As we survey the despotism of the world around us, we can admire our founding fathers – and celebrate their achievement – all the more.
Think of Iraq under Saddam Hussein; or think of Iran under the Ayatollah and the mullahs. And then look around and see all the millions, even billions of peoples, under some form of tyranny and totalitarian rule. It was not the Iraqi people, but the people of the United States of America, who threw down Saddam Hussein and instituted a democracy in place of tyranny. And the Iranian people may have rioted in their streets, but they failed to throw off the shackles of their tyrannous and repressive regime. And it is very unlikely that they ever will lest some free people liberate them from their own government.
Think of the history of human civilization, and realize just how few times peoples under such rule have thrown off the shackles of bondage for themselves.
We were one of that tiny number. And our forefathers instituted in place of tyranny the greatest example of democratic and republican government that the world has ever known.
The rarity of America’s achievement, and the resulting greatness that has since resulted, should be celebrated with more than fireworks. It should inspire Americans – and the world – to pursue freedom and liberty over any obstacle which gets in the way.
Many historians have argued that the British government, and the king who embodied that government, really did not seek to impose anything that tyrannous. The king didn’t seek to impose an Orwellian-style regime; he merely wanted to modestly increase taxes to help pay for a war that had been fought for the Colonies’ behalf.
The British Empire had spent some 60 million pounds fighting the French and Indian War less than a decade previously. And the British justifiably believed that the Colonies should share some of the burden for that massive cost. They weren’t consciously attempting to impose tyranny; all they wanted to do was raise money.
But the patriots didn’t view it that way. What they saw was taxation without representation. What they saw was an imposition on their property without their consent. They looked at taxes (such as the Stamp tax and the Tea tax), and asked themselves, “If they can impose this upon us, what else can they impose?”
And when their protests were met with thousands of British troops, the patriots believed they had their answer: the king believed he could impose power upon them at his whim.
Unlike most other peoples in human history, our founding fathers did not wait for the yoke of oppression to become so heavy that it could not be thrown off. Rather, they were willing to fight at the very first signs of tyranny. And in so doing, they not only won their freedom, and the freedom of their descendants; they won the freedom of millions and millions of peoples whom their descendants would subsequently fight to liberate.
Part of the problem with tyranny and totalitarian rule is that there will always be people who say, “It really isn’t that bad. Why are you making such a nuisance of yourself by protesting?” The analogy of the frog in water comes to mind: if a government takes away our freedoms little by little, it is very likely that won’t comprehend the deprivation until it is too late to do anything about it.
Alexis de Tocqueville – one of the great political thinkers who recognized the import and result of American freedom – also wrote about one of the most pernicious forms of tyranny in the second quarter of the 19th century:
“Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood; it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances; what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?”
C.S. Lewis wrote about a century later:
Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
The tyranny described by Alexis de Tocqueville and C.S. Lewis is the tyranny we face in America today: the tyranny of the nanny state; the tyranny of big government; the tyranny of the welfare state. Naysayers can always continue to say, “It’s not that big of a deal,” or “It’s not that much worse than it used to be,” or “This is what we need right now.” And they always will be able to say such things. And that is precisely why most peoples find themselves in forms of tyranny that they have neither the power nor the will to free themselves from.
There is no question that the massive anvil of fiscal insanity will ultimately fall on the US economy due to the near doubling of the national debt as Barack Obama adds a projected $9.3 trillion to the $11.7 trillion hole we’re already in. Obama is borrowing 50 cents on the dollar as he explodes the federal deficit by spending four times more than Bush spent in 2008 and in the process “adding more to the debt than all presidents — from George Washington to George Bush – combined.” And what is most terrifying of all, Obama’s spending will cause debt to double from 41% of GDP in 2008 to a crushing 82% of GDP in 2019.
What will be the result of all this insane spending, and not very long from now? A quote from a CNS News story should awaken anyone who thinks the future will be rosy:
By 2019, the CBO said, a whopping 82 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) will go to pay down the national debt. This means that in future years, the government could owe its creditors more than the goods and services that the entire economy can produce.
I look at the recent past, and see debts that our children’s children’s children will never be able to hope to repay; debts that will soon shackle us, and most certainly shackle our future generations. And I realize that these debts have been accumulated in order to forge the very sort of society that de Tocqueville and Lewis warned us about.
The nanny state doesn’t celebrate the peoples’ independence; it celebrates their dependence. As big government assumes more and more control of the economy, it creates more poverty and therefore more need for the government to come to the increasingly dependent peoples’ rescue. It systematically and progressively creates a vicious cycle of dependency that becomes increasingly difficult for a once-free people to sever themselves from.
I think of two attempts by the Obama administration to seize government power that are most pernicious of all: health care and cap-and-trade. Consider for a moment that if the government assumes control over our health care, it will have the potential to control everything that goes into our bodies, and even the activities of our bodies in the name of our “health.” And as for cap-and-trade, what doesn’t require energy to produce or transport? Under these two programs alone, nearly total control can be exercised.
What would our founding fathers – who were willing to fight over taxes on stamps or tea – have to say about these massive government power grabs?
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