life.
Before I continue, I would be remiss not to give a few shout outs and thank yous. First, a big shout out to all of you. I love you guys – and I love the great state of Illinois! I am so glad to be back here for a few days. Thank you for having me here today. I miss being here in the Land of Lincoln. Yet, I never forget you while I’m toiling for a better America while based in Washington DC.
A few more shout-outs and thank yous. Shout out and thanks to 1470 AM WMBD for having me on their airwaves twice this week. Thanks to Wayne and the Hot Finance Lady for having me on for a fun show yesterday. Thanks to Scott Robbins for another delightful time on his show earlier today. A special shout-out and thank you to my friend and fellow Christian conservative Sheila Devall. Like you, she understands that the heights of government mean nothing if they cannot heed the voice of the grassroots that form the foundation of this nation. Sheila, thanks for being a friend, thanks for having me back here in Peoria despite my recent move to the nation’s capital. I really do appreciate it.
I want to say thank you to a few groups as well. Thank you to Move On Up.org, the conservative-based group out of St. Louis. They will be hosting a fundraiser in Washington DC this Wednesday that will feature Congressman Allen West and several other prominent members within the political forum. Check out their website when you get a chance. I also want to shout-out organizations such as Don’t Shoot Peoria. Like other communities across the nation, this area is facing a crisis of unnecessary death and terror at the hands of urban violence. It is up to us as conservatives to protect the rights defended in the 2nd Amendment yet also defend the rights discussed in the Declaration of Independence: those rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That only comes with a strong defense of our constitutional rights and strong advocacy for safe schools and neighborhoods. Therefore, I commend organizations and citizens that understand this gentle but necessary balance of freedom and how it works for the sake of a stronger, safer nation.
I would fail the essence of today if I did not encourage us all to say thank you to the thousands of men and women…home and aboard…past and present…that have defended our Constitution by giving their time, resources, intellect, blood, sweat, tears…and sometimes even their very lives. From slain abolitionists to fallen ambassadors…on Constitution Day…we humbly say thank you.
Also, I would be remiss as a father and a husband if I did not acknowledge my ace – my wife Lannie, for her constant encouragement and love. Thank you Alicia and Peace – my two older children – for understanding the challenges and sacrifices they make in supporting my efforts as a humble, servant leader in a toxic political and social time. And thanks to my 2-year-old Neilan for simply being lovable.
We are here today to celebrate the greatness of the United States Constitution, a document that is held in much esteem throughout our land and modeled after – in some regards – by striving democracies throughout the world. Today is a day when our celebration and pride beams from being part of a history that encapsulates the best of freedom and advancement that the earth has ever seen. Yet, it is a day that calls for us to be true to the honesty of our history. It is a day that calls for us to be courageous, not complacent. It is a day for us to claim our humanity, even as we embrace our patriotism. Today is not the day to scrub clean the history surrounding the formation, passage, and amending of the Constitution. Swiping away the flaws from our nation’s forefathers ongoing search for a More Perfect Union only robs us of clues for navigating the flaws of today to establish a more prosperous and righteous nation in the days ahead.
In the 1700s, nation building was not easy work. It was not for the faint of heart. It was only for those willing to sacrifice any and all things necessary to form that more Perfect Union. They angered a king. They took on the empire of the world at that time. Yet, they envisioned a better future for themselves – and after tough times and bitter battles – Americans pressed onward.
In the 1800s, nation saving was not easy work. It was not for those sitting on the sidelines or afraid to fight for the concept of freedom and the continuation of these United States. There was a battle of ideas. There were battles between cousins. There was both liberation and loss of life among thousands of Black slaves. There were acts of treason and an act of assassination. Yet, they envisioned a stronger nation, a bolstered Constitution, and a land full of potential. After tough times and bitter battles – Americans pressed onward.
In the 20th century, nation elevation was not easy work. It was not for those that thought claiming the status of city on a hill included watching cities burn down in Oklahoma and throughout the south over racism or watching furnaces burn in concentration camps throughout Europe. There were confrontations with terrorists both domestic and abroad.
There were times when we stood our Constitution and the American Way of Life up against the Nazi Vision, the Soviet Bloc, and the Invisible Empire. The Constitution and its values – our values – battled toe-to-toe with ideologies. It went back and forth with statesmen and citizens alike because there is unlimited potential in liberating people from oppression both at home and abroad from unjust laws and unruly political systems. After tough times and bitter battles – Americans and lovers of freedom everywhere pressed onward.
