Liberty’s Dividing Lines by Joseph Farah

Liberty’s dividing lines

Posted By Joseph Farah On 04/30/2015 @ 8:15 pm

How and why do nations inevitably lose their freedom?

I’ve been thinking about this as I see America, no longer drifting away from liberty and self-government toward authoritarianism, but speeding down the tracks like a runaway freight train.

There are two pillars that have kept the U.S. in balance for hundreds of years:

  • the constitutional commitment to limited government;
  • the Judeo-Christian values of its people.

Remove these and a self-governing society is impossible.

Think about it. There are only a few possible ways nations can be governed. They can have powerful centralized government in which kings or other despots rule. Or they can have decentralized government under check by a founding charter that restrains government from getting too big.

Two nations, notably, in the history of the world began with the latter – Israel and the U.S. You could also make an argument for Switzerland. But I can think of no others that were deliberately constructed on the principle of decentralized authority.

Israel’s charter was the Torah. It was handed down from Mount Sinai and called for a system of judges that would resolve disputes rather than rule by kings. But the people clamored for a king like all the other nations in the world. They thought they knew better than God. Even when God, through the prophet Samuel, explained to them how a king would oppress them, they responded: “Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:18-19)

God explained what was happening to a disheartened Samuel: “And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7)

Israel chose rule by king over self-governing society. Another way of saying this is that Israel chose unlimited government over limited government.

In so doing, Israel was, at the same time, rejecting God.

America’s founders looked at the lessons of Israel and chose limited government under a constitutional charter that, for the first time since ancient Israel, removed the shackles from the people and placed them on the government.

But today, Americans have forgotten God. Most of them have never heard of the lessons of Samuel. They have grown up in a nation that seems to them immune to the embrace of authoritarianism because the word “freedom” is still on everyone’s lips.

However, the biggest threat to freedom always comes from government, which is why America’s founders set up an ingenious system of checks and balances on central power.

As America stumbles and bumbles its way into a new presidential election cycle, the phrase “limited government” needs to be restored to the national dialogue. Some clever presidential candidate needs to use it as a line of demarcation between himself/herself and the opposition.

When was the last time you heard someone mention the words “limited government” on television? When was the last time you heard it mentioned even within the friendly confines of “talk radio”? If it’s not talked about in political discourse, there’s a reason – we’re losing it if it’s not a dead concept already.

Hand in hand with limited government goes self-government – the freest kind of governance ever devised. It requires a moral people, a people who share a set of values that are tried and true. And the only one that has ever worked well in the history of the world – at least for a time – is the one delineated in the Bible and adopted as the foundation for America.

Remember, there is only one alternative – and, ultimately, it’s tyranny.

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