Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where's the Talk of Freedom?

I don't talk politics on this blog (in fact, as a teacher, I consider it my duty to remain outwardly apolitical; no signs will grace my yard, and no stickers will grace my car), but I do feel the need to talk about one aspect of the current presidential campaign that was mentioned in a recent column by Steve Chapman in Reason Magazine: How come nobody is talking about freedom right now?

Chapman opens his column with a quote from Barry Goldwater, in his 1964 Presidential nomination acceptance speech:
We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom.
And then Chapman wonders why nobody was giving any speeches like that during the recent party conventions:
This year's Republican National Convention had a different theme for each day. Monday was "Serving a Cause Greater than Self." Tuesday was "Service," Wednesday was "Reform," and Thursday was "Peace."

So what was missing? Only what used to be held up as the central ideal of the party. The heirs of Goldwater couldn't spare a day for freedom.

Neither could the Democrats. Their daily topics this year were "One Nation," "Renewing America's Promise," and "Securing America's Future." The party proclaimed "an agenda that emphasizes the security of our nation, strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, honest government, and civil rights." Expanding and upholding individual liberty? Not so much.

Forty-four years after Goldwater's declaration, it's clear that collectivism, not individualism, is the reigning creed of Republicans as well as Democrats. Individuals are not valuable and precious in their own right but as a means for those in power to achieve their grand ambitions.
Read the whole thing. This attitude among the major parties is definitely a problem, so much so that it might well be a good idea to just dismantle both of them and start from scratch. I've proposed these ideas before: Term limits for not only Congress but the entire Washington bureaucracy as well (nobody spends more than ten years suckling at the government teat; after that, you have to go get an actual job in the productive class); a return to the citizen-legislator who helps the nation with a set of specific skills and then returns to the private sector after a time. Government should defend the shores and tweak a few things to help the proverbial trains run on time, but otherwise, it should just leave people alone. And the federal government should certainly shrink in size; leave the things to the states that they ought to be doing (education, for one) and put a sunset date on every federal entity, many of which have long outlived their usefulness and exist only as a solution in search of a problem.

A lot of people out there need to remember that the government exists for the people--not the other way around. I'll leave you with a quote from the article:
"All previous systems had regarded man as a sacrificial means to the ends of others, and society as an end in itself," wrote the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand. "The United States regarded man as an end in himself, and society as a means to the peaceful, orderly, voluntary co-existence of individuals."
May we strive to elect people who remember this ideal.

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