Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Now that Citizens in Charge Foundation has given the John Lilburne Award to ten defenders of petition rights — most recently, to Oregon State Senator Vicki Walker — it seems time to talk to friends of Common Sense about the award and about Mr. Lilburne.

I founded Citizens in Charge Foundation to help put citizens in control of their own government. Voting for elected officials is one important means of doing that. But it’s not enough to prevent career politicians from ganging up on us and often ruthlessly stomping our liberties. We need ways to produce a better political result when politicians stonewall. That’s why Citizens in Charge Foundation promotes the right of initiative and referendum.

John Lilburne was a 17th-century political activist who pioneered the use of petitioning and referendums to redress governmental abuse of power. He was a leader of a radical democratic movement called the Levelers during the time of the English Civil War. He advocated religious liberty, wider suffrage, and equality before the law.

Critics saw Lilburne and his allies as trying to bring everybody down to the same level. Hence the label Levelers, intended to be pejorative. I view Lilburne as trying to bring everybody up to the same level — of democratic rights.

Each month, the Citizens in Charge Foundation gives the John Lilburne Award to a person who is particularly praiseworthy in pursuing the same goal.

So here’s to John Lilburne — a champion of the rights of everyday citizens.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. voxoreason says:

    There is a statement about “levelers” that they are perfectly willing to “level” those above them DOWN to their level, but not to “level” those below them UP to their level.

    I gather from this column that turnabout is fair play.

    Good enough! People should remember this when “a level playing field” (especially when leveled by powerful politicos) is discussed.

  2. Ginny Rober says:

    Dear Paul, I’ve been idly appreciating your wisdom for about 20 years. You’ve finally moved me to action. Today I committed to two like-minded taxpayers in my local paper to draft a proposal for a New York State Citizen Initiative and send it to my state senator and assemblywoman for introduction into both houses of the Albany legislature. I’ll send a copy of it to my local paper for publication and reader response, too. Thanks for lighting the fire under me, Paul.

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