Tim Dunkin: The Unfree States of America

Renew America Are Americans freer now than they have ever been? I would answer this question with an emphatic "No!" Indeed, I fail to see how any other answer could be given. In a country where property owners can't use their own land because a snail darter lives on it, where citizens cannot own "scary-looking" firearms because of left-wing hoplophobic judges and legislators, where the police arrest Christians for handing out Gospel tracts on a public sidewalk in Dearborn, Michigan (because it might "offend" Muslims, you know), and where law-abiding citizens can be (and have been) victimized by police agencies that refuse to abide by the Constitution, how could anybody assert that we're freer now than at any time in the past?

Freedom is not something that just happens. Freedom requires effort. It requires the continuous application of energy to stave off the entropic effects of human complacency. When we the people get comfortable and fat and happy, we tend to forget that our freedom was paid for in blood and codified by the supreme intellectual and moral efforts of a generation of warrior-statesmen who took the bold step of trusting not in the authoritarian power of a king, but in the people themselves to govern themselves. In forgetting this, we then throw away the sacrifices and effort that were made, trading in our self-government for other-government. This is because self-government is hard, both in the personal, moral sense of controlling our own behavior, and also in the political sense of acting as an informed, engaged citizenry who steps forward to participate in our own governance. It's much easier to just throw self-control to the wind and let the government clean up after us and keep us from getting into too much trouble. And once the government gets a taste of that control, its appetite for more becomes insatiable. That's where we're at today.

Let's face it, in many ways our country is becoming a police state — one where the "needs" of "security" overrule and outweigh the necessity of liberty on the part of the citizenry. This is in large part because our people have allowed it to be so. We've decided that it's easier to let an overweening government control our lives and keep us out of trouble than it is to either exhibit self-control, or to deal with the consequences of our actions, both personally and communally. It's to the point where even in situations where, theoretically, it would be proper for the government to exercise a role, we find that it does so in such a heavy-handed and totalitarian manner that the solution to the problem is worse than the problem itself.