During a crisis such as this, it is easy for the advocate of liberty to become discouraged, especially given the willingness of so many people, including those in the conservative and libertarian movements, to surrender their liberty to the hands of their own government in the hope that their government will bring them safety and security.
Our goal is a free, peaceful, and prosperous society. Most of us understand that such a society is impossible under a socialistic welfare state and regulated society. We understand how such governmental institutions and programs as the war on drugs, public schooling, welfare, the IRS, HUD, gun control, Social Security, and Medicare are inimical to a free society. That’s in fact why our Founders and our American ancestors rejected them all.
But our Founders understood another principle: that an enormous standing military force was also inimical to a free society, not only because of the enormous taxes that are necessary to support such a force and not only because of all the crises (e.g., wars) it would inevitably get the nation into internationally, but also because throughout history, military forces have been used by governments to ensure “order” domestically during crises.
Our Founders understood that at any given time, there would be conflicts, war, tyranny, and horrible things happening around the world, but the role they envisioned for America was not to intervene in international disputes, adjudge the guilty, take sides, and embroil itself in the conflict. Under their vision, the United States would instead serve as the model for a free society and would be a beacon for everyone in the world who wished to escape the horrors of those societies that continued subscribing to a vision of statism. Moreover, recognizing that private Americans would be the best diplomats a nation could ever have, our Founders ensured that the American people would be free to travel and trade anywhere in the world without any restriction whatsoever (including passports) from their own government.
Unfortunately, in the 20th century, the welfare-interventionist vision of American statists prevailed over the vision of liberty and limited government of our Founders and ancestors, both domestically and internationally. Today, the life and income of every American is subject to the control of his own government, including his freedom to trade and travel overseas. Moreover, as a result of the statist welfare-interventionist foreign policies, the American people (not just U.S. government officials) are hated and despised all over the world. Our nation is no longer the model — the beacon — that our Founders envisioned and that inspired worldwide admiration most of our nation’s history.
With crisis comes danger. The biggest danger, of course, is that in the tremendous amount fear a crisis produces people will often rush to be enveloped by their government in the hope that it will forgive them for questioning or criticizing its ever-growing power over them, and that they will express unconditional willingness to surrender their lives and liberties to government, again in the hope that it will take care of them, protect them, and provide for them.
That, of course, as our Founders understood so well, is the grand illusion and delusion. Throughout history, people who have surrendered their liberty to their government in the hope of gaining security, have ended up with neither liberty nor security.
The welfare state, of course, has created the mindset that government is our daddy and, as a daddy, will take care of us. Yet the world’s sole remaining superpower, with the most powerful army and intelligence apparatus in the history of man, was unable to detect and prevent a massive tragedy inflicted by a conspiracy that obviously involved a great number of people. Can it detect and prevent suicide attacks on every sports event, concert hall, movie theater, and amusement park in America? Don’t count on it.
Despite the overwhelming number of people who are unconditionally supporting Congress’s vesting of Caesar-like powers in the president to resolve this crisis, many of them are now asking whether U.S. foreign policy has contributed to this crisis. People haven’t been this interested in foreign policy in a long time and once the emotional ferver diminishes, they might not be so willing to accept the standard bromides that government officials are providing about the crisis.
With crisis also comes opportunity. In the midst and in the aftermath of crisis, we, the advocates of liberty, have an opportunity to persuade our fellow Americans to reject the immoral and destructive vision of welfare and intervention, both domestically and internationally, of Wilson, the two Roosevelts, Johnson, and Nixon and restore the moral and constructive vision of liberty and republic of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Adams. Who can now doubt that our lives and fortunes — and those of our countrymen — depend on our efforts?