DO YOU KNOW WHAT FREEDOM IS?
A special commentary from United States Senator Jim DeMint
A few months ago, I was on CNN talking about the future of the Republican Party. As I always do, I predicted that we could certainly regain our national majority, if we first rally around our great, unifying principle of freedom. The anchor cut me off: “What the h--- does that mean? … Freedom?”
Anyone wondering why America is losing its freedom can find an answer in that question. After all, how can we preserve and defend freedom if we don’t even know what it is? To help remind Americans of our shared heritage of freedom and to rally them to reclaim that heritage for ourselves and our children, I wrote a book, out this week, called Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America’s Slide Toward Socialism.
Freedom is not a gift from government, but a right given to us by God. We believe that every human being is endowed with “certain unalienable Rights,” including “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In 1787, our Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to forge a new system of government, designed to “form a more perfect union” and guarantee Americans, in the words of Ronald Reagan, “the maximum of personal liberty consistent with order.”
Paramount among the reasons this system succeeded in America was our political and religious culture that accepted the inextricable connection between personal freedom and personal responsibility. It was understood that, for every question in life not answered by government, individuals, families, and neighborhoods must work out answers for themselves. The Founders knew that the natural order of things was for government to expand at the expense of personal liberty, so their Constitution was based on an implicit bargain – the less government does for you, the less government can do to you.
Today, our once-limited federal government has betrayed those founding principles. It tries to be all things to all people, yet despite its good intentions, government action usually does more harm than good. Look around: every system Washington touches – health care, education, energy, infrastructure, mortgage lending – quickly begins to break down. In some recent cases, including the automobile bankruptcies and the Wall Street bailouts, even the rule of law itself has been subordinated to the good intentions of politicians and bureaucrats. And yet government’s solution to the problems it causes is always … more government. To solve problems created by government’s role in our schools or health care, Congress now proposes a complete federal takeover of these systems!
What Washington refuses to understand is that government systems will always fail because they are not free. Private schools perform better than public schools. Private health insurance provides better care than government programs, and controls its own costs. And on and on. Without the competitive pressures and transparency of a free market, government agencies have no motivation to improve their services. After 10 years in Washington, I have concluded that both parties are slow to recognize this one simple fact: freedom works, and government doesn’t.
That’s why I wrote Saving Freedom. Washington simply will not change on its own. To change our politics, we first have to change our culture. We need to remember that freedom demands responsibility. We need to reject politicians who promise us something for nothing, and instead take back both our freedoms and the responsibilities that go with them. We must not only end our growing dependence on government; we must become independent in our own right.
Given the space and choices to make our own decisions, whether in education, health care, civil society, or in business – the American people will thrive, as they always have. But the political class in Washington will not easily return the power it has taken from us – we must take it back, in two ways.
First, we must remake America’s culture of responsibility: in our family life, in our communities, and in our businesses. We must prepare our nation for its rebirth of freedom, so that when government finally does begin to change, our culture and economy can hit the ground running.
And second, this cultural renewal must assert itself in the political arena. Elected politicians are only as unresponsive as their constituents allow. They know that every letter and email and phone call represents hundreds more just like them. They know that Big Government’s worst enemy is an informed citizenry, ready at the next election to punish anyone who infringes on our God-given and constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms. Get involved, and I promise – we will see results.
Freedom can be saved, but it can’t free itself. Like the patriots of Bunker Hill and Philadelphia, of Gettysburg and Normandy, our generation must now take up that banner for ourselves. Saving Freedom is never easy, but it’s always worth it. Please read Saving Freedom and join the fight!
Republished from Glen Beck's newsletter July 6, 2009