America is becoming a nation of sheep
"When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty." -- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
To Thomas Jefferson, the fulcrum between the people and the government they have elected was fear. He argued succinctly that the government would only respect liberty if it feared losing power. Today, the relationship between people and government is power. Does the government have the power to tell us how to make personal choices, or do we have the power to tell the government to take a hike?
Stated differently, does the government work for us or do we work for the government?
Jefferson's answer to that question in 1801, the year he became president, was that the government worked for us. Today, unfortunately, this same question has two answers -- a functional one and a formal one. One would stumble answering this question if one looked only at how some state governors are treating the people for whom they claim to be working. One needs to look as well at the nature of government in a free society.
Six months ago, no one could have imagined where we are in America today. Then, if anyone had suggested that the governors of all 50 states, in varying degrees of severity, would be using police to interfere with personal choices -- choices that we and our forbearers have all made without giving a second thought to the preferences of the government -- no one would have believed it.
Think for a moment of how you would have reacted to any pre-COVID-19 idea that the police in America -- using not the force of opinion but the force of arms -- would prevent you from going out of your home, operating your business, jogging in a park, patronizing a restaurant or clothing store, buying a garden hose, going to Mass or church or temple or mosque or even joining a small public gathering of folks who want to protest these prohibitions.
Where did these prohibitions come from? They have come from the ever-changing edicts of governors and mayors, who rely on the ever-changing evaluations of medical data from an ever-changing cast of scientific experts. They are the pronouncements of politicians who have forgotten that they are elected to enforce laws, not to write them, and to be the servants of the people, not their masters.
Why do Americans accept this? We are a nation born in a bloody revolution against a king. The founders of America made the profound and indisputable choice of establishing a government dedicated to the cacophony of liberty over the illusion of safety.
They embedded that choice in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The former states, unequivocally, that no government is legitimate without the consent of the governed and that government's principal duty is to secure our rights. The latter -- which expressly protects the right to make personal choices -- is the supreme law of the land, and thus all governmental acts are subordinate to it.
We have fought wars against tyrants who wanted to tell us how to live. Today, we have elected our masters who are doing just that.