My whole life I’ve always believed that our freedom and our rights, as laid out in the Constitution, were absolute and unexpireable. Now as an adult in my early 30s, nothing has shocked me more than to discover the fragility of our rights and our freedom.
The famous Ronald Reagan quote rings exceptionally true today: “Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
We live in a time when people, unfamiliar with history, call to trade our rights in exchange for safety or a “greater good.” Benjamin Franklin warned of such perils by saying “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
We see this in the Covid-19 pandemic within our own state holding onto emergency powers up through present day for our “safety” — emergency powers that move power away from our representatives, being the voice of the people, up to a singular governor which can act more autonomously.
This can also be evidenced in the ongoing Second Amendment debate where rights are being chiseled away under the guise that it will prevent ill-doers from committing heinous crimes. We didn’t follow the science with covid and we don’t follow that data with gun control. We don’t follow these things because it’s not about solving these issues– it’s about control.
I’ve come to the realization that at the time of the ratification of the Constitution we were dealt a full deck and ever since then we have been giving cards away, each generation having less freedoms then their fathers.
I worry about what freedoms will be left when my children are grown. Did I let any go on my watch? It is each generation’s job to preserve these freedoms for the next. We’ve gotten so far away from the Constitution and the spirit in which it was written that we now only know what truths are evident within our lifetime and neglect to look back at the history that these rights were derived from. Perhaps this is by design.
We’re falling victim to a group our founding fathers were deeply concerned about referred to as a majority faction. In Federalist 10, James Madison expressed concern that a “… number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”
A minority faction was a lesser concern due to not having a majority to affect legislative change. The majority faction was of grave concern because at the expense of others’ rights they could affect legislative change. That’s where the Supreme Court comes in as a safeguard to the Constitutional rights of that minority group that was more or less trampled on by the majority.
It greatly concerns me that in present time this majority faction has taken aim at the Supreme Court which is the last defense in protecting our rights. Our government was designed as three separate branches to check and balance each other and ensure our rights were protected. To threaten an entire necessary branch to serve this passion or interest is a tremendous threat to our freedom.
I often ask myself what can be done to steer us back onto the course that our founders had planned out for us. I believe I have some solutions. We need a few terms of a truly limited government, a government as outlined in the Constitution. Our government was essentially designed as an insulator to our Bill of Rights, its sole job being protecting those rights. The government could legislate any laws it wished as long as those laws served to protect the citizens’ rights.
Commonly it is thought that main purpose of our government is defense and that is not outwardly true in that it’s a specifically enumerated right, but in so that it is necessary in our ability to protect our life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The point is that we don’t need to trade our rights for safety, but we need to bolster and strengthen them for our safety under the umbrella of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can do this by electing representatives in government who truly represent our interests and by holding accountable those who don’t.
We can bring American/Constitutional history back into education and shift the culture back to one that has a vested interest in preserving our rights. By learning from the past and actually understanding our rights we can wake people up to the importance of them.
We can eliminate “woke” social justice curriculum in our classrooms that teach division instead of unity — curriculum which makes us fight with each other instead of working as a collective; curriculum that teaches and encourages abstract thinking instead of telling you what to think. These proposed actions will be gradual and take time, but we can still turn this ship around and save what we are so blessed to have.
America is the only place that this experiment of a constitutional republic could take place. It was a vast unclaimed land, the product of individuals escaping a tyrannical government. This scenario could not again take place in both physical space (because there is no more unclaimed land) or circumstance (a group of secessionists starting over in said unclaimed land).
Let’s not ruin this incredible opportunity we’ve been afforded. Ronald Reagan: “If we lose freedom here there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.”
Michael Rapetski lives in Cheshire.