For too long we have stood by as liberty has been eroded and dependency has been encouraged. When a 26-year-old can be considered a dependent of his parents for health care or anything else, dependency has taken hold, liberty has waned and responsibility has vanished.
Henceforth and forevermore, I will vote only for candidates whose undergirding purpose is to perpetuate liberty. Whether president or sheriff, I’ll want to know to what extent the candidate will defend and promote liberty.
One doesn’t have to wear the Libertarian tag to view candidates this way. There was a time when our two major parties cradled and guarded liberty. The reason for the rise of libertarian voices is the creeping departure from the liberty envisioned by the signers of The Declaration. That departure is no longer creeping; it’s bolting.
Government today takes an interest in our food, drink, medicine, eating habits, property, air, insurance, our weight, our children’s lunches, our thoughts (think “hate crimes”) and certainly our pay checks. Some call it overreach, but it’s tyranny. By any name, it constitutes intrusion, inhibition of initiative and abridgement of freedom.
There are many voters who have never aligned themselves with the Libertarian Party, instead viewing libertarianism (not libertinism) as a strain fitly falling within the pale of representative republicanism. Truth be known, the Declaration signers — radicals all — were closer to what libertarians are espousing today than they were to what our two major parties have become: guardians of a regulatory state.
It was a Republican administration that gave us the Environmental Protection Agency, that nemesis of small and big business alike. It was a Democratic administration that gave us the Department of Education which, though just a paper tiger, is still able to woo state officials into accepting its millions, on the paper tiger’s terms of course. (Think Common Core.)
It was a Republican administration that gave us No Child Left Behind, turning the joyous magic of teaching and learning into test preparation, data collecting and autopsy reporting. It was Democrats (only) that gave us the indecipherable, unaffordable Affordable Care Act.
So what do we have? Two major parties that offer an echo, not a choice; that possess little will or desire to seriously check government’s expansion and power, and that differ more in degree than in principle.
The signers believed in the rule of law, but they hated monarchy. They believed in government, but they experienced and disdained its long arm. It irked them to know their tyrant was an entire ocean away. Is it hard, then, to understand why many modern Americans, sons and daughters of a frontier people in a vast continental nation, would eventually turn their thoughts to the strong symbolism of the Boston Tea Party? America’s preference for localism is longstanding.
The signers also knew that rules are the price we pay for civilization, yet they fashioned a document that drew a hedge around the rules. In so doing, they posed the question, “Is man made for government, or is government made for man?” The resulting balance was brilliant, and the document still stands, but from all indications, administrations from both parties have allowed it to gather dust.
British monarchy was to the signers what the IRS, EPA, DOE, BLM and literally hundreds of other agencies are to Americans today. King George ruled with scepter and sword. American presidents rule with faceless agencies that harass, threaten and discriminate. The mess at the VA, the IRS, plus Obamacare, all clearly illustrates how government by bureaucracy infringes upon liberty.
Liberty is a precious thing. For millennia, illiterate masses knew nothing of it. Peasantry was the norm. Melancholy was the order of the day. In ancient Egypt, China, Greece and Rome, forced labor built the edifices that freedom-loving tourists enjoy today. Actually, liberty is still a newfangled idea.
It was the ancient Jews who developed the concept that priests and kings were subject to a law higher than man’s. It was Greek dramatist Sophocles who placed on the lips of his heroine, Antigone, the following words when she had to defy her earthly king:
“Your edict, King, was strong.
But all your strength is weakness against
The immortal laws of God.
His laws are not merely now; they were and are
Operative forever, beyond man, utterly.”
The concerns of libertarians should give us pause. An understanding of liberty’s short history should heighten this week’s celebrating and inform this year’s voting.
Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher in Kennesaw.