Independence isn’t meant to be a single day. Our founding fathers intended it to be a way of life. America is surely “independent” from Great Britain. Americans, however, can have no independence without liberty. They can have no independence with blind allegiance to party, and they can have no independence under the yoke of a large, controlling government.
On July 4th we commemorate our “Independence.” It is the original Brexit. As we inch toward 250 years since our “Declaration” of independence, we ought to be asking ourselves: have we achieved the dream of true independence? What does independence mean, and how does liberty fit into that equation?
What is the role of government in our liberty, and has our government failed us?
Most Americans know, or at least have heard parts of the Declaration of Independence. The lines most familiar are these words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Amen … for the true religion of humanity is liberty.
Those famous words should be spoken with reverence and passion. The often dry, soulless recitation of these sacred truths rankles me. I hear the words roll easily from the mouths of Americans. It is too rote. The words of liberty march like prisoners from their lips in staccato. They know the words. They say the words … but they neither feel nor experience them. We are passionless about our liberty and independence. We believe it won, complete, and a matter of history.
Liberty is a birthright … securing it is a lifetime obligation for every generation.
In a world filled with hate, horror, death, and inequality, Americans now think liberty attaches at birth and requires neither nurture nor protection. We have little appreciation for the grand experiment that America created to “secure” our liberties.
Do American’s even understand liberty, and from whom it is derived? Do they understand, for example, that man is born free, and that by his birth he has all the liberty and natural rights a man can ever obtain … or all he may ever lose.
Holding those God-given or natural rights is a function of government. The very next line in our Declaration of Independence is less known but every bit as critical Americans must understand this line to understand our role in protecting our natural liberty.
Do you even know the next line after “Happiness?” You should … here it is:
“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
This is an op-ed on liberty, not a lesson in government or philosophy. However, Americans need to understand that they don’t obtain their rights from governments. They secure their rights and liberty through self-government that is just and that comes from the consent of those with whom we voluntarily form these governments.
In modern America, Liberty has become passé. Americans assume they have liberty, and many believe their preferred party is the apparatus that best advances their “rights” and causes … all without much thought about the benefits and burdens of liberty, or how parties and the government are naturally at odds with Liberty.
To be sure … liberty has no party.
Liberty is man in his natural state, free of party, government, rules, regulations, and demands. True liberty is freedom from everyone but ourselves and our natural predators.
The problem is – man is natural predator of liberty. Men binding together in concert under the banner of government are a predator of liberty, as too are the men who raise political parties to control these governments.
This is WHY the American experiment was so critical. The goal was to form a union and create a government that allowed liberty and government to co-exist … though they are natural enemies.
Liberty can coexist with government, it’s just that government diminishes liberty’s size and scope. For that certain reality, we must be ever vigilant. The decision to downsize liberty … which is the choice to form a government .. is not one that ought to be taken lightly. It is not a decision whose implementation should be easy. Even history’s greatest proponents of liberty, however, understood that trading pure liberty for modest constraints was rational. That’s why we form governments to secure liberty.
Indeed, “securing liberty” is the only just purpose of our government.
In modern America, the purveyors of government don’t understand it’s adverse effect on liberty.
Those for bigger government think that the bigger the government becomes, the more secure individuals are in liberty. Thus, they are selling more government at insurance for more liberty. They could not be more wrong. Certainly, selling government as “pro-liberty is easier than hawking less freedom. The big government crowd actually believes more government makes more liberty, the same way these people think taking one’s man’s money by force to give to another is both a sound economic policy and the essence of a fair America.
Likewise, the advocates of liberty are not selling anarchy – as has been suggested by the purveyors of government. I have yet to meet anyone who wants no government. Conservatives want what the Founders conceived, though never perfected. They want a small, effective, responsive citizen government with most decision left to localities.
Conservatives and Americans share the central premise of the Declaration of Independence. That premise is NOT that we are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. Indeed, that premise is not in contention in a modern, educated world.
Conservatives understand that government are essential to secure these rights … and that only the right type of government can balance an individual’s liberty with a state’s desire to control it.
A civil society must have order, and people order themselves through government. When a person tells you that another person or group wants to get rid of the government, they are either lying or stupid. It is possible that they are both, but it is not possible that they are neither.
