- The Washington Times - Friday, March 3, 2000

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.
As the 21st century begins, Americans feel secure in unprecedented ways. Employment is high, infla-
tion is low, and no country has the military or economic power to challenge our leadership.
This surfeit of security is apparent in the presidential nomination campaigns. The most important issues are whether to use a budget surplus to pay prescription bills for the elderly, or pay off the national debt, or pump more money into underperforming educational bureaucracies, or to cut taxes.
Only one candidate has identified a "danger" soft money contributors to political campaigns.
Looking at our country through the lens of the campaigns, we do not see an endangered country. But if we look at the health of the principles that define us as a country, we are endangered.
The United States was created on the basis of principles. As a people, we are defined by individual rights, equality in law, a common identity and the security of property. All of these principles are eroding. Should the erosion continue, "We the People," like old soldiers, will fade away.
Individual rights have given way to group rights. The only point of group rights is to gain privileges that others don't have. Otherwise, there are no status-based rights that belong to special groups.
The civil rights movement began as an effort to obtain equal rights for all individual citizens. Today, it is a movement to preserve special privileges for "preferred minorities."
These group privileges mean the demise of individual rights, the demise of equality in law and the demise of a common identity. Just as the sons of earls could obtain places at Oxford and Cambridge at the expense of better-qualified commoners, in the United States today "preferred minorities" are assured university admissions at the expense of better-qualified candidates.
Preferential treatment in university admissions, employment, promotions and government contracts means that Americans who lack preferred status no longer have legal equality.
This breech of legal equality is further opened by the advent of "hate crimes" and "hate speech," offenses that can only be committed by nonpreferred white heterosexual males.
The demise of equal individual rights means the demise of common identity. Being a member of a preferred group is more important than being an American.
Property in the United States has not been secure since the advent of income and estate taxation. In recent years, legal protection of property also lost sway to the rights of endangered species. The Constitution prevents the taking of property without compensation, but that prohibition is routinely ignored in the interest of causes that federal regulators have elevated above the sanctity of property.
Americans have lost sight of themselves as a people. We are being splintered in the interest of political power based on privilege the exact opposite of the principles of the American Revolution.
Neither George W. Bush, John McCain, Al Gore nor Bill Bradley is proposing to refurbish the principles that unite us. The task of reunification has fallen to a concert pianist, a refugee from communism and its division of citizens into unequal legal classes.
On Feb. 28, Balint Vazsonyi launched his national bus tour to Re-Elect America in Florida's state capital of Tallahassee. Florida's lieutenant governor addressed the gathering, as did Florida state Rep. Jerry Melvin and Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox. Scholars at Florida State University and the James Madison Institute debated the health of our founding principles, and a public forum was held at city hall.
Between now and July 4, when his bus tour will end in Philadelphia, Mr. Vazsonyi will take Re-Elect America to 50 state capitals. This is commitment on a heroic scale. Support it. Contact the Center for the American Founding in Washington (www.founding.org), and find out when the Re-Elect America tour arrives in your state capital.
Mr. Vazonyi's leadership gives us a rare opportunity to focus politicians on America's uniting principles, instead of divisive issues. We cannot remain one people with good will toward each other unless we put an end to the division of our country into interest groups that respond to grievances and pursue privileges.

Paul Craig Roberts is a columnist for The Washington Times and is nationally syndicated.

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