But we need to start with foreign policy. Stick with me. We’re going places.
One of the things that conservatives have spent endless, frustrating hours attempting to explain to liberals is the fact that the world is not a nice place. If we put away all of our guns, bad guys will still want to fight us. If we dismantle every nuclear weapon in our possession the Russians will keep theirs, and the Iranians will work even faster on theirs. If we apologize for everything we ever did or thought of doing or that someone else thought of accusing of us of doing people will still feel aggrieved. And if we double our foreign aid? They will take that as the new base requirement, and quadruple it.
The world is not fundamentally a nice place that Americans came along and ruined with their evil competitive natures and their greed and egoism. Nope, the world is fundamentally a dangerous place where constant vigilance is required to keep violence and disaster at bay.
Conservatives get this when it comes to foreign policy. We’re pretty clear on it when it comes to natural disaster.
But we seem to have forgotten that it applies to domestic policy.
Here’s my bright side to the health care debacle. It’s about time someone took America by the shoulders and gave the country a good, solid, firm shaking. We need it. We’ve grown too fat and complacent, and we’ve managed to forget something. Violence, injustice, and inequality are the fundamental traits of the world. It takes sacrifice and vigilance to build a shelter from that reality. That applies to the world beyond our borders, and it applies at home as well.
With a big, heartfelt exception for the military servicemen, servicewomen and their families, what have we sacrificed for liberty lately?
If there’s one thing I believe even the most ardent conservative needs to understand about our Constitution that they don’t understand now it is this: the Constitution was not a victory in a war. It was a victory in a battle. The war was never over.
The war I’m talking about is the eternal endeavor to leave this world a better place for our children. And it wasn’t over in 1776 (or in 1787) for two reasons:
First of all, the Constitution didn’t settle all the basic, essential political questions. It didn’t end slavery, as much as many of our founders wanted the practice to end. And as long as some human beings were considered inferior to others, our war was not won.
On the other side, the forces opposed to liberty and equality were not defeated by the Constitution. They were merely held at bay. And for the last 100 years they have been steadily at work here in the United States attempting to dilute, pervert, and displace the Constitution and all it stands for.
So come on folks. The people of this great nation know how to handle defeat. We turn it into victory. Sure, Pearl Harbor is a day that lives in infamy, but it was a damn sight more useful to this nation in our darkest hour as a blood-red banner, pointing the way ahead. So let’s remind ourselves of what we should never have forgotten in the first place:
“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” – Thomas Paine
“[Oppose] with manly firmness [any] invasions on the rights of the people.” – Thomas Jefferson
“The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.” – Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis
“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.” – Patrick Henry
“No one can find a safe way out for himself if socety is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result.” – Ludwig von Mises
“Maybe I did well and maybe I led the battle but nobody ever said we were going to win this thing at any point in time. Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it.” – Milton Friedman
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
“It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” – John Philpot Curran
“But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government.” – Andrew Jackson
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” – Wendell Phillips
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Freedom is never an achieved state; like electricity, we’ve got to keep generating it or the lights go out.” – Wayne LaPierre
“Voting is no substitute for the eternal vigilance that every friend of freedom must demonstrate towards government. If our freedom is to survive, Americans must become far better informed of the dangers from Washington — regardless of who wins the Presidency.” – James Bovard
“If we become a people who are willing to give up our money and our freedom in exchange for rhetoric and promises, then nothing can save us.” – Thomas Sowell
“If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.” – Somerset Maugham
“The trade-off between freedom and security, so often proposed so seductively, very often leads to the loss of both.” – Christopher Hitchens
“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
“No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.” – General Douglas MacArthur
“God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.” – Daniel Webster
“Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass
“… in every generation the idea of liberty must be reasserted by those with the vision to see through the fog, and rediscovered by the young and courageous.” – Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
“In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all — security, comfort, and freedom. When … the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free.” – Sir Edward Gibbon
Let’s win this country back, and when we do let’s remember to pass these two solemn heirlooms on to the next generation: our sacred liberty, and our sacred obligation to protect that liberty.