The problem in this country is not that people want to get rid of government – it is that some of them want to get rid of liberty.
Government and liberty are adversaries. They can and do coincide, but they are not and cannot be friends. Too much liberty and one has anarchy. Too much government and one has no liberty. If you took a simple poll and asked Americans if they thought we had too much or too little government, what do you think the result would be? What would it be if you asked Americans; “does the US have too much government or too much anarchy?”
In September of 2013, Gallup[i] asked Americans if Government has too much power, too little power, or just the right amount of power. A record 60% said government had too much power. Thirty-two percent said it had just the right amount of power, and 7% thought it didn’t have enough power. Less than one person in ten thinks government is too weak, while six in ten think it is too strong.
Americans see their liberty slipping away.
To fix the problems of America, two political parties are selling solutions. Neither party is selling liberty. One party represents the 7% who think Government is too weak or small. The other party, ironically, has an establishment that represents the 32% of Americans who think government is just right.
Who represents the 60% of Americans who fear a loss of liberty? Liberty has no party.
Before the 2016 election, if one listened to the pundits, politicians, and pugilistic posters, one would have thought it was the Republican Party that faced near certain oblivion. The just-the-right-size-government crowd represents former JFK democrats and Rockefeller republicans. These are the self-centered tinkerers. They embrace government for what they think it can do for them.
For those who think we have the right amount of government, they could care a less what government does for Americans. They just want to control it. They don’t view government with suspicion, as they should. This is the present Republican establishment, and they are no more an ally of liberty than were the Tories.
The 7% crowd represents the hard left. These are the ideologues and true believers. They think every ill in society can be cured through government intervention, regulation, redistribution, or taxation. Their mantra is fairness, and the principles of liberty abhor them. The freedom to succeed wildly is unfair, as is the freedom and natural selection of failing miserably. To the 7%’ers, the wealth of the individual is the “nation’s wealth.” Infringements on your liberty and prosperity are for the common good – a good they know better than you. Success is viewed as an unfair advantage, and failure is seen as unfair disadvantage. The 7%’ers think everyone is entitled to an equal outcome and that the rights of individuals are always subordinate to the government.
This is the modern Democratic Party.
That is the party of Obama, Reid, Clinton, and Pelosi. That party sells fairness by marketing envy. Its solutions are billed as compassion, while its prescriptions are soft tyranny. This is the party that tells you what to buy, or punishes you for ignoring its superior wisdom. This hard-core, radical, extremist, leftist 7% was in control of the White House and all levers of power in in 2008. Based on that Gallup survey, it is not easy to see how and why that party and its philosophy lost effective control.
By 2016, the party of the 7% thought it was the party of a super-majority. Through marketing to low information voters, exploiting entitlements, igniting economic and racial fears, and dragging along uninformed traditional democrats, the 7%’ers believed they assembled a voting majority. They believed that its voting majority – a majority based on an ideology that has the support of 7% of Americans – was a majority on which they could build.
Tyranny does not build a democratic majority … that’s a reality 7%’ers should have learned after record losses over the last 8 years.
This reality left nearly 60% of Americans with no party at all. They were probably better off, except that those outside the political party process are essentially outside the democracy, such as it is. Without a party, without representation, Liberty has its nose placed firmly on the glass as its sits outside in the cold watching the forces of tyranny and cronyism devour the republic.
The 2013 Gallup Survey probably best explains Trump’s remarkable win. A majority of Americans were seeking something, anything, other than the 7%’ers. America, instead, rolled the dice on Mr. Trump … who … ironically, represents at times the worst of both parties. However, his America-first message resonated with so many looking for something other than these two miserable political parties.
The two party system is an anti-liberty system designed to serve the interest of the party over the interest liberty-loving individual Americans. The party system is the creature of which we were warned by President Washington. It is no longer a threat to the Republic, as it has now toppled the republic founded in liberty.
Individual Americans are faced with a daunting choice. Choose a party that does not fight for liberty, and hope the scraps of cronyism fall to your feet – or be a serf in the new America – where party politics rations the last vestiges of the fruits of liberty. Those outside either party can count on few rations.
