"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
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Much has changed since Thomas Jefferson wrote these words in 1787. That they might never again need to seek revolutionary change through violent revolution, our fathers founded a governmental system where periodic upheavals fought on cannon-swept fields were replaced by political contests waged in regularly scheduled elections. Revolution was institutionalized and the weapons of the patriot - the musket ball and the bayonet - were replaced by the tools of the citizen - the ballot and the voting booth.
A great deal, however, has not changed. There are still those who would seek to subvert the rights of the people to their courtiers, their powerful friends or their own selfish ends. There are still those who would abuse authority granted by the people and turn the people's power back upon them. There are still those who, feeling themselves above our laws and our shared tradition, would corrupt democracy and subject the people to a grievous despotism. In short, there is still a need for patriots, for even freedom-loving democracies sometimes breed tyrants.
Gov. Murkowski has shown himself a tyrant:
He has claimed penury to co-opt the wealth of our elders, yet replaced it not in these days of prosperity - the Longevity Bonus.
He has stood in league with the corrupt and raised his confederates to positions from which they might more easily pursue corruption - Renkes and Ruedrich.
He has sought to create among us an aristocracy of the highborn - appointment of Ben Stevens to the state Senate.
He has sought to transform our solemn elective office into a hereditary title - appointment of his daughter to his vacated U.S. Senate seat.
He has cast aside true public servants, elevated through merit and loyal solely to our people and our laws, and replaced them with sycophantic hangers-on that are loyal only to himself - replacement of Commissioner Irwin with Menge.
Against their expressed will, he has used the people's monies to purchase for himself a chariot of the sky - the governor's jet.
He has placed the desires of a foreign power above the yearnings of his own people - the Canadian Mackenzie Pipeline before an Alaska gas line.
He has repeatedly "called together our legislative bodies for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures - two special sessions, already, and the threat of more.
He makes of himself a Machiavellian prince in a shameless attempt to retain his throne - "Maybe I should consider a personality transplant," from Murkowski's campaign advertisement.
And even now, he seeks to subjugate, in perpetuity, the hard won sovereignty and unmatched bounty that are every Alaskan's birthright to the capriciousness and avarice of multinational syndicates and a foreign lord - Murkowski's gas tax/gas line contract with ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and Lord John Brown's British Petroleum.
The Declaration of Independence states, "A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." And so too are any elected leaders who would aid him in such tyranny.
So look, Alaskans, and mark: There stands the tree of Alaskan liberty. It is starving and parched by bitter thirst, languishing beneath the dark clouds of Murkowski's tyranny. Stay your hand but a little longer, and, you - men and women who in their youth planted its seed and toiled from frozen north to southern sea that it might blossom and grow - may yet live to see it wither and die.
But it need not be so.
The tree of Alaskan liberty is hungry and thirsty, yes, but needs only a little tending so it may blossom forth anew. Democracy is its nutrient; the vigor of an engaged citizenry, the air and sunlight that make it grow.
This political season, feed the Tree of Alaskan Liberty the sustenance it most urgently requires: The electoral ballots of patriots and the political blood of tyrants.
Jomo L. Stewart is a political science graduate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is a former communications director for the Alaska Gasline Port Authority.
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