After this Fourth of July and a number of editorials and blog posts, I've been thinking about freedom as it relates to the recent American experience. It's been said that voters get the freedom they deserve and my thinking had led me to believe that's true.
Politicians are a strange breed, at every level of government. They have every motivation known to man, from the purely altruistic desire to serve the people, to the unscrupulous desire for power. Some simply want to be in charge, others desire power, while some want to amass money. Often there are huge egos involved, with the self convinced belief that they are right while everyone else is wrong.
As a student of Louisiana politics, I've seen both the ridiculous and the sublime. I've personally known some great politicians and some of them have been good people. Others of them were crooks, yet the voters couldn't seem to discriminate between the two. So, when we elect a crook, or a power-hungry ego, or someone who simply has no ability to govern, we seem surprised when that person defaults to his or her more basic level of performance.
While looking at the case of McDonald v Chicago, I am amazed that the people of Chicago continue to elect Mayor Daley. He seems anti-freedom, yet the people have returned him to power on more than one occasion. He is a direct product of his father's political dynasty and seems convinced that he knows better than anyone else what is good for the people under his control. Now, his policies have been smacked down by no less than our Supreme Court, yet he continues to resist. His policies on gun control have been rebuffed time and time again. He continues in error and the people who elect him compound the mistake by allowing him to remain in office. I am astounded at the craven attitude of voters who would chose anything over freedom.
Do not misunderstand, I'm not anti-government. I believe that government has a legitimate place in the American experience. If you get more than a dozen people together you'll find that they make rules to ensure polite society, sometimes at the expense of personal freedom. However, our forebears laid down simple rules that are the bulwark of our government and said that there are some places that government should not intrude. Yet, over the years, citizens with the motivation of reasonableness and compromise have allowed certain freedoms to become curtailed to the point where we accept those regulations as normal and natural.
I'm no anarchist, nor even a dedicated libertarian. I think that government has a place and it's the duty of the voters to keep government in its place. In many regards we have failed miserably. When we come to believe that government can grant us things that we're not wiling to work for ourselves, we've begun the jog down the road to serfdom.
Some say that the Courts are our best defense against tyranny, but I say Damn the Courts. While many judges are honest practitioners, many are subject to the same defects as the rest of us. There is nothing sacred about a sitting judge. They bring prejudice and error to the bench on a daily basis. It's a rare jurist who can put aside their pre-conceived notions and make judgments based strictly on the law. One case in point is the four Justices who found themselves last week arguing against the freedom of the people as laid down in the Constitution. Their decision should have been easy, but they constructed hoops to jump through rather than simply saying that the Constitution wins.
The proper place to address freedom is at the ballot box, yet voters do not seem to understand how important basic freedom is to the American experience. We get the government we deserve, and of late I am truly concerned about our nation.