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The Paradox of Freedom

September 19th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

A paradox is a seemingly contradictory statement that may reveal a truth. A paradox of freedom is that it is rarely, if ever, free.

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There are many forms of freedom that should be considered.

  • Freedom of thought;
  • Freedom of speech;
  • Freedom of religion and belief;
  • Freedom of movement;
  • Freedom from oppression;
  • Freedom from violence;
  • Freedom from deception;
  • Economic freedom and more.

Do you love freedom? Do you want to protect and expand that freedom?

Threats to freedom often come from an abuse of “power.”  So one way to maximize freedom is to keep power in check.

In the United States, our Declaration of Independence said that we our “endowed by our Creator” with certain “unalienable rights.” All of those rights – the freedoms noted or implied in the bullet points above – were designed to be enshrined and protected by our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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Constitution Day is normally observed in the U.S. on Sept 17th. Image credit, The Political Student.

Knowing the Constitution was an imperfect creation of a compromise, the founders made it subject to legal amendment. That process was designed not to be easy, so that changes would come only from broad consensus.

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Bill of Rights cartoon, circa 1971 – credit – libguides-cu-portlan-edu.

Among the ways that power was to be checked by Constitutionally limited government was division or “separation of powers.”

  • The president (and executive branch) was limited and checked by;
  • the Congress (the legislative branch) – further divided in a House of Representative and the Senate; and
  • the Courts and Supreme Court were to decide cases and act as a check on legislative and/or executive overreach.

Inefficient? 

Dictatorships and kingdoms may in theory be more efficient than constitutionally limited government.  But that’s the point, to maximize freedom, the power of a rule needed to be checked.

Constitutionally limited federal power was meant to be a way to hobble the fast passage of actions, precisely to protect We the People, and the States, from the overreach of power by the federal branch of government.

All of this requires an informed and engaged electorate to work properly.  That electorate had to be grounded in an understanding of freedom and justice.

Constitutionally Protected Freedom Under Assault

It would be easy to point to the last 7 years and say that the executive branch has been exceeding its authority. But the truth is that constitutionally limited government has been under assault for well over a century. It’s been done by Democrats and Republicans. The constitution is being violated by all three branches of the federal government.

That said, one presidential candidate – an attorney – is promising to pack her lower and Supreme Court appointees with judges who will back her vision of government. By contrast, Donald Trump is promising to appoint justices is the mold of the late Antonin Scalia. Originalists who would apply the original meaning of the law, instead of imposing their political view on the law.

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If the law doesn’t apply to all equally, then one has injustice. Injustice leads to rebellion and anarchy.  To be free, your rights and your property have to be protected.

How is it fair if you earn and work for something, and then a power greater than your own simply takes it away?  Yet isn’t that what often happens through laws, as well as by criminal acts?  These are the notions that Constitutionally limited government were supposed to protect against.

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The struggles are routinely changing, but freedom is something that is worth the effort.

Freedom isn’t free. Each of us ought to work to understand freedom. To spread the understanding of freedom. To campaign, lobby, advocate and vote for freedom.  The paradox of freedom is that it isn’t free, but it is worth working and struggling for as necessary. ##

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L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach is a publisher, consultant and service provider to the manufactured housing industry.

By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.