And now, in this election year of 2012, when the distractions of political campaigns and social issues and super PAC advertisements are swirling around you faster than the newest crop of reality shows, we have work to do, particularly as we celebrate Constitution Day today. Nation RE-building in America today – as was the case with nation building, nation saving, and nation elevation – is not easy work. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those that seek to sit on the sidelines and hope for the best. It is not for those that love this country, but do not love it enough to live as an empowered, inspired, and active citizen of this country. It is an active lifestyle, not a spectator sport.
Constitution Day is not a day to merely celebrate the framers of our founding document. It is not a day to merely wave flags or debate the intent of obscure details of the Constitutional Convention or the subsequent language within the founding papers. Today is a day to remember the toils of the past that worked to shape, mold, amend, and strengthen the Constitution for the sake of a better America. Today is a day to remember that in our modern times, we have to choose this moment to embrace the spirit and longevity of the Constitution in order to rebuild the greatness of these United States – from the grassroots to the general assemblies throughout the land. We choose this moment to do so by way of the enduring principles that inspired our founding document and its amendments. Celebrating the Constitution today prompts us to accept the challenge of nation rebuilding for tomorrow…and ladies and gentlemen…my fellow Americans…nation rebuilding….as was the case with nation building, nation saving, and nation elevation in previous eras …is not for the faint of heart. Yet, it is for us to take on today to press America onward.
Those honored through acknowledging the Constitution today were people that understood the contemporary times in which they lived and the challenges that came with them. Today, we are called and inspired to take up their example.
As with times before, we Americans are facing a bevy of battles before us. We face the onslaught of big government thinking and coddling at the risk of watching the sunset of individual freedoms. We face the abolishment of the melting pot of America as we devolve back to judging each other based on stereotypes, hiring employees based on irrelevant and unjust factors, and personal merit based on culture, not content of character. We face the abyss of permanent fiscal sloth through the works of failing leadership and values, political selfishness, socioeconomic class animosity, and patriotism of convenience. As with eras from the past, it is time for us in this moment to press our fellow Americans onward through the embodiment and meaning found within the Constitution – from the Bill of Rights to subsequent, liberating amendments.
With complex documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, we can find simple yet profound principles that made the United States of America great, even as our history of imperfect people always continued the ongoing search for a more Perfect Union.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…”
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility… and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our descendents…”
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances….”
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race…and it shall not be denied or abridged…on account of sex…”
Complex documents written by lawyers and statesmen, wealthy men and historic figures. Yet, they were flawed human beings, pushed through conflict and dissension, anger and indignation, by grassroots Americans such as yourselves here today – all for the sake of procuring that more Perfect Union to press Americans onward.
The beauty in the history of our Constitution is the simplistic premise that it symbolizes. It protects the citizen from an expansion of government that would work to limit the freedoms of the individual. The spirit embodied in the Constitution always resonated that understanding – from the days immediately after fending off the tyranny of the King of England to the days of beating back the evil expansion of government known in the American South as Jim Crow.
Americans have always understood and taken on the battle that we face today: the battle of big government expansion of power versus individual liberty and limitless potential.
As a nation, we have always understood that smaller government that restraints the threat to liberty that big government creates is the pathway to empowering the most prosperous, diverse, innovative, and complete nation that the world has ever seen.
Smaller government and bigger people…an appropriate role of government and a larger role for Americans to forge a better future for us all….is the best way for our nation – and the only just way to rebuild this great land from Peoria to Pittsburgh, Harlem to Hollywood.
Yet, we see that the haughtiness of modern-day, big government politics has had a toxic impact on the fabric of our nation. We have seen the detachment of policies and politicians alike rip the nation at the seams through rhetoric and overreaching laws.
There’s an erroneous belief that government knows what’s best in all situations, from the passage of a healthcare law that compels the American people to involuntarily buy a product for the first time in American history…to the passage of a new health-related law in New York that compels Americans to not buy a product (not more than 16 ounces as a time, mind you).
It all yields the same result: we get to see the erosion of the mindset of American freedom right before our very eyes.
Big government can force us to drink pop and other carbonated drinks at only 16 ounces at a time if you live in New York City these days. Yet, it cannot force the nation to be healthier as a result. In fact, in the end, the reverse may be true. The movement of big government to mandate such a well-intended but improper directive from on high is a feeble notion that weakens the constitution of a people. It removes the sugar tooth of dietary intake and replaces it with cancers to self-accountability, self-reliance, self-determination, self-evaluation, self-improvement, and self-respect. Health is an internal essence, not a government commodity. A “one size fits all” way of advancing forward as Americans is not the best way to press onward as a better America. It is merely being progressive.
