Every year on July 4th we as a nation gather around our barbeque’s and drive out to the nearest lake and celebrate the day we declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. The American Revolution is the first great American success story. Brave men with principle and a fire for liberty took on the world’s largest army and won. What exactly did men like Washington, Jefferson and crew fight for? They all or at least most of them had begun to adopt a new philosophy called liberalism, our as we call it today classical liberalism. The belief that individuals are best left alone to sort their own affairs. That one’s government should never invade or suppress the individual. This is where natural rights as outlined in the constitution come from.
So what specifically did the founder’s mean when writing the declaration some 241 years ago? I want to highlight just a few ideas that appear in the declaration and in the constitution.
Freedom- That all men should be free. That it is your God given right to choose your own path and have the ability to pursue it free from any hindrance other than natural law. That you can pursue any action, activity, or whatever you can think of as long as you harm no one else.
Liberty- This is synonymous with freedom. The Oxford English dictionary defines it as following;
(Noun) The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed on one’s way of life or political views. Or the power or scope to act as one pleases.
Individuals or individualism- Simply put, someone who is self reliant. Together with liberty the individual can truly achieve maximum freedom.
I mention all of this to say that these ideas have firmly planted in all of us. They are the foundation of our nation. While much of what the founder’s intentions were is up for discussion, to me this seems fairly straightforward. These are all ideas, regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, that we can get behind. Interestingly enough, these are all libertarian ideas. This why I believe that if our founders were alive today most would identify as libertarian. Among the libertarian community there is sort of a running joke where we say that, “most of the country is libertarian they just don’t realize it yet.” I believe this to be true. You only have to take the red pill. We still as a country represent the ideas I outlined above, but not as strongly as we should. All of those ideas are under attack in some form or another. All it takes is a few of us being brave enough to stand up and “fight” for the ideas that make men free. Much like those early rebels did 241 years ago.
Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.- George Washington.
Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.- George Washington
Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature. – Ben Franklin
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be – Thomas Jefferson
It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government. – Thomas Paine