The 2016 presidential election may be the single most important moment of our lifetime; not necessarily due to the election results but rather the sleeping giant that awoke in the American people. There is an old saying, “Corner a dog in a dead-end street and it will turn and bite” or in other words, “if you force someone into an inescapable situation, and they feel threatened, they have two options: they can resign themselves to their fate, or stand up and fight regardless of the odds.” American history is replete with this paradigm and the founding fathers wrote our constitution bravely in the face of this reality.
So what was it that awoke the sleeping giant? What forced us into a corner that we had to fight our way out of? That answer will likely vary from person to person, particularly party to party, but it was clear that everyone felt the storm that was brewing. With each new primary, and each debate, and each new media rant, there was an acute sense of hopelessness and dread from all sides. The American people would soon be forced to face an impossible and immoral decision… Choosing between Trump and Hillary. Each candidate represented a path that would elevate one set of American values to the max while simultaneously destroying a plethora of others. Depending on how you rank these values, this could either be a great victory or the death of America as we know it. For many it felt as if the walls of their freedom were closing in around them and all hope rested upon a candidate they knew couldn’t be trusted, while the opponent was promising to make the walls come crashing down on top of them.
The gravity of this decision caused Americans to start waking up, getting involved, and actively scrutinizing everything the government does. I myself for the first time have taken an extreme interest in politics and started educating myself as rapidly as possible. I quickly realized that the government and its role in our lives has grown astronomically since its foundation. Far beyond what the founders would have ever approved of. This election, terrible as it was, may just prove to be a blessing in disguise as it is revealing to us just how much power the government actually has – especially in the wrong hands. This is why big businesses buy political favors and political parties force in like-minded Supreme Court nominees. The government’s power is absolute, and people want that power on their side.
While everyone seems to be focused on asking how to get the government’s power to their side, too few are asking the most important question of all, “Why does the government have so much power?” or more constructively, “How can we reduce the power of government?”
We’ve allowed our freedoms to be eroded because when all hope is lost, people are often willing to make a deal with the devil – signing away their freedom in the hope of short term benefit. Occasionally that may be ok, but if you do it enough times, you desensitize yourself to the consequences and it can actually become the primary vision for our country. This is why our political left actively seeks a larger government, because they recognize its power to impact our lives. They often advocate restricting American freedoms under the banner of “protecting the oppressed”. Likewise our political right, while for limited government, actively seeks larger government influence when it comes to moral issues as well. Noble as either of these may sound, the long term effect impacts future generations. The once free America 100 years from now may not actually be the land of the free. Only the brave who are willing to stand up in the face of tyranny and say no are able to truly make a difference. That is the example set by our founding fathers, and genius of our constitution.
The brilliance of the constitution is that it is neither a weapon nor a shield to be picked up in the event of tyranny, but rather carefully forged shackles to keep it safely locked away. You see, our founders already picked up their weapons and fought the war on tyranny for us. They paid for our freedom with their blood – and they won. Those who remained sought to secure our future and prosperity by locking tyranny deeply away with the constitution, safeguarding it with the separation of powers, and entrusting future generations (will of the people) with the key.
If one we’re to erode the constitution, or blur the separation of powers, or the people lose sight, the shackles may not be able to hold. That’s why the key and its importance has been passed down and entrusted to each generation for over 200 years. The importance of the key is not to give us the ability to open the cage, but rather to remind us that the cage still exists. The reason we must always remember the cage still exists is because it is easy to take for granted. It is easy to allow time to wash away our wounds and be consumed with problems of the present while forgetting how we overcame the problems of our past. It serves as a reminder of where we’ve been, our journey to the current, and grants us the wisdom of where we need to go.
There has never been a more critical time for limiting the power of our government than now. There has never been a more critical time for challenging fellow Americans to stand up for freedom and hold each accountable rather than making the government hold each other accountable. Because at the end of the day, government power is a gun – the threat of force. A good starting point for identifying which laws and regulations are necessary is asking ourselves, “Which laws am I willing to shoot someone for if they break them?”
Think carefully before you advocate to take away someone’s freedoms. Because one day, someone may take them from you.