John Adams, like Barney Fife, saw but one rational response to approaching dangers: nip it in the bud. Writing to the residents of Massachusetts in 1775, he (Adams, not Fife) had this to say about Britain’s “long train of abuses and usurpations”:
Obsta principiis, nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. When the people give way, their deceivers, betrayers, and destroyers press upon them so fast, that there is no resisting afterwards.
Obsta principiis – Resist the beginnings.
Unfortunately, arbitrary power has grown far beyond the shoots. For too long, the American people have given way, to the point where virtually all resistance ceased for many decades.
Groups like the TEA party movement represent an attempt to take a metaphorical machete to the tangled jungle of unconstitutional government. It may be too late, but let history record that someone recognized the peril and at least tried to reverse it.