Tag: Virginia

George Mason: The Forgotten Founding Father

Kevin D’Amato | United States

Since the founding of the United States, there has been a strong veneration associated with the founding fathers, the group men who convened to write, discuss and sign documents such as the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. I would say the praise is largely justifiable; the founding fathers played a key role in creating the modern western state. Their genius stemmed from their impeccable knowledge of history and rigorous study of philosophy. Influences for this new, great experiment ranged throughout thousands of years and included:

  • The Roman Republic
  • The Magna Carta
  • Social Contract Theory
  • John Locke’s Natural Rights Theory

With that being said, common knowledge surrounding the early years of our country is rudimentary. Children are brought up idolizing founders like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. However, most simply do not know a majority of those influential men in “The Room Where it Happened”. While I don’t discount the importance of well-known founders, I believe there is something missing in the education of the average student. I wish to take you on a journey through time to learn about the forgotten icons who deserve your attention.

Who is George Mason?

George Mason IV was born as a farm boy in modern Fairfax County, Virginia on December 11th, 1725 to father George Mason III and mother Ann Stevens Thomson. At the age of 10, George Mason’s father died. From then on, his mother and uncle, John Mercer, raised him. Mason thus gained exposure to Mercer’s large library, which had a large impact on his curiosity and intellect.

From an early age, Mason had an interest in public life. He served as a vestryman for his parish and a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Beyond this, Mason was forming his life alongside his wife Ann Eilbeck (with whom he would have 12 children with). At his home, Gunston Hall, he grew crops such as tobacco and wheat.

As tensions between Great Britain and the colonies began to form, Mason became a leader of the Virginia Patriots and eventually wrote the Virginia Constitution in 1776. George Mason ending up being a Representative for Virginia for the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

On October 7, 1792, after struggling with illness all his life, George Mason IV passed away at the age of 66. He had long lived with gout, but historians believe he died of additional ailments following a chest cold.

Founder or Framer?

At this point, you may be asking an important question. If George Mason attended the Constitutional Convention, why do so many people not know him?

The answer lies in what occurred at the convention itself.

Out of the 55 delegates in attendance, ultimately only 39 signed the Constitution; George Mason did not.

While writing Virginia’s Constitution (1776), George Mason made a point of expressing individuals rights up front and keeping government as localized as possible. This model was used by many other states, but not exemplified to Mason’s wishes in the U.S. Constitution. Along with his gripes over government power, Mason vehemently opposed continuing the Atlantic Slave Trade, calling it “disgraceful to mankind”, despite owning slaves himself.

These grievances began to add up and hold Mason from signing the final version of the Constitution. Because of that decision, he will forever be known as a framer, not a founder.

The Significance of George Mason

George Mason’s principled stances for what he believed in makes him one of the most important figures in American history.

First, his argument against slavery was ahead of its time. To have the courage to speak out against slavery as a beneficiary is bold. If the Constitution had abolished slavery, George Mason would only lose wealth, yet he argued for it.

Second, without his stand against the original Constitution, we may have never gotten the Bill of Rights. The first 10 amendments covered a majority of Mason’s problems with the original document. We live in a better country because of them.

Third, Mason’s statements in regards to the Bill of Rights, specifically the 2nd Amendment, provide a strong backbone to the argument behind the preservation of the document. Mason repeatedly talked about the importance of these rights for all Americans.

I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.

George Mason’s Legacy

Although he does not receive the credit that he deserves, George Mason lives on in one major way. Near his home in Fairfax, Virginia is George Mason University, the largest public research institution in the state.

With the announcement of Amazon’s new headquarters location in Northern Virginia, the school shows no signs to stop its rapid growth. The school’s success definitely does justice to its namesake.

Even though traditional schools won’t give Mason his share of respect, it won’t prevent the intellectual world from continuing to discuss him. By remembering that education truly never ends, we are reminded that the possibility of knowledge is limitless.


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Amazon Selects New York City and Northern Virginia as New HQ2 Locations

By Max Bibeau | USA

After months of city bidding, Amazon has finally selected its HQ2 locations, as reported by the New York Times. The new headquarters will appear in New York City and Crystal City, bringing with it an estimated $5 billion in investment and 50,000 new jobs.

These selections come as a surprise to many, as previous analytics, such as Bank of America’s, found cities like Washington DC, Boston, and Atlanta to be much better contenders for the new HQ.

The decision comes after months of intense bidding from cities across the country, including tax cuts and subsidies. It’s no secret that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was extremely interested in attracting the HQ to New York, even jokingly offering to change his name to Amazon Cuomo “if that’s what it takes.”

While Cuomo will get to keep his birth name, the city is offering upwards of 1.5 billion in direct subsidies and tax cuts in exchange for Amazon’s HQ.