Big government can force us to not discriminate against other Americans based on race, gender, or cultural differences, but it cannot force us to heal as a nation through our diversity. For example, Tea Party members in Peoria and throughout Illinois have reached out repeatedly to members on different sides of political issues, hoping to prove through intent and action that political differences are not racial differences or differences in desired results. All sides want better schools. All sides want higher-skilled youth. All sides want safer communities. All sides want better jobs and self-perpetuating prosperity for years to come throughout all American communities. At times, the spirit of our Constitution – from disagreeing with each other through free speech to our Amendments protecting freedom across diversity – has been embraced. Tea Partiers and other community activists have sat down in shared dialogue and activism with each other as Americans. At other times, these opportunities have been needlessly rejected, either in a closed-minded fashion or an oversight of historical obligation. It is my hope and expressed desire that those in Peoria, those within our beloved Illinois, and those throughout the nation’s communities will be courageous and loving enough to understand the spirit of the Constitution and take a stance of hope and courage. I envision a time when they all will embrace the mantra of the bigger role of everyday people. Then, we all can take a larger role of individual responsibility to head off this looming social crisis amongst us, even as we collectively work to fend off the looming economic crisis we continue to wade through.
Take heed, my fellow Americans, and take courage, for nation rebuilding – as with framing our Constitution and upholding its principles therein - is not for the faint of heart.
Big government provides the promise and image of protection. That was the promise given by Nazi Germany. That was the promise given by the USSR. It is the promise given by communist China and embargoed Cuba. Yet, their governments ensnared their people. Our Constitution provides us protection – from big government, domestic foes to liberty, and geopolitical threats to civility and justice. It also provides us the empowerment necessary to make changes to protect liberty in an ever-changing nation without compromising or changing our definitions of American Exceptionalism, the American Dream, or the American Way of Life. Through that protection and empowerment, it is vital that we beat back the threat of big government against our economic survival and individual freedoms.
It is necessary that we confront the ideologies that fit politicians and favored special interest groups instead of favoring the diversity and potential of this immense and limitless nation. It is unavoidable that, together, we face down the fears within ourselves to sidestep the obligation we have to individual liberty in all facets of our lives – from reforming our politics in America to reviving the best methods to empower struggling communities throughout America. Our Constitution is a unique tool that embraces the most diverse population of the world, protects its citizens against suppression of their voices and their votes, and empowers us past the limits of prohibitive government. Through it, we can rebuild our nation and take America to another level of esteemed greatness for the rest of this century.
Yet, it will take us working and fighting for all of the right reasons, with love for our countrymen and insightful approaches to our endeavors. We must be passionate and prudent, courageous yet conscientious, for nation rebuilding – as was the case with nation building, nation saving, and nation elevation in eras past – is not easy work. It is not for the faint of heart.
We were already told this. We were told to be ready and be active from the founding days in 1776 on through. We were told that:
“…whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive …it is the Right of the People to alter it…laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to (a)ffect their Safety and Happiness…”
We were told that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We were told to stand for truth, no matter who tells it. We were told to be for justice, no matter who it is for or against.
We were told that we cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
And today, on Constitution Day, we face challenges that cannot escape the attention of our daily lives. Just the same, there is power within our Constitution and the government it formed – through the in-fighting at the convention in Philadelphia to the contention on the Congressional floor in Washington in the days since. We cannot allow that power to escape our focus and our motivations during our daily toils to rebuild this proud nation.
The American people, the American body politic, and even the American Constitution will never be perfect. Yet, through casting aside our faintness of heart, our revisionist history, our unwillingness to form new alliances, and our fears for the future, we can embrace the best that our Constitution upholds and empower ourselves to forge onward with a more Perfect Union.
By remembering that resolving our issues to improve our nation will come after the battles of ideas and bruising of egos, we understand today at a deeper level: that true freedom, freedom to be well-educated, liberated with economic opportunities, and protected from group-think policies and regressive ideologies…that freedom is truly never more than one generation away from extinction.
It is through the vigilant efforts of dedicated Americans that the freedoms afforded us today remain available and expand for future generations.
It is through the evergreen nature of the essence of our Constitution that the pathway to freedom can be traveled by Americans of all creeds and cultures equally and successfully.
It is through the flaws of conflict and strife , the blemishes of battles and the scars of our mistakes as children of God that we embrace that essence which sustains the Constitution and our ability to self-actualize our potential as a result of it. It is through it all that we walk together, pressing Americans onward in another step in becoming a more Perfect Union.
We do so with the Constitution in tow. We do so with the courage to toil with decorum and obligation for the sake of a better America in the days ahead. We do so, simply, because we know that nation rebuilding in America today – as was the case with nation building, nation saving, and nation elevation in days since gone – is not for the faint of heart. Yet, it is for us to take on, together – across race, class, cultural differences, and family backgrounds – starting today, on this wonderful Constitution Day here in Illinois.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today.
God Bless you. God Bless the state of Illinois,
And God Bless the United States of America.