The Purpose Of Foundations Of Liberty

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Foundations of Liberty - Statue of Liberty

What Constitutes the Foundations of Liberty ?

There are two key elements that underline the foundations of liberty and upon which all principles of freedom rest. The first is the formal means for containing and limiting the power of government. Without government, chaos rules the day—hence the need to establish a system of rules and guards against the ruthlessness of anarchy. However, the instruments of government used to prevent anarchy can lead to tyranny from those who operate it.

This introduces the second key element in the foundations of liberty—the ideas and beliefs held by those who control the government regarding liberty. History has proven that centers of power (be it governmental or institutional) attract those seeking power to control others. Today there is a denunciation of imposing private morality upon elected officials—as though the only restraint needed by those exercising the force and power of government are the limits given within the government they control.

Hence the requirement for both elements working together to preserve the liberty handed down from our Founding Fathers. Limits of government power will not restrain those who have been given access to that power, for the enticement to abuse that power is greater for most people than any general love of liberty. At the same time, any limits of government may be turned to despotic ends when the limits are not undergirded by a burning desire for liberty within the hearts and minds of those governed.

Additionally, there are seven fundamental principles listed below which build upon these foundations of liberty.

Foundations of Liberty - Founders Political Spectrum

Foundations of Liberty Principle 1 – All Men Are Created Equal

At the most fundamental level this means that there is no natural class of rulers among people, and that all human beings, regardless of religion, sex, or skin color, are equally entitled to the same natural rights (such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness).

Elaborating further on his meaning of this famous phrase within the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson stated: “People are of equal moral worth, and as such deserve equal treatment under the law.” He did not mean that people are literally equal in all things as misinterpreted by progressives and others seeking to justify the redistribution of wealth in America.

Unfortunately many people now think that equal rights are not enough and demand equality of results. They view any inequalities, whether in income or educational attainment, as a sign of injustice. Such claims are misguided. As long as no one’s rights are being denied, inequalities are perfectly normal and desirable expressions of natural diversity.

Foundations of Liberty Principle 2 – Individual Liberty

The principle that each person is born with freedom from arbitrary or unjustified restraint and with immunity from arbitrary exercise of authority. It is demonstrated among a free people through political independence, freedom of choice; and personal freedom from servitude or confinement or oppression. It is the liberty of those persons who are free from external restraint in the exercise of those rights which are considered to be outside the province of a government to control.

However, liberties guaranteed to individuals cannot be granted without any restrictions. To do so would lead to anarchy. There are clearly limits to any personal liberty taking away the rights, safety, and choice from others. Unfortunately, this necessity for restraint has been abused by government to restrict liberties that were protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The First, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments protect personal liberty and the right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion. The Fifth Amendment, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment, says that neither the federal government nor states can deprive citizens of their liberty without due process.

Foundations of Liberty - Rights of Persons and Property, James Madison

Foundations of Liberty Principle 3 – Private Property

Arthur Lee of Virginia wrote in 1775 that property is “the guardian of all other rights.” The Supreme Court declared in 1897: “In a free government almost all other rights would become worthless if the government possessed power over the private fortune of every citizen.” Perhaps recognizing these truths, those seeking to gain more power and diminish the rights of the people (legislators, judges, and political philosophers) have methodically devalued property’s role in protecting freedoms.

A system where individuals have the right to obtain and control possessions, as well as the fruits of their own labor is seen as a system that allows people to determine and control their futures and opportunities. Without private property, there is no escape from state power. Property rights are the protections around each individual’s life that deter political invasions. Those who oppose property rights are usually the same who oppose any limits on government power.

Foundations of Liberty Principle 4 – Limited Government

The Constitution and its accompanying Bill of Rights were written so that the national government has only those powers given to it in the Constitution. If a power is not listed, the national government is assumed not to have it.

In drafting these documents, the Founding Fathers, were determined to prevent the establishment of any tyranny similar to what they experienced under the British Crown. Knowing that over time, any government (no matter how pure its beginning) could evolve into an autocratic system with numerous restraints on individual freedoms, both the articles of the Constitution, and the 10 original amendments to it, were designed to impede that evolution and limit the powers of government.

Foundations of Liberty - Today's Political Spectrum

Foundations of Liberty Principle 5 – Separation of Powers/Check and Balances

The Constitution was designed as a system of distinct powers built into it to prevent an accumulation of power in one branch. Articles One, Two, and Three of the Constitution create three separate branches of government, equal in their level of power, but different in responsibility.

As ardent students of political history, those drafting the Constitution knew it was the nature of government to expand its power. Knowing this, they knew that without the ability for each branch to fend off power grabs from other branches, three branches would end up providing exponential growth in power. By their design, these three branches—legislative, executive, and judicial— compete with each other through certain powers that allow them to “check” the others and “balance” the government.

Foundations of Liberty Principle 6 – Federalism

The United States began as a “confederation” of separate states—hence the Articles of Confederation under