(This article was originally published on Feb. 25th, 2007 at American Chronicle.)
I wonder how many people in this country of ours can actually answer that question by looking on a map. I know, many of you are saying America is a large country situated on the North American continent between Canada and Mexico with Alaska being a large chunk of land situated north of the rest of the country on the western side of Canada and Hawaii a small chain of islands situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But that’s not all America is. America is far more than just a physical place, a land where some three hundred million people live, work, play and die. America is an idea. It is the idea that people can live out their lives while enjoying freedom and liberty. It is the idea that I know what’s best for me and you know what’s best for you. It is the idea that one can live however one pleases so long as he does not harm another. It is the idea that one can go about one’s business of living without government interference or mandates. I wish to know where this America is, for in today’s world such a place does not exist. Every day I have to live with the threat of government putting its hand in my affairs. Whether it be that I am forced to buckle my seatbelt to drive my car, that I won’t be able to light up as I sit at the bar enjoying a beverage, that I am forced to give a portion of my money to some faceless bureaucrat so he can redistribute it, or that I have to be extremely careful about who I associate with on the Internet, the government attempts to pry into every aspect of modern life. This is not America. At least, it’s not the America I learned about as a child. Where is America?
This country that we live in has become corrupt to the core. Corruption, like a cancer, grows and metastasizes as its tendrils reach into every system and subsystem of the body politic. Soon, the whole entity is sick with it. It begins to permeate not only government, but the foundations society is built upon. It begins to seem as though corruption is the norm rather than the exception. It gets to the point where it seems the only way to get ahead is to become corrupt, become part of the cancer. An honest business man hardly stands a chance as the government regulates him into bankruptcy. An honest worker finds himself drowning in debt as the government taxes his earnings to the point where he can’t pay his bills. Yet government continues to grow, continues to spend the money we haven’t even earned yet, and as the government grows, so does corruption. Soon, the only businesses left are those with government contracts, those with government connections, those that have donated to the campaigns of elected officials. Soon, the only jobs available are government jobs, or jobs tied to the government. The system morphs into one of state owned means rather than private enterprise. This is not America. We need fewer regulations, not more.
The country we live in has become arrogant and belligerent. Our government has carried out wars of aggression against other nations. Our government has invaded and occupied countries which no longer welcome us. Our government seems to feel obliged to force our way of life on other peoples. Our government now rules the people of this nation by fear. We are told to fear the next terrorist attack. We are told to fear weapons of mass destruction. We are told to fear a dirty bomb. We are told to fear the Muslim, or the Arab, or the man with the funny accent. This fear is used as an excuse for the government to spy on its people. Dissent is squelched. Questions are frowned upon. Those that ask questions and chose to dissent are criticized, ostracized and even threatened with imprisonment. And so the fear perpetuates itself. We now fear the government. Soon, we will fear each other. Already, we have begun to spy on one another. More and more the society resembles a police state much like that of Hitler’s Germany. This is not America. We need to be the peace makers, not the warriors. We need to be friendly to our neighbors, not suspicious of them. We need less government and fewer laws, not more.
The other night I was listening to a radio talk show called Free Talk Live. Actually, I’ve been listening to the show for quite some time now. It’s hosted by a couple of young gentlemen who espouse the virtues of libertarianism. It’s a show I wish I had thought of and been able to do twenty years ago, but I guess everything comes to be in its own time. This show has a powerful message of hope, for if we all pay attention to its message and act upon it, America may yet be America again. Anyway, the other day when I was listening, one of the hosts said something very interesting. He made the claim that being libertarian meant more than just belonging to a political party, it was a way life. I thought about this, and decided he was right.
This is where America is. It lives in the hearts and minds of those who practice libertarianism. It breathes in those who believe in the rights of the individual and personal responsibility. Its spirit lives on in those who understand tyranny and speak out against it, though the majority may be in favor of it. Being Libertarian is being American. It is respecting the rights of others to make up their own minds, to take care of their own business, to recreate in their own way and to live their own lives. America is not just a place, it’s a way of life. America is still here despite all the attempts of the president and congress to legislate it into the dustbin of history. Freedom and liberty are powerful ideas that, once planted in the hearts and minds of the populace, are hard to kill. If we give these ideas a little water, if we pay just a little bit of attention to them, they will grow and spread like wild flowers in our garden. Then we can have hope for our future. Then we can find America in this place once again.