Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Ability to Vote Does Not Make You Free

For the patriotic and civic minded citizens of the United States the right to vote is a sacred duty that should not be ignored. When given the opportunity the make sure to go to the polls. While I agree that voting is a very important part of a free society it is not what makes or breaks our freedom. Our Founding Fathers in fact placed limitations on just who could vote, but they were still able to create a free society. Also, places like the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany held elections, but having the ability to vote didn’t make those societies free.

What I want to suggest today is that there are at least four principles of freedom that are so vital to liberty that if anyone of the principles were missing then true liberty would not exist. While it is good that we encourage people to get out and vote, we also have to be mindful that we are dreadfully close to losing our liberty, not because our right to vote is disappearing, but because these four principles are slowly fading away from our society.

Let me briefly explain what these principles are, because I would bet that most of the citizens in the United States don’t even consider the importance of these four areas of life.

The first principle is private property rights. If we are going to live in a free country then people need to have the right to use their property in the way they see best. The trouble is that while we still have private property our government is becoming increasingly more bold in telling us what we can and cannot do with our property. Private property, or the private ownership of the means of production, is the basis of free market capitalism which is the only way to create a truly prosperous economy. Prosperity, as well as freedom, depends on private property rights.

The second principle is the rule of law. A free society needs law to function. Now that can be a law that is written down, such as the US Constitution, or it can be the natural law which is derived from reason (and given to us by God). The reason this is important is because we need to have a standard to hold people accountable for their actions. A society that allows everyone to do as they please is not free but chaotic. The rule of law does not just apply to people but it also applies to the government. One of the major problems that we are facing as a country is the reality that government is ignoring the rule of law, and thus with each passing year, taking away more of our liberty.

The third principle is an educated citizenry. A liberty loving people are educated people. Part of the problem I see in our country is that we have equated educated with degrees. The reality is that we live in a country where the populace is well schooled, but we are woefully uneducated. The Founders of the United States were very educated and well read men. They had a good grasp on economics, history, theology, philosophy, and government. Our political leaders are ignorant about so much of these things. The average politician has no clue about these things. Listening to them talk you wonder if they have even read the document they have sworn to uphold (the Constitution) let alone something like Austrian Economics and free market capitalism. If our leaders are ignorant about these things what does that say about the populace? We have people who have been schooled in the issues of the day so they know what to say about abortion, cap and trade, and the war on terror; but they have not been educated in the founding principles of the country and therefore have hardly a clue about the proper place of the Constitution.

A fourth and final principle I will mention is virtue. The Founding Fathers realized the virtue was essential for freedom. We shouldn’t just look at virtue as another word for morality, because I think it encompasses more than just what we would consider to be moral. Virtue is about things like integrity, hard work, thrift, compassion, and fairness. Virtue is not something that we are born with, but it is something that we are taught. The Founders believed it was the job of the family, of the Church, and of the school to teach and model to the children virtue. Is this not the biggest threat of all to our liberty? We are a society that has lost the importance of virtue, and thus the almighty dollar, pleasure, and selfishness rule the day. This my friends is where we need to start if we are going to reclaim a free and prosperous country. We need to be a virtuous people, and demand nothing less for those who lead us. Freedom depends on the virtue of the citizens.

If you have informed ourself about the issues and the candidates I want to encourage you to get out and vote. It is a very important duty that has been given to us, but I want to challenge you that our country needs more than your vote. It needs you to stand up for private property rights, to demand that the rule of law be followed, to become educated in the founding principles of the United States, and for you to live a virtuous life. Our freedom depends on these things.

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