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From the Track

Liberty. Our great nation was founded on this concept

Kip Hamilton

(July 2011) In a letter to Edmund Pendleton in 1792, James Madison (the best possible Constitutional Scholar) said, ""If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions."

Well, what does that mean? In other words—Congress may do anything it can afford to do for the general welfare but only within the enumerated powers of the Constitution. Remember we talked about the 18 Enumerated Powers a few months ago?

Although far too many people today seem to have lost track of the concept, it is a fact that this nation was established, not for the benefit of the rulers or a "ruling class" but for the protection of the freedom of the citizens. The Constitution was written by our founding fathers, not to grant certain rights to the citizens but, rather to limit the power of the Federal Government to take rights away. The concept of LIBERTY was in the forefront of the Founders’ minds as they had just taken actions at great risk to extricate themselves from the tyranny of an oppressive British monarchy.

They must be rolling over in their graves.

Liberty. Our great nation was founded on this concept, but what is it really? Here’s a good definition: Liberty is a concept in political philosophy that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions. Sounds good, right? The philosopher Isaiah Berlin further broke the concept of Liberty into two parts, Positive Liberty – having the free opportunity to do what you’d like without constraints and Negative Liberty - a negative condition in which an individual is protected from tyranny and the arbitrary exercise of authority.

Curiously, Liberty is the root from which the word "Liberal" is formed. That seems curious because these days which political group is mostly concerned with smaller government, less governmental intrusion into our daily affairs, personal responsibility and the concepts the Founders had in mind for us? The modern Liberal typically is interested in having the government be the answer to all of the citizen’s problems. If you have some problem, don’t worry, there is a government program that covers that. You all know what I’m talking about. Why? How did things get all turned around?

Inalienable. ‘Ever think about that word? Webster’s defines inalienable as "impossible to take away or give up". So, according to the document on which this country was founded, we have been given Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness (notice that happiness is not guaranteed, just that we have the freedom to strive to be happy… big difference there). These Rights have been granted to us by "The Creator", not by man. And they are inalienable... that is, they can never be taken away. At least that’s what these wise men had in mind when they created the system.

"Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it." - John Adams

So, when our prosperity and safety are threatened by our leaders are we to just sit obediently by as those we have elected to look out for us put our very existence at risk as they pursue their personal agendas? We could, but where would that lead but to give them the impression that they are free to do whatever they chose without fear of consequence?

No, it is our responsibility to our family to protect it from such tyranny! It is our sworn duty to hold those in leadership positions accountable for their actions and to punish and even remove them when their reckless actions have violated the relationship of trust between us and jeopardized the safety of the community. There are rules and they must be followed or changed; they simply cannot be ignored or there is anarchy. Faced with such a situation, we must act, however uncomfortable or unpleasant the chore. We cannot ignore or condone irresponsible behavior because of personal relationships or past benefits received.

If our leaders are incapable of making wise decisions and they repeatedly place us in vulnerable positions, why do we support them and risk their doing even greater harm to the community over time? It makes no sense. When faced with such a situation, one must put individual feelings away and put the safety and success of the community as the only concern and those who are foolish enough to risk everything must be replaced with those whose motives put the prosperity of the community over everything else.

The Founders would have it no other way.

Come to the Carroll Valley Borough Park on July 4th for a heck of good time all day with fireworks to cap off the celebration. They put on an awesome show! Check their website under "Borough News" or for a schedule of events!

Watch out for the Bikers next week!

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