Where have you gone, Thomas Jefferson?

The modern Democratic Party claims its origins in the Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson, our third President. As I see our country being rushed by the Democrats toward expanded government, excessive taxation and restricted liberty while Republicans offer tepid resistance, I think this is a good time to explore the words of President Jefferson and challenge ourselves to defend the principles for which Thomas Jefferson stood. Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and central to the vision propagated by Jefferson and the Founding Fathers was the concept of inalienable rights with which all people are endowed and which are not a gift of man to be granted or taken away. Jefferson believed government exists solely at our consent to defend those rights and when it fails, "it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government."

Thomas Jefferson declared life to be the first inalienable right, not only in the Declaration of Independence but in his letters, declaring "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government." Today's Democratic Party, however, has as a cornerstone of its political creed the killing of unborn human life so the "quality of life" for other human beings is preserved.

Jefferson also said "To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical," yet hundreds of millions of our tax dollars fund Planned Parenthood, the nation's premier operator of abortuaries.

Thomas Jefferson advocated limited government, believing "most bad government results from too much government." He promoted transparency in government spending, saying "The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our money for unexplained projects forbids it in the disposition of the public moneys."

What would Jefferson have thought of the Democratic Party's expansion of government, from the New Deal to the Great Society and now "New Deal 2.0" being quietly drawn up in anticipation of their party controlling the federal government in 2009? Would it anger him that over 30 percent of the nation's income is devoted to paying taxes, forcing Americans to work nearly four months just to pay off the government? Would he have endorsed earmarks, those pernicious projects stealthily inserted into spending bills to protect the incumbency of their sponsors?

Thomas Jefferson was a defender of the citizen's right to bear arms. In his "commonplace book," a scrapbook containing statements and other items of interest to the book's owner, Jefferson included the following from Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria, an Italian philosopher:

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

Would he endorse the Democratic Party's attempts to wrest guns from law-abiding citizens and their belief that gun owners, to paraphrase Senator Joe Biden, ought to have their heads examined or, in Senator Obama's words, are "bitter"?

Thomas Jefferson, our nation's most eloquent and passionate defender of liberty, wouldn't recognize the party that claims to be his. In their unabashed faith in big government, condescension toward the people, commitment to income redistribution, and selective interpretation of our natural rights as human beings and American citizens, the Democrats have abandoned Thomas Jefferson's legacy.

Jefferson said, "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive." Friends, he's talking to us today. Don't let the press drumbeat of certain defeat keep you home; Jefferson declared "As for what is not true, you will always find abundance in the newspapers." It's up to us to keep America "a free government" whose example will "ameliorate the condition of man over a great portion of the globe." Unlike the liberals who want the United States to be more like Europe, embrace Jefferson's belief in America as "a standing monument and example for the aim and imitation of the people of other countries."

Meanwhile, as the Democrats sit on Capitol Hill and deliberate endlessly, I leave you with one of my favorite Thomas Jefferson quotes:

"If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour?"