“The Animating Contest of Freedom”
At this critical moment in American history we need what C.S. Lewis called “the clean sea breeze of the centuries” to clear our minds and to reboot our national integrity. As Americans are focused on political corruption on a massive scale, let us glance back a few centuries. In 1782, Benjamin Franklin spoke of the differences between America and the statist bureaucracies of Europe. Unlike Europe, there were few political offices in America. None of them was profitable enough to be attractive to men of greed. In fact, all politicians were expected to earn their own living in the private sector. Political office was to be chosen not for profit but for the purpose of sacrificial service.
Speaking of America, Franklin said, “Of civil offices, or employments [civil servants], there are few; no superfluous ones, as in Europe; and it is a rule established in some of the states, that no office should be so profitable as to make it desirable. The 36th Article of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, runs expressly in these words; ‘As every freeman, to preserve his independence, … ought to have some profession, calling, trade, or farm, whereby he may honestly subsist, there can be not necessity for, nor use in, establishing offices of profit; the usual effect of which are dependence and servility…faction, contention, corruption, and disorder among the people. Wherefore, whenever an office, through increase of fees or otherwise, becomes so profitable, as to occasion many to apply for it, the profits ought to be lessened by the legislature.’”
Security & Stability
Until the mid 20th century, Americans did not find their profits, pensions, or job security in government service. Where did they find their security? Americans were committed to private ownership, family centered entrepreneurship, and biblically derived principles and values as the way to true security and prosperity. They knew that the U.S. Constitution had delegated most of government to the local level. Responsible and charitable individuals, volunteer associations, and churches were the engine of our prosperity, the heart of our welfare system and the guardians of our liberties. Following this model, America became the freedom and prosperity capitol of the world, as well as the center for Christian charity and missions for 350 years. This was accomplished with an extremely small national government, no income tax, no national health care or welfare system and no government retirement. Americans were a truly free people with God as their source, not the State.
Benjamin Franklin explains, “Industry and constant employment are great preservatives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion [Christianity], under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practiced. Atheism is unknown there, infidelity rare and secret; so that persons my live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an atheist or an infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other, by the remarkable prosperity with which He has been pleased to favor the whole country.”
In a Different World
Increasingly over the last century all three branches of America’s national government – Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court – have ignored the written constitutional limitations on their power. Most congressmen in recent generations have been trained at progressive law schools to ignore the Constitution. They have abandoned the rule of law, writing tens of thousands of arbitrary, unaccountable, unconstitutional laws. Congress has become what the Heritage Foundation has called the “ruling class”.
Most Americans do not know that their “public servants” actually live in a different world and under different laws than they do. Federal and state public employees have their own pension plans and health care that guarantees each person hundreds of thousands of dollars in their retirement. Recent studies reveal that public salaries are nearly double that of the private sector for comparable jobs. And because of public employee unions, these millions of bureaucrats are promised life-long job security and retirement by age 50-something. On the other hand, private citizens, by the age of 65 receive a pittance of their contribution to Social Security, virtually no pensions, and Medicare which is nearly bankrupt.
Abandoning the “Rule of Law”
The socialist academics and politicians have prodded the nation to leave the rule of law for dependence on massive government. This fact leaves us on the verge of class warfare which always leads to tyranny for all. Attorney and author Richard Perry states “The liberties of the American citizen depend upon the existence of established and known rules of limiting the authority and discretion of men wielding the power of the government.” He says that dozens of key documents beginning with the Magna Carta to the Mayflower Compact to the United States Constitution are all part of a single long political process. In his landmark book, Sources of Our Liberties, Perry includes 32 key documents which, along with others, “…contribute to the establishment of those rules of law in our Constitution and Bill of Rights which now state and guarantee our liberties.”
A righteous anger from “We the People” is about to begin routing the “ruling class” in Washington and at every level of government. Tens of millions of Americans are remembering that we are not like other nations. We are not “citizens of the state” or divided by classes. We are a republic, a nation of laws and not of men.
The Battle of our Time
Robert Winthrop said, “All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”
Together we must engage in what Samuel Adams called the “animating contest of freedom.” The battle of our time is not between public employees and the private sector or between races or classes. Adams calls us to this contest with these challenging words. “Courage, then, my countrymen; our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.” Our choice is clear.
Dr. Marshall Foster