Essential Liberty Vs Temporary Safety

By admin ~ September 9th, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

Benjamin Franklin is often misquoted as having said something like

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

According to one source, the original statement is:

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Is the quote – in and of itself – relevant today? I don’t think so. Here’s why:

Freedom has always been the abstract notion upon which this country was founded. To be exact, religious freedom was the impetus, with all of the other freedoms just lining up behind it like little ducklings. To wit:

Freedom from the tyranny of “taxation without representation” Freedom to expand (colonists were restricted from settling western territories)

Of course, other freedoms followed (during the creation of state constitutions and the Constitution of the United States), but those were the big three.

Security, on the other hand, is based implicitly on the idea that a sovereign nation would wish to remain autonomous and would take steps to ensure their sovereignty. The Constitution of the United States makes this clear in various places:

Preamble – We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. Article I, Section 8 – The Congress shall have power to … declare war Article II – The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, Second Amendment – A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

Because security was not a major factor in the formulation of the United States of America, it cannot, therefore, be linked arm-in-arm with the notion of freedom.

It is contentious to presume that a sovereign nation is undeserving of the freedoms for which it has empowered itself to defend. If it becomes necessary to enact legislation to facilitate this defense, what society sacrifices is not freedom in the sense of Constitutional Rights, but convenience in the sense of prerogative.

The real issue is that our President does not have the right to unilaterally legislate, adjudicate and execute activities under the authority of commander-in-chief.

Please read Edward Lazarus’ article: Warrantless Wiretapping: Why It Seriously Imperils the Separation of Powers, And Continues the Executive’s Sapping of Power From Congress and the Courts

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