There are two ways forward for the forces of liberty. The good news is that liberty is a natural born flicker present even in the dullest of bulbs. Thus, while party drones and serfs play their collective roles in the un-American system, at some point tyranny will touch them and liberty will be awakened.
Man cannot fight his DNA – a DNA of natural rights founded on liberty.
But while man cannot fight his DNA, he must fight his fellow man for liberty. This can and has been done since more than two walked on this earth. It has been done by the sword and/or with the pen. So shall it be again. The battle for liberty was long ago joined with the pen, and is not far now from being joined by the sword. I vote for the pen, and I use it as a sword for liberty and a shield from tyranny. I use it in the hopes that swords once on their shelves can be re-sheathed and re-shelved.
The 60% is now woke … as they say. In 2016, they tried to overthrow both parties. One might argue they succeeded in the GOP. Make no mistake, political blood was and will be spilled as Americans reform a broken feudal system cloaked in liberty.
We see this happening now in the Republican Party. Even as new forces seize party control, will they still be a force for liberty once they control the apparatus of government? We have seen little historical evidence of a political party being selfless and of politicians limiting their own powers and authority. Man seldom seeks to be less powerful, which is why man is born with liberty, but is also a predator of liberty.
Americans – that 60% … ought not have a party. They need to return to that key principle of liberty enshrined in our declaration. They need to institute a just government to secure their liberty. To do so, they should Amend the Constitution. They should limit government, and through the amendment process end run party control.
Mark Levin provided the framework for such a liberty uprising. More accurately, Mr. Levin brought to light the Constitutional mechanism for self-help – while suggesting with some clarity and acumen what he describes as Liberty Amendments. I give a full-throated support for the mechanism of amendment and a deeply sympathetic nod for the suggested Liberty Amendments.
How perfectly brilliant were our founders? They created the greatest, freest, nation man has ever conceived. It is our job to work toward a more perfect union.
The Founders understood their creation could and indeed would be manipulated. So, they provided the people with a mechanism to refresh – if not reboot our liberty. That mechanism would end-run the party system and render defenseless the tyranny of the government –lest it turn its guns on its own people. What liberty needs now is not 6 in 10 Americans who yearn for more freedom. It needs 6 in 10 Americans to seize their liberty from the parties who hold it hostage.
If we want independence … we must fight for it now from our political parties, the deep state, and an unjust government that no longer derives its power from the consent of the people.
Without liberty, we can never be independent …not on independence day … or any other day in modern America.
Author: Richard Kelsey
Richard Kelsey is the Editor-in-Chief of Committed Conservative.
He is an Attorney, a former Assistant Law School Dean, Law Professor, and Virginia state court law clerk. Dean Kelsey was also the CEO of a technology company specializing in combating cyber-fraud. He is a regular commentator on legal and political issues in print, radio and on TV.
Rich graduated from George Mason law school, clerked for the Arlington Circuit Court, and later joined an AM LAW top 10 law firm practicing commercial litigation. He left the firm to be counsel and CEO to a consulting firm, rising to CEO of Turiss, LLC, a technology firm specializing in computer forensics, digital investigations, and fighting cyber-fraud through civil intel services and new technologies. Upon the sale of the company, Kelsey returned to Mason Law, where in the years before his return, he both taught at the school and served as President of the Law Alumni Association. Kelsey was the Assistant Dean for Management and Planning.
At Mason, Dean Kelsey taught legal writing and analysis and an advanced litigation seminar. In 2014 he was elected by the graduating class as the faculty speaker at their graduation. While serving the former George Mason Law, Kelsey conceived of, planned, and brought to fruition Mason’s Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, known as CPIP.
Rich has appeared on radio, TV, and in print hundreds of times as both a legal expert and political and legal commentator. He provided the legal analysis for all stages of the Bob McDonnell trial and appeal for numerous outlets including NPR and WMAL. He writes on occasion for the American Spectator and CNSNews.com. He returned to private practice in September of 2016, and he is working on a book/expose on legal education.
In his free time, Rich is part of the baseball mafia of Northern Virginia, serving on numerous boards and as a little league and travel baseball coach.
Rich has many opinions, and they are his own. His Twitter handle is @richkelsey.