Here is Judge Napolitano's closing argument Thursday on his FreedomWatch.
Does the government work for us or do we work for the government? Tonight, wars and rumors of war.
The United States was forged in a war: The American revolution. After the rebels defeated the King, we were blessed with something unique in history; a founding document, the Constitution, which was not imposed upon the people but rather was ratified by them, and which set out to establish strict limits on the federal government. The whole purpose of the Constitution was to keep the government off the people's backs; to assure that the new government here would never be as destructive of freedom and property as the King had been; to guarantee that the government is the servant and the people were the master; still a revolutionary idea even today, more than 230 years later.
So what happened to the war machine that freed the American colonies of their British masters? It was subsumed by the new government. The same generation that fought an American revolution whose unifying principles were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, ran a government that violated those very principles. In the Whiskey Rebellion, President George Washington shot and arrested farmers who refused to pay a federal tax on booze they made at home; and under the Alien and Sedition Acts, President John Adams prosecuted people for criticizing him.
The Revolutionary War was the beginning of the Republic and the Civil War was the beginning of the end of the Republic. Prior to the Civil War, the United States were plural; the country was called "these" United States. Even the Constitution refers to the United States as "them." Afterwards, the United States became a singular noun. The Civil War was the official and violent rejection by the federal government of the basic principle laid out in the Declaration of Independence which was cited as the impetus for the American Revolution. What was that principle for which the rebels fought and which, among our presidents, only Jefferson defended? It was the right of free people to secede from a government that destroys their freedom. It was, by extension, the natural right to be left alone.
Not only are wars inimical to our freedom, they are also cancers for democracy. In the last 50 years, the United States has seen a parade of wars that don’t serve our interests. We fought the Korean war at the behest of the United Nations. We fought in Vietnam because the French wouldn’t. We entered the First Gulf War because of the United Nations and of course that led to the Iraq War. Even in Afghanistan, while we entered under the pretext of hunting down the masterminds of 9/11, that war soon became an imperial exercise akin to the Soviet or British occupations of Afghanistan. The Constitution gives the power of declaring war to the Congress. But today in America, that power is effectively the President’s. President Obama has waged war in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya, in Pakistan, in Somalia, and in Uganda; all without a declaration of war. The last time Congress declared war was December 8th 1941.
War is the death of freedom because war is the health of big government. The federal government views the Constitution as its enemy. That’s why the President, a former professor of constitutional law nonetheless, can take an oath to uphold the Constitution and then spend every waking moment trying to dig its grave. And George W. Bush was the same. And Bill Clinton was the same. And so on, and so on. If Barack Obama or George W. Bush told you directly that their agenda was the destruction of your freedoms, you wouldn’t buy it. But war and rumors of war allow the government to steal your freedoms without you rising up to defend them.
In nearly three years in office, President Obama has conducted a campaign to transform America through a process of government expansion and crony capitalism. Yet, he may very well win re-election not because Americans support more central planning and federal control of our lives, but because he enjoys high approval ratings for fighting wars. Yet these wars are the same policies that allow for the centralization of power in the federal government on the domestic front. There wouldn’t have been an Obamacare if there had never been a Patriot Act; because, when you allow your freedoms to be trampled conditionally under the pretext of safety, then even those freedoms you’d never dream of giving away become endangered.
In my new book, It is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong, I argue that every empire falls because of an over-extended military. With more than 900 bases on all seven continents, billions in annual military aid to countries around the world, and active military operations in more countries than we can know, the United States is digging in on its imperial ambitions, even as those same ambitions are driving us bankrupt, exhausting our resources, and destroying our freedoms. Is it worth it? The answer is obvious.
From New York, defending freedom; so-long America.
November 11, 2011Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at the Fox News Channel, and the host of “FreedomWatch” on the Fox Business Network. His latest book is It is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom.