October 20, 2010

Freedom

By: Heather
As midterm elections approach I have been pondering our country's current political climate.  I enjoy watching and observing politics. The 'game' is intriguing to me.  I am not a fired up activist, but I vote.  I know politics is a touchy subject; I don't mind....it affects all our lives, like it or not.  And I relish the fact that we are free to discuss our leadership in this country.
 
"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." -Thomas Jefferson
Why is it that the conservative movement is so 'angry' right now?  Primarily it seems to be that they see their liberties being taken from them.  Conservatives want the government to have less control over their lives, but see the opposite happening. 
So, where have true conservative politicians been the last couple of decades?  And why are they often labeled as the party of 'no'?

I believe that at the foundation of the conservative philosophy is a profound belief in freedom.  Conservatives want the government to exist for the purpose of protecting the citizens' freedoms.  Freedom to practice religion, freedom to speak one's mind, freedom to live, freedom to succeed and even the freedom to fail.  They do not want the government to decide how and where and when these freedoms should apply.  But simply to keep the framework in place for this freedom to exist.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."-Thomas Jefferson 
It is not that conservatives don't want their country to be a healthier, richer, or smarter place to live.  It is simply that they believe in private citizens promoting, providing, developing, and giving to those causes.  Furthermore, they believe when government becomes more involved in these endeavors it often worsens the situation.

"I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion." -Thomas Jefferson 
It seems to me that the true conservative legislator is one that works himself nearly out of a job.   They would strive toward less regulation, thus typically less legislation.  The conservative congressperson would advocate that money remain in the hands of private individuals for the purpose of citizens making choices for their own families and local communities.  Therefore, the government becomes smaller. 

Conservatives do not want their elected officials to necessarily be creative.  They do not desire for there to be a plethora of 'new laws' on the books, but simply want congress to look out for their safety, freedom and liberty.  This is the essence of why I believe they are referred to as the party of 'no'.

However, there are times in which they need to explain their ideas more clearly.  Let's take the recent healthcare battle of which we are all familiar with.   Some conservatives in congress suggested opening up the health insurance business to cross state lines.  This is a perfect example of a legislative idea which would have allowed for more freedom.  Sure, some smaller, local insurance companies might not have done so well, but then again...who knows.  Until all are allowed to compete and all customers can choose freely, who are we to decide who might or might not survive the competition? That is the essence of what America was founded upon.  The government trying to prop up either the giant corporation or the small guy is not freedom.  But why was this idea and its benefits to us not communicated better?  Conservatives need to be bolder and speak to the idea of freedom and its power.

Sure, conservatives may gain some power in a few weeks.  But to what end?  Will they really communicate what they bring to the table?  Until they are willing to stand strong in simply defending freedom and be as loud about it as their rivals are about 'reform' this wave will eventually roll the other way once again. And down the road to more controlling laws we will head again in the name of 'improving' or 'changing' America.

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."-Thomas Jefferson 
Freedom has to be defended.  It is not created by more ideas.  Freedom does not evolve.  The ways to protect it may need to be adjusted, such as protecting our freedoms against technological advancements or changing threats to our national security.  But once freedom is established in a society it is best primarily left alone.

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."-Thomas Jefferson
Our country needs leaders who are comfortable with constantly saying no, and thus, being unpopular.  We need people in Washington who can articulate why doing less is more important than bringing 'change' and will stand by that conviction. America needs to rediscover why our founders were able to establish this great nation with documents of a few thousand words, not thousands of pages.  This great country desperately needs to once again be satisfied with simply being free.
"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it."-Thomas Jefferson