This post was authored by Chris Snook
Patrick Henry, famous for his ‘Give me Liberty or Give me Death’ speech which argued for independence from Great Britain, was an ardent patriot and advocate for limited central government (as were most of the founders). In his opposition to the Constitution of the United States, he said:
“Is it necessary for your liberty that you should abandon those great rights by the adoption of this system? Is the relinquishment of the trial by jury and the liberty of the press necessary for your liberty? Will the abandonment of your most sacred rights tend to the security of your liberty? Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings..”
His concerns in this statement were addressed by the Bill of Rights, but today they seem all too relevant. In previous years, people have been assailing the federal government for its extrajudicial assassinations of U.S citizens, practice of asset forfeiture without formal accusations of crime, and overreach of the FCC in its pursuit of censorship (the U.S ranks 41st in press freedom according to Reporters without Borders, below Slovenia, but at least above Burkina Faso!). Now, with President Trump issuing vague threats across the board at non-compliant media, wholehearted support of civil asset forfeiture and his known support for Philippine President Duterte’s state sanctioned murder; previous big government advocates on the left are calling on their comrades to stop paying taxes, and many are even advocating for limitations of presidential power now that it’s not their guy in office. What a time to be alive. At least during the Obama presidency the call for weakening the federal government by conservatives fit within their rhetoric for small government, but now surprising allies to the cause of liberty have appeared (at least until a leftist is president again).
For years, people have warned that the federal government (and the executive branch in particular) should not be given such broad control over the country, because at some point a despotic individual might be elected president. Well, it turns out that might just well be the case now, as we have a president who wants to run the country through executive order and vehemently opposes any limits to his authority. Our president has appointed unqualified and in some cases clearly incompetent individuals to key cabinet positions. There are clear conflicts of interest among many members of Trump’s cabinet, maybe now would be a good time to limit all their authority. If you want an active, progressive government your state has the full authority to enact your desires (see California or New York). If you fancy a smaller, conservative government that leaves you alone, those too exist (see North Dakota or Texas).
The federal government is largely too incompetent and large to effectively manage the needs of its 320 million inhabitants. With our new executive branch, the incompetencies are too glaring; it is impossible to ignore. Our rights have been trampled on for years by those in Washington D.C and for what gain? The token liberties that our federal government still protects are not worth what it takes. The federal government can’t even accomplish what we have tasked it, our wars are largely ineffective (the Taliban still exists, and Islamic terrorism is still a threat), the VA is a mess, the FDA has long been in the pocket of big agribusiness, our economy is in the slowest recovery of U.S history (despite a record high stock market, looks like Obama really stuck it to Wall Street) and so on. The largest roadblock I believe, that stands in the way of Americans’ fulfillment of their hopes and dreams, is nestled on the north bank of the Potomac River.
In a warning about the growing centralization of the federal government that is probably more true today than in 1797. Then Vice-President of the United States Thomas Jefferson had this to say:
“We have against us the Executive Power, the Judiciary Power, all the officers of government, all who are seeking offices, all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.”
The federal government has always been an obstacle to the freedom of the people, and unless we as a nation make efforts to weaken this beast, it will break this country one way or another.