All my life I have always believed that our freedom and our rights, as set forth in the Constitution, were absolute and inexhaustible. Today, as an adult in my early thirties, nothing has shocked me more than discovering the fragility of our rights and freedom.
Ronald Reagan’s famous quote rings exceptionally true today: “Freedom is never more than a generation away from extinction. We did not pass it on to our children in blood. It must be fought, protected and transmitted so that they do the same.
We live in a time when people, unfamiliar with history, call for trading our rights in exchange for safety or a “greater good”. Benjamin Franklin warned of such perils, saying, “Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary security, deserve neither freedom nor security.”
We see it in the Covid-19 pandemic within our own state which retains emergency powers to this day for our ‘security’ – emergency powers which take the power away from our representatives, being the voice from the people, down to a single governor who can act more autonomously.
It can also be evidenced in the ongoing debate over the Second Amendment, where rights are chiselled on the pretext that it will prevent wrongdoers from committing heinous crimes. We haven’t been tracking the science with covid and we’re not tracking that data with gun control. We don’t track these things because it’s not about solving these issues – it’s about control.
I realized that when the Constitution was ratified, we were dealt a full deck and since then we have been dealt cards, with each generation having fewer freedoms than their fathers.
I worry about the freedoms that will remain when my children grow up. Did I drop some on my watch? It is the job of each generation to preserve these freedoms for the next. We have strayed so far from the Constitution and the spirit in which it was written that we only know the obvious truths in our lifetime and neglect to revisit the history from which these rights flow. Maybe it’s by design.
We are victims of a group that our founding fathers were deeply concerned about and that is called a majority faction. In Federalist 10James Madison expressed concern that a “…number of citizens, whether they constitute a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and driven by a common impulse of passion or interest , contrary to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and global interests of the community”.
A minority faction was a lesser concern due to the lack of a majority to influence legislative change. The majority faction was very concerned because, to the detriment of the rights of others, it could influence legislative changes. This is where the Supreme Court comes in as a safeguard of the constitutional rights of this minority group which has been more or less trampled on by the majority.
It worries me a lot that right now this majority faction is targeting the Supreme Court which is the last defense to protect our rights. Our government was designed as three separate branches to check and balance each other and ensure that our rights were protected. Threatening an entire industry necessary to serve that passion or interest is a huge threat to our freedom.
I often wonder what can be done to bring us back to the path that our founders set for us. I believe I have solutions. We need a few terms of a really limited government, a government as provided for in the Constitution. Our government was essentially designed as an insulator of our Bill of Rights, its only job being to protect those rights. The government could legislate any laws it wished as long as those laws served to protect the rights of citizens.
It is generally believed that the primary purpose of our government is defense and this is not ostensibly true in the sense that it is a specifically enumerated right, but in that it is necessary in our ability to protect our lives, our liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The point is, we don’t need to trade our rights for security, but we need to strengthen and strengthen them for our security under the umbrella of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can do this by electing representatives to government who truly represent our interests and holding accountable those who do not.
We can bring American/Constitutional history back into education and bring the culture back to a culture that has a vested interest in preserving our rights. By learning from the past and truly understanding our rights, we can make people aware of their importance.
We can eliminate the “woke” social justice curriculum in our classrooms that teaches division instead of unity – curriculum that has us fighting with each other instead of working as a collective; program that teaches and encourages abstract thinking instead of telling you what to think. These proposed actions will be incremental and will take time, but we can still turn around and salvage what we are lucky to have.
America is the only place where this experiment of constitutional republic could take place. It was a vast unclaimed land, the product of individuals fleeing a tyrannical government. This scenario could not be reproduced both in physical space (because there is no more unclaimed land) or circumstance (a group of secessionists starting afresh in said unclaimed land).
Let’s not waste this incredible opportunity that is offered to us. Ronald Reagan: “If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape. This is the last fight on earth.
Michael Rapetski lives in Cheshire.