The more I research and study, the more I’ve come to realize something.
Liberty thrives under only one condition: limited power.
All power, even if it’s used for “good”, is a threat to liberty if it’s unrestrained. Consider the monarch’s of Great Britain. Not every monarch used their limitless, arbitrary power for pure evil. Some used the power with honor and restraint (even though all used their power to suppress, control, and punish their enemies in one way or another).
But the issue was never how those in power used their limitless power, the issue was always the fact that the individuals in power had the power do whatever they wanted to do. That alone made them dangerous.
I don’t know that I can articulate to you just how critical it is that Americans fully grasp and apply the dangers of unlimited power to everything they believe about government and politics.
This simple truth that limitless power destroys liberty should inform and compel us at every turn. Every decision, political or otherwise, should be colored with the realization that unless our government’s power is limited, we have no liberty.
James Madison said, “It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it.” Federalist 48, 1788.
This is why we must, at ALL costs, fight to preserve the respect, honor, and supremacy of the U.S. Constitution. It is the only thing that stands in the way of liberty’s total ruin.
The Constitution is essential not because it lists out our rights (it doesn’t do that); the Constitution is essential because it lists out government’s powers.
The Constitution imbue’s government with power and by doing so, it limits the power of government. It says simply: the government has power to do x, y and z… and no more.
Do American’s truly grasp how precious, how rare, how vital this concept of limited power is?
Do we realize just how blessed we are that we can live life without the constant fear that at any moment those in power could strip us of our property and lives? And do we know that the reason that cannot do this is because there is a power, the Constitution, that prevents them from doing so?
Further, do we realize that the power of the Constitution rests solely on the power of the Constitution in the minds of the American citizenry?
How compelled is government to follow the Constitution, their job description–that which limits their power—, if we don’t hold the Constitution in the highest regard?
Or do Americans simply see the Constitution as a list of rights that the government cannot invade upon, while government’s power is virtually limitless otherwise?
Where did we go wrong?
Since when did the question change from, “Has government violated its limited powers?” to “Has government violated my rights?”
Do we not realize that if government can violate its limited powers, government can violate our “rights” whenever it pleases? The issue has never been and never should be about rights but rather limited power.
Friends, we have far more than ten rights (for those of you who are thinking of the Bill of Rights). We have liberty and liberty is never safe under the reign of an unlimited government, even if that government has not yet violated specific rights.
This concept may be hard to grasp if you have not yet read all of my blog posts or digested the concepts of arbitrary power vs limited power vs rights and liberty; but I’ll say it all the same. We must begin to change our thinking. We must start exalting the Constitution and the LIMITATIONS of power on our government as the ONLY method for preserving liberty.
Otherwise, we’re left with a government that possesses unlimited power, a government whose shadow of potential power will always reign over us, eliminating any realization of true liberty, even if a few “rights” are still untouched.
Consider the fear, the chilling and despondent fear of those living under Soviet communist rule. They knew that at any moment those in power could strip them of their homes, their property and their lives with no justification and with no recourse.
Unlimited power, no matter how it’s being used, is the mortal enemy of liberty. It suffocates, crushes and silences the independent free spirit. Take a look at this quote from Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, a famous Russian author and someone who experienced the stifling effects of unlimited, unchecked power under Soviet communist rule.
“And even in the fever of epidemic arrests, when people leaving for work said farewell to their families every day, because they could not be certain they would return at night, even then almost no one tried to run away and only in rare cases did people commit suicide. And that was exactly what was required. A submissive sheep is a find for a wolf.” —Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956
Friends, liberty flourishes within the fences of limited power and dies in the open fields of limitless power.
I’ll leave you with this quote by Solzhenitsyn.
“We didn’t love freedom enough.“
The Liberty Belle