Daniel Webster once said, “God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard and defend it.” He is also quoted as saying, “There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
Your act of voting is not just a declaration by you as to what kind of candidate you want, it’s also a declaration of the beliefs you have about government’s role in our lives. But will it be a declaration of independence or a declaration of dependence?
With just today and Tuesday left for you to vote on candidates and amendments, you need to ask yourself what you believe.
Do you believe human rights are a gift from God, or do you believe our rights are at the mercy of government to manipulate?
Do you believe the defeat of terrorism will occur when terrorists are killed and freedom is established, or do you believe that we should heed the recent words of Osama bin Laden and not meddle in the affairs of Muslim societies which value the state religion over the individual?
Do you believe your tax money belongs to you, or do you believe your tax money belongs to politicians to redistribute as they see fit?
Do you believe one of government’s main duties is to protect its citizens’ lives, or do you believe that an innocent life can be discarded based on the decision of its mother?
Do you believe that government money should not go toward a process in which one human life is destroyed for the intent of relieving the ailments of another, or do you believe that science trumps respect for life and the ends justify the means?
Do you believe you and your doctor should run your health care, or do you believe that your health care should be ran by government?
Do you believe that you should own your retirement, or do you believe that your retirement should be managed and controlled by government?
Do you believe that parents should have the freedom to move their kids to better schools, or do you believe that kids should stay hostage to failing government schools in the name of fairness and equality?
After asking yourself these questions, think about what your answers say about your devotion to independence or dependence, liberty or servitude. At the heart of the answers is a statement about who is in control: government or the individual? Does government control the individual or does the individual control government?
President Woodrow Wilson said, “Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.”
By voting, we exercise either our commitment to the limitation or expansion of governmental power over our lives. We decide if what we want is independence or dependence.
Samuel Adams put the decision in starker terms when referring to the American Revolution: “If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our country men.”
Patrick Henry summed it up in his famous quote: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
So, ask yourself this overall question: What do you value more — Liberty or servitude? Independence or dependence? Now, vote that way, because that is what is at stake every time we go to the polls.
Adam Fowler is a senior majoring in political science. firstname.lastname@example.org