Are You Scared of Liberty?


Since I am currently writing a musical about the Constitutional Convention, I am particularly aware of the debates by and feelings of the Founding Fathers as they struggled to create what would become the greatest document of the Age of Enlightenment.  And any inquiry will readily disclose that the Founding Fathers felt that the most important function of government was to protect individual liberties from government encroachment.  (The second most important function was to keep us safe from foreign nations and from each other.)  Furthermore, and to hammer the point home, the 9th Amendment to the Constitution says that enumerating some rights to the government does not deny other rights retained by the People, and the 10th Amendment mandates that all powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved for the States and the People.  In addition, pronouncements about the importance of Liberty are ubiquitous both from their times right up until the present.  For example, the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence addresses “Unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” the Preamble to the Constitution is designed to “Secure the Blessings of Liberty,” our Flag Salute ends “With Liberty and Justice for All,” and the word “LIBERTY” is written boldly on all of our coins.  So Liberty is in our genes.

                But today in so many ways we are only giving lip service to Liberty, and this would horrify the Founding Fathers.  Consider only how the federal government has taken control of our public education and healthcare systems.  You will search in vain for anything in the Constitution that delegates such power to the federal government, but we have allowed it to occur. There are two main reasons for this.  First, there is a natural tendency of government continually to increase its power, intrusion and funding.  Those increases in the federal government during the last several decades are unmistakable.  Second, many people are actually scared of Liberty, and the federal government promotes this fear.  For example, many people are conditioned to feel that they need the government to take care of them, i.e. they need the Nanny State.  Plus the government continues to harp upon such things as the dangers of terrorism, which can only be thwarted by us giving up a little bit more of our Liberties.  But the responses to each of those concerns are best set forth by the comments of Henry Ford, who said “Anyone who feels they can thrive by relying upon the government should talk to the American Indian,” and by Benjamin Franklin, who said “Any people who feel that they can gain a little more security by giving up a little more Liberty deserve neither.”  Of course, no system is perfect, but in deciding how to govern ourselves we should also listen to Milton Friedman who, in effect, said “If you feel that you can be protected by the so-called ‘Angels of Government,’ where have they been so far?  Why haven’t they yet come forward?”  In short, people generally act in their own self-interest, which basically means that we should trust ourselves more than we trust politicians.  So please consider this critically important situation.  If you do, I believe you will come to agree with the Founding Fathers, and stand up for Liberty!  And don’t be scared, because Liberty works!    

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President, along with
Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President