Orlando, San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Boston, and Fort Hood — America is under attack on our own soil. Bangladesh, Turkey, Brussels and Paris — nations all over the world are also under attack by the same enemy—radical Islam.
July 4, 1776, officially marks the day we declared our independence from British rule. The Fourth of July is a time to remember what it means to be an American and what those early Americans went through to win our independence and build the young Republic.
This Fourth of July, it’s particularly important to remember the main reason the states and the Founding Fathers came together to create the Republic in the first place — to “provide for the common defense” of our people as articulated in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Keeping America and her people safe and secure is the constitutional duty and chief responsibility of the Federal Government. Everything else is secondary.
Here in America, we are seeing the results of open borders and political correctness run amok. Thousands and thousands of illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico have been apprehended trying to enter the United States. These include individuals from countries such as Syria, Yemen, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan and Sudan. Further, some of these illegal aliens are people with Middle Eastern last names who adopted Hispanic last names before entering the United States.
Well, where are the ones we didn’t apprehend? Where are they today in America and what are they doing? And here in America, law enforcement officials are having their hands tied by federal bureaucrats in the name of political correctness. And our government and industry are almost always under some form of cyberattack by both Islamists and the Chinese. On top of all this, we have no land based missile defense on the entire east coast of the United States.
Yes, it’s important to remember this Fourth of July why we even have a federal government. As future President James Madison wrote in The Federalist Papers, “the operations of the federal government will be most important in times of war and danger.” President George Washington would later state, “the most effective means of preserving peace is to be prepared for war.”
So what’s been the response of our government to the security threats America is facing at home and abroad? Unfortunately, we’ve cut the Army to pre-World War II levels, have a Navy smaller than at any time since before World War I and have the smallest Air Force in history. Oh, by the way, we’ve also drastically cut our National Guard and reserve forces — our modern day militia that our Founding Fathers so strongly believed in.
In 1960, spending on defense and national security was 52 percent of the federal budget. Today it’s roughly 16 percent. Keeping America safe is a shared responsibility of both the President and the Congress.
As provided in Article 2, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution, “The President shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States.” Further, under Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, “The Congress shall have the power to . . . raise and support Armies . . . to provide and maintain a Navy.”
During America’s darkest hours, God has consistently blessed us with ordinary people, who do extraordinary things, including making the ultimate sacrifice to secure and maintain our freedom.
This Fourth of July, America faces a military readiness crisis, while the nation faces the most challenging security environment of our time. Our president and Congress must realize that their joint responsibility of ensuring that the Federal Government provides for the common defense of the American people is their most important constitutional duty.
Van Hipp is chairman of American Defense International, Inc. (ADI), a Washington, D.C. consulting firm. He is former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and served on the Presidential Electoral College in 1988. He is the author of “The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It.”