November Commander's Corner

Col. Brian Tenbrunsel, commander of the 169th Operations Group

Portrait of U.S. Air Force Col. Brian Tenbrunsel, commander of the 169th Operations Group at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina, October 6, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder, 169th Fighter Wing/Public Affairs)


We as Americans have been given more, and therefore have more to lose, than any nation in the history of the world. The foundation of America is rooted in the constitution, which in turn is grounded by liberty. Liberty is the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, so that the individual is free to live and act as they please. This idea of liberty led to the shots being fired in Lexington and Concord in 1775, the drafting of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the end of the revolutionary war in 1783, and the ratification of the Constitution in 1787. Two years into the new government George Washington wrote “The United States enjoy a scene of prosperity and tranquility under the new government that could hardly have been hoped for.”[1] It was the idea that liberty was derived from God given rights, that led the writers of the constitution to craft as what John Adams called “the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen.”[2] Many regarded the constitution and the new system of government as such an unprecedented political achievement in human history that it was nothing short of a miracle. George Washington said, “The Constitution…approaches nearer to perfection than any government hitherto instituted among men.”[3] W. Cleon Skousen writes about this period in his book, The 5000 Year Leap, A Miracle that Changed the World, as a period such that “in 200 years the human race had made a 5,000-year leap.”[4] The prosperity that ensued in America was unequaled in history and benefitted the entire world. Why?  Some would argue it is because we have the college football playoffs, barbecue, NASCAR, and bass fishing (and they would be right). Others would say “we are Americans, we are the greatest country ever”, and they would be right…the question is why?

After defeating the British, if America followed every case in history, the victors would enjoy the spoils of war to themselves. The leaders would assume complete control of what they had just conquered, and rule as they pleased. What we must understand is that the very first thing the founders of America did was to peacefully hand the power back to the people. This was unprecedented. In fact, revolutionary!  Why did they do this? Hard lessons were learned in the 180-year period leading up to the ratification of the constitution. The people were living in this new frontier with freedoms they had never imagined, yet at the same time suffered under the oppression of the British so far away. This dichotomy sparked their ideas. Skousen writes, “There was hardly a single idea which the American Founding Fathers put into their formula that someone hadn’t thought of before. However…none of those ideas were being substantially practiced anywhere in the world.”[5] Skousen states that there were 28 basic principles[6] that the founding fathers used that “produced the dynamic success formula witch provided such a sensational blessing to modern man.”[7] Here are some of the 28 basic principles: The people and leaders have to be a virtuous and moral people; the role of religion; the role of the Creator; all men are created equal; unalienable rights are endowed by the Creator; the government serves a sovereign people (not the other way around); the importance of a well-educated electorate; equal rights, not equal things.  These amazing principles were a quantum leap, yet it was not enough. With the addition of amendments such as the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, the Fourteenth Amendment providing universal rights to all citizens of the U.S., and the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments providing voting rights regardless of race or sex, though overdue, finally created a true, free nation. The free market that ensued unleashed the most unbelievable range of advancements human kind had ever seen. Electricity, the internal combustion engine, the automobile, the airplane, the jet engine, space travel, and nuclear energy were among the finest. We were on a roll!

Recently though, some seem to have lost the focus on liberty and the principles that formed our nation.   Just as adherence to these principles created prosperity, divorce from them has shattered civilizations. Social decay has negative effects and can actually stagnate, or reverse progress. In today’s society, many of the 28 principles are “fading into oblivion and scores of unnecessary problems have risen to plague humanity.”[8] As Skousen writes, “People are muddling their lives with drugs, riots, revolutions, and terrorism; predatory wars; merry-go-round marriages; organized crime; neglect and sometimes brutalized children; plateau intoxication, debt-ridden prosperity”[9] and other insanity. Many would not disagree. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”[10] For once corrupted, an ill-educated people will turn to the government to solve their problems, and vote their liberty away.

So what’s the fix? Well, that’s easy…and it’s not easy. The easy part is what to do, the hard part is doing it. The easy part is we do not have to spend another 180 years creating a miracle. It’s done. The hard part is teaching ourselves, our families, and those around us, why we should act and govern in certain ways. As a republic, we must live by the 28 principles, and demand that our leaders do as well.


[1] W. Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap, The 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World, (National Center for Constitutional Studies, 1991), p6.

[2] Ibid., iii.

[3] Ibid., iv.

[4] Ibid., p4.

[5] Ibid., p5.

[6] Ibid., xi.

[7] Ibid., p5.

[8] Ibid., p5.

[9] Ibid., p4.

[10] Ibid., p49.