Just as we spend time every July 4th to celebrate our nation’s independence and remember what our founding fathers accomplished, we should also stop to consider our current situation and ask ourselves if it truly represents the principles they fought for.
With each passing year it seems that those who appreciate liberty are fighting a continual rear-guard action to maintain those principles. And, more often than not, those battles are waged against the very government the founders created in order to secure our liberty. Just as it had for them, government has become the problem.
This is no accidental occurrence. Government has become the problem because it has metastasized like a cancer due to the overt actions of those who want to use government to command the rest of us to live as they see fit. To, as Jefferson put it, “press us at last into one consolidated mass”, with them of course creating the mold into which we are all to be pressed. It is the antithesis of liberty.
By and large, the people responsible for this have a name: liberals.
They have accomplished this by building an entire political apparatus (the Democrat Party) around pandering to the selfish part of human nature that would rather receive than contribute; that leaves people satisfied to let someone else run their lives so long as they are given a base existence. They work to frighten that selfish nature with charges that conservatives want to deprive us of the fruits of the labor of others.
Conservatives, when they are doing things right, appeal to the side of human nature that desires liberty; that wishes to work and create as it pleases, spend as it pleases, and enjoy the benefits of it all without worrying about big brother.
Which of those two visions comes closer to what our founders believed? Which would they have been more likely to declare their independence from today?
A look at a recent Rasmussen survey sheds some light on the public opinions that helped bring us to where we are today. The poll surveyed over one-thousand Americans and gauged the current level of agreement with the ideals put forward in our Declaration of Independence and general opinions on government. The survey found that only sixty-six percent of Americans agree with the Declaration’s assertion that “governments derive their only just powers from the consent of the governed”.
When broken out by political affiliation, the results get more telling. Seventy-three percent of Republicans and political independents agree with that ideal, while only fifty-one percent of Democrats do – which explains a great deal when it comes to how Democrats justify an ever expanding government that is increasingly out of touch with “the governed”. Ronald Reagan once said that “we are a people with a government; not the other way around”. At least half of Democrats disagree.
The rise of government helps explain the poll’s other finding that more Americans see danger in a government that has grown too powerful, rather than feel that it is not powerful enough. The survey found that over half of Americans (53%) think that the federal government is more of a threat to individual liberties than it is a protector of them. Further, forty-five percent agreed with the following statement: “The gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them is now as big as the gap between the American colonies and England during the 18th century”.
So what is to be done? In short, nothing less than a renewed dedication to reclaim the principles enshrined in our Declaration of Independence. We must declare independence from big government.
We must commit (as the founders did) to fight against it and to sacrifice if necessary to defeat it. We must work to defund the government beast, denying liberals the use of our tax dollars to restrain our liberty, (the current debt crisis offers a prime opportunity). To oppose any policies that create further shackles for our liberties, as well as to overturn any such policies that currently exist – and to defeat any politicians that support them. Bill by bill, agency by agency, regulation by regulation, election by election, until the threat is dead – then maintain a permanent watch over its grave.
The legacy of our founding fathers is not just one of liberty and freedom, but one of participation. They got involved. They won their fight. It’s up to us to do the same.