To take measure of the progress of our country, the status of our freedom is the only fair litmus test. It’s the basis of the founding of America. We’ve lived under its umbrella for 234 years now. If you truly want to see how far we’ve come, or regressed, this is the only way to go. Sure, there are plenty of other issues that deserve merit. Civil rights. Technological advances. The industrial revolution. Life expectancy. I could go on and on, but these can’t be used as a scale for our progress. Why? Because many of these were developed under rule of a tyrant. Russia would be the best example. Certainly not in civil rights, but in other areas they have excelled. Don’t forget they beat us into space! So achievements in these areas are great for mankind, but are no reflection of how free a country is.
What is most important for the future of our country is liberty. Let it erode away enough, and we will eventually cease to exist. It is an issue reaching a critical stage. Those who wish to steal liberty away have done so in a very tempered, measured manner for a very long time. Incrementally doing so ensures that they can mask their true intentions. Usually it is done in time of crisis. We are far more willing to forego certain freedoms under the auspices of safety and security.It could be economically in the form of legislation such as TARP. It could be security in the form of the Patriot Act. We respond to violent criminal acts with the ceding of personal freedom such as gun ownership. If you even question the motives of government under some of the crisis events that have occurred, you are quickly branded a kook or conspiracy theorist. Yet, virtually every major crisis to beset our country has resulted in more liberty being stripped away, and usually voluntarily.
No doubt you can find various interpretations of what liberty means. The latin word libertas is the genesis of the word liberty. It meant unbounded or unrestricted. That is it in its most simplistic form. It has subsequently had many tags attached to it. Liberty in the eyes of the Founders was much different from how it is viewed by many today. Liberty was not a new idea born on July 4th, 1776. Liberty was a part of America for over 170 years prior to this date. It was the motto of the settlers of this country. They lived it everyday. This is true liberty in its purest form. It simply existed without proclamation. This is the true spirit of America.We probably can’t even envision what it must feel like to have that sense of freedom today.
Liberty has a greatly diminished threshold today. It is considered freedom to choose which channel we watch on tv. Or deciding what type of car we drive although that freedom is looking to vanish as well. Freedom to make certain choices on a daily basis is only a small portion of liberty. We have been dumbed down sufficiently in this country to accept a lower standard. Each succeeding generation accepts less. Some may so that the youth today are revolting to a certain extent via personal expression. The clothes they wear. Tattoos. Hair color. However, the intent here is not the same. They do these things in an attempt to gain attention rather than deflect it. They want acceptance and to fit in. Standing out in a crowd is actually a way of fitting into it. The difference between that type of thinking and that of the early settlers is stark. The settlers wanted to be different but without acknowledgement or praise. They simply wanted to be left alone and live as individuals as they saw fit. Self-responsibility and accountability were tremendous virtues.
Today we are conditioned quite differently. More and more, we are becoming dependent on our government. Government continues to position itself as the provider. We need them for everyday, basic needs. Obama has been very clear on his intentions. Very clear. Right from the beginning. Yet, people don’t take his entire message in context. Soaring rhetoric and very generalized promises can easily sway the masses. ‘Take back our country for the American people’. There’s one we hear quite a bit. Politicians are masters of telling us what we want to hear. They do all they can to appear that are there for the sole purpose of working for us. VP Joe Biden just made a statement declaring that every major achievement in our history was either because of government directly or enabled by government. These people truly believe this type of arrogant garbage.
The U.S. Constitution was enacted to strictly limit the scope of power our government has. Checks and balances were put in place and power was distributed amongst the three branches. Only powers specified were granted to the federal government. All others were delegated to the states or the people. That was then. Today, the entire landscape has changed dramatically. Throughout the years, the erosion of the balance of power and the scope of it has been changed. The courts have become activist and politicized. The executive branch has utilized a variety of tools such as executive orders in which to sidestep the normal processes. The legislature has always been partisan as it was intended. Congress has worked in tandem with the courts to grab additional authority by way of broad interpretation of rules such as the commerce clause to enact legislation that directly contradicts the Constitution.
Regulation is a key component in stripping away our rights. It’s the perfect cover to use because everything is always done in the interest of us. Or so we’re told. Protecting the planet, the water, the air, the soil. Who can argue with that? When government can appear to right there working to protect us, we will gladly let in impose virtually any level of control. As long as it’s for us. The cars we drive, the food we eat, even the clothes we wear, we love the idea of big brother being in control. As I stated previously, they do it in baby steps and do a great job selling it.
The Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were all a rebuke of tyranny. Tyranny is the opposite of liberty. The two can’t co-exist. We still see today how difficult it is to convince the general public what living under tyranny is. Just mention the word socialism or fascism or Marxism or communism and be prepared to be attacked and labeled a right-wing extremist. That’s an interesting label because the right has played a very prominent role in stripping away our liberties as well. They are hardly the protector of individual rights and personal freedoms. The right is always attached to the pro-war movement, yet all of the previous major conflicts prior to the Iraq War have been led by the left. Under the constant threat of conflict from straw men across the globe has enabled government to control both finances as well as liberty.
By any measure, we now live under a shadow of what liberty once was. Everything is relative and we accept a much lower standard to still call us free. The Constitution is now called outdated. We are told our society has evolved and that the principles outlined in the Constitution no longer apply to a modern society. All of these scenarios were pre-warned by the Founders. They wrote it down. They relayed it in speeches. This is why many are so incredulous that this is happening to our country today. The warnings were issued and history has shown us that the template has been followed to a tee. Of course, today we have an astounding wealth of information at our fingertips about the subject, yet it is still a debate.
The possibility remains of reversing course through traditional methods. Mainly electing representatives that hold the view of strong individual rights and limited government. It would take a long time and face major challenges. Those that have benefitted from the current system would fight tooth and nail to hold on to power. They also have the ability to create conditions that require government to step in and take control. We are talking about changing the mindset of entire generations of Americans. A monumental task. Convincing them that they are much better off long-term without the chains of government. It will absolutely create hardship for many. No pain, no gain.
Liberty will never exist unmolested. The more free we are, the more some will want to take it away. It was never a matter of declaring it and just being done with it. So many of us have no concept of what true liberty is or ever was. But you can’t have liberty-lite. It won’t stick around. It must be a pillar and we must defend it in totality. There exists the possibility of ‘re-taking’ it through violent revolution. The oxy-moron basically explains the chances aren’t good. Revolting against a tyrant is easy. Revolting against your own is fraught with peril. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which we would emerge on the other side of a bloodbath with liberty resurrected. No doubt the make-up of the country can be drastically changed under such a scenario, but to think it will lead to peace and greater freedom is highly unlikely.
So what is the bottom line? Our liberty has been so greatly eroded that we may lose it completely. We may be a free country in relation to others around the globe, but the actions underway are undermining it everyday. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where it’s heading. Education is certainly a big part of the solution. Not just stating that we need to be free, but explaining what true freedom entails. History truly is a valuable guide and we need to take full advantage of it. If we don’t learn to value our freedom and live our lives dedicated to preserving it, it will be taken away. Then the only option left is war and no one can ever predict the outcome of that.