On July 4, Americans celebrate their Declaration of Independence from Britain, the official start of the American Revolution. The real beginning of this momentous war, however, was not a declaration or a gunshot, but an idea whose time had come.
This idea was indeed a revolutionary one, for it rejected the status quo that had been accepted by just about everyone. People believed that a monarchy was necessary; without it, a nation would be plunged into anarchy and chaos. Any tyranny was preferable to life without a king!
The idea behind the Declaration of Independence challenged this premise. The People were sovereign, the Declaration asserted, and had the right, if not the duty, to disempower an exploitive monarchy.
With the success of the American Revolution and the prosperity that resulted from the liberty Americans enjoyed, the idea that the People were sovereign spread like wildfire. European nations discarded or marginalized their monarchies, usually with little or no bloodshed. Even the reigning monarchies could see that there was no stopping an idea whose time had come.
Revolutions, those that are peaceful and those that are not, all start with an idea whose time has come. Today, the libertarian ideal is a revolutionary idea that rejects the status quo that has been accepted by just about everyone. People today believe that we need a government empowered to tax and regulate us; without it, most people believe that our nation would be plunged into anarchy and chaos. Any tyranny, many believe, is preferable to life without a government large and powerful enough to control any aspect of the lives of its citizens.
Of course, each of us would prefer that the government control, tax and regulate everyone but us. We lobby so that government becomes our instrument and we are the “kings.” The problem is that everyone else is trying to do the same thing. We take turns, as majorities and minorities, victims and aggressors, using government to our own advantage.
Attack dogs eventually bite the hand that feeds them. That’s exactly what’s happened with our government. Our Constitution permitted eminent domain so that government could forcibly take someone’s home when building a road. The Supreme Court decided in 2005 that anyone’s home could be condemned, taken by the government, and given to corporate interests for “economic development” (i.e., increased tax revenue). i
In 2008, the Supreme Court refused to hear a landmark case in which cancer patients sued for the right to buy new drugs that had not yet received FDA approval. The lower court ruling claimed that we the People have no Constitutional right to buy potentially life-saving drugs, even if it means we will die without them!ii Whether we have access to cutting edge medical treatment is determined, not by us or our physicians, but by DC bureaucrats.
What if government couldn’t do these things? What if government wasn’t empowered to control our medicine, exercise eminent domain, tax and regulate us? What if we couldn’t rule our neighbors through government—and they couldn’t rule us? What if we were all sovereigns as long as we didn’t interfere with the sovereignty of others? What if we honored the choices of our neighbors and they honored ours? What if we were free from tyranny from monarchs, governments, and other individuals?
Freedom from tyranny from any societal entity is the libertarian ideal. A few decades ago, this idea was scoffed at by just about everyone. In the last year, the outpouring of response to Ron Paul’s libertarian rhetoric has shown that times have changed. “Liberty,” as Dr. Paul is fond of saying, “has become popular.”
The libertarian ideal is a natural extension of the American Revolution. We don’t need monarchs ruling us to be peaceful and prosperous. Indeed, we do better without them. We don’t need governments to tax and regulate us in order to be peaceful and prosperous either!
Indeed, without a government empowered to do such things, I calculate that we would be 3-18 times wealthier!iii Imagine a world where the buying power of your paycheck was tripled, quadrupled, or multiplied by a whopping 18 times!
It’s difficult to do, isn’t it? It’s tough for a Stone Age person to imagine what the Space Age would be like. When government doesn’t strangle the economy with taxes and regulations, such vast differences in our standard of living are not only possible, but probable---without anarchy and chaos.
Are you ready to embrace an idea whose time has come, an idea that promises not just change, but change for the better beyond your wildest imaginings? Can you imagine any better legacy for your children and grandchildren than a nation free of tyranny, a nation where peace and prosperity abound?
----Mary J. Ruwart, Ph.D.
i For details on Kelo v New London, see http://ij.org/private_property/connecticut/index.html.
ii For details on Abigail Alliance v Eschenbach, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abigail_Alliance_v._von_Eschenbach.
iii Ruwart, MJ. Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression (Kalamazoo, MI: SunStar Press, 2003), p. 189.