Crystal City’s incentives, however, are much less publicized, being drafted and proposed behind closed doors. While we can imagine the immense bargaining that must have taken place, it is not currently known what Virginia offered Amazon, outside of a booming location with a highly educated workforce. 

It’s unsure when exactly construction on the new HQs will begin, but after the selection of the cities, it is likely Amazon will waste no time in beginning the process. The new HQs should be a huge boon for both New York and Virginia, providing a huge economic stimulus to both regions.


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71R Exclusive: Interview with Virginia Libertarian Senate Candidate Matt Waters

By Michael Sutherland | United States

Matt Waters is running for Senator of Virginia as a Libertarian. His opponents are Democrat incumbent Tim Kaine and Republican Corey Stewart. Waters comes from a long line of Virginians and is dedicated to defending civil liberties and being fiscally responsible. He recently talked with 71 Republic’s Michael Sutherland about his campaign and beliefs.

Sutherland: If you become Senator, what will be your first priorities?

Waters: We have to reduce the debt. That is priority number one. Our debt is the greatest existential threat to the future of our republic.  To get there, I will introduce multiple bills to eliminate, privatize, freeze, and reduce government spending–based on the Constitution.  So, for example, nowhere in the Constitution does the US gov’t have a role in education.  Further, we need to end foreign aid, freeze defense spending, bring troops home from overseas (we’re not supposed to have a standing army, much less one standing in over 150 countries).  So, ending forward facing bases and moving to a defense powered by Naval power. The second part is moving “entitlements” (that no one is entitled to) to the public sector. This will take 10-15 years, but will ultimately get the government out of the retirement business and the healthcare business. Ending the Dept of Education gets the govt out of the education business. Ending Student Loan programs (that are driving up the cost of a college education) gets the government out of the banking business. Bottom line: we’re broke. We cannot afford to police the world or operate a 1933 retirement program in 2018. Time to move up and move on.

Sutherland: Briefly describe your positions.

Waters: Money = Freedom.  Average taxpayer works from Jan 1 thru April 18 to pay federal, state and local taxes. That is more than the average taxpayer pays in groceries, clothing, and housing combined.  By “giving taxpayers” “free” college, “free” healthcare, and mandatory federal jobs–Democrats and Republicans must take more of our money. The more money they take–and they take it–the less you have and the less freedom you have to do things. If we “get” “free” education, all of our income through May/June will go to the government. Is that really what we want?

Sutherland: What made you become a libertarian?

Waters: The idea of liberty. Our forefathers came to Jamestown in 1607 to set up an independent colony. That blossomed into an independent republic with the surrender of British troops just down the road at Yorktown.  America’s greatest export is liberty–an idea. Not music (British), not food (French?), not fast cars (Italy?).  People know us for liberty–freedom of individuals to do as they please without interference from the government. Today, however, all that has changed, and we are worse off. America policy over the last 70 years has been a catastrophe. Since WW2, we have lost 50,000 troops in Vietnam, and 50,000+ troops in Korea — not “wars” declared by Congress — but unconstitutional “conflicts” declared by two failed Presidents. Today we’re still playing war games in Korea. We’re still at war with Korea. End the 68-year Korean conflict now. But while the Congress failed to declare war in Vietnam and Korea, they did boldly declare a war on poverty.  Results? Billions of dollars later: Fail. They did declare a war on drugs. The result? Billions of dollars later: Fail.  They did declare a war on terror. The result, $5.7 trillion later? Fail. Next, we will declare war on plastic drinking straws…oh wait..there are some who are declaring war on those!  But you get my drift.

Sutherland: What areas of Virginia do you think you’ll be the most successful in?

Waters: Hopefully tax reform, smart military spending and budgets aimed at warfare, not politics, protecting other countries, and staying out of everyone else’s business. And “entitlement” reforms–ending social security as we know it, making it a real retirement system to today’s workers.

Sutherland: What are the best ways to expand/popularize the Libertarian Party?

Waters: Be reasonable. To lead with legalizing pot, prostitution and porn are just not where most Americans are. In the margins of a free society, a lot of crap like that will go down. But it does not mean we get out there and lead with that nonsense. No parent wants their child in any one of those industries. We need to get back to basics and do limited government, free markets, capitalism, and individual liberty. Reagan said that behind every “good” conservative stood a libertarian. Reagan was right.

Sutherland: Any final thoughts for the readers?

Waters: Check out my website, MattWaters.com and make a decision in November to do something different: refuse to do the same-old-same-old.  Change won’t happen that way. Vote Libertarian.


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How #GoldRush2018 Could Save the Supreme Court

By John Keller | USA

Following the retirement of SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Republicans and the Democrats are locked in a battle of wills over who will be the nominee to fill Kennedy’s seat. The current partisan makeup of the Senate is 51-49, with the Republicans having the narrow majority. Mitch McConnell and head Republicans went “nuclear” in 2017, changing the votes required for nomination of a Justice from 60 to a simple majority, in order to get Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. These new rules allows for hyper partisan justices who are favored by the majority party in the Senate to be nominated.

The Republican Party may be waiting to nominate a Justice until the midterm elections this November in order to use the nomination process as a political weapon to get people out and vote Republican. The Republicans used a similar tactic in 2016, blocking President Obama’s nomination, Merrick Garland, for 293 days until President Trump could nominate Neil Gorsuch.

Voting Libertarian could save the Supreme Court from extreme partisanship. Should just two Libertarians be elected to the Senate, a 49-49-2 composition of parties would be created in the Senate, preventing any nomination that would be decided based on ideological differences and party politics. It would also allow for a return to nominating a Justice who would base their rulings on the constitution, rather than partisanship, just as Justice Anthony Kennedy had done. Justice Kennedy was a swing voter on the court, meaning he didn’t use his ideology as a basis for his rulings, but rather the Constitution.

This upcoming election could be critical in determining if the United States will have a partisan court or a non-partisan court that chooses to prioritize the Constitution rather than political opinion in its rulings. Two options can save the court: voting for Libertarians, such as Matt Waters (L-VA), or by “denuclearizing” the Senate and justices are confirmed. “Denuclearization” would mean a return to requiring sixty votes to confirm a Supreme Court Justice – a change that won’t come voting Republican or Democrat. Only the introduction of a third party to the Senate can prevent a partisan Supreme Court and begin the process of “denuclearizing” the Supreme Court Justice nomination process.


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The Surveillance State’s Iron Grip is Tightening

By Willie Johnson | United States

Americans today face a world of rapidly accelerating technological innovations, but this progress is a double-edged sword. While it has increased the comfort and convenience of those living on the first world, it has also increased the powers of the state and allowed the private sector to intrude upon the lives of common people. There are few ways that these two extremely powerful facets of society independently work towards a common goal. However, both are getting better at gathering and utilizing the information of the people. With this, it’s not hard to see the irony in the U.S. government putting the founder of Facebook on trial.

The evidence of this expanding system of monitoring is all around us, and it’s not just the worryingly extensive network of security cameras in urban areas across the globe; from the use of targeted ads (clearly the result of your search history being fed into an algorithm) to the realization that most online communications can be viewed in vivid detail by the NSA (in the name of security, of course), complete privacy seems like a nearly impossible goal. Small steps such as using a flip phone and placing tape over webcams can certainly lower one’s profile, but any connection to the conveniences of the modern word comes with a catch―giving up your personal information to organizations that don’t always have your best interests in mind.

A key difference between most public and private monitoring systems are motive and consent, both of which are vital in determining the extent to which a person’s private information can be breached. While search engines and social media companies often use the content they gather to make a profit (usually by selling it to advertisers), in many cases, they do so with the unwitting consent of the individual through impossibly long and complicated terms of service agreements. In signing these, most people are either too ignorant to realize what they are giving up or willing to sacrifice security for convenience; there are few alternatives for those in the latter category anyways.

On the other hand, government surveillance on all levels presents a much greater threat. It’s no revelation that there’s an inherent danger in a powerful federal organization infringing upon the privacy of its citizens as ours is so famous for doing. What most people need to be reminded of, however, is the monitoring that takes place on the state, local, and municipal scale. The highly publicized data leaks by the likes of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are easy to latch onto, but it’s important to consider the implications of the smaller, seemingly harmless cameras used to monitor traffic and common areas present in all towns great and small.

With that in mind, it’s also alarming to know that in several cities such as Charleston, West Virginia, governments have cooperated with local businesses to install security cameras in areas with high pedestrian traffic. Although this seems like a small, mostly inconsequential change, it represents a fusion of the two greatest threats to privacy in the world today. A combination of the innate ability of private companies to coerce customers into signing over their rights and the extreme data-gathering capabilities of U.S. government could usher in a ‘surveillance state’ more powerful than ever.

It is man, not machine, however, that is ultimately responsible for these problems. New and better technology has certainly made it easier for the parties in question to access online data, but the human tendency of sacrificing freedom for security and morality for personal gain can be blamed for the existence of the current structures of surveillance in place around the world today. Those who blame innovation for society’s issues are railing against the inevitable, and against a facet of our nature that has proven to be more beneficial than harmful to humanity as a whole.

The bottom line is, we should be mindful of any invasion of privacy in order to safeguard what little true solitude Americans have left. Every law-abiding citizen should have the rights to their own personal information and how it is utilized, but it’s likely that things will have to get whole lot worse before they get better. It is the American people who must decide when they’ve had enough. Only time will tell when that breaking point is reached, but in the meantime, the expanding powers of the state push us ever closer each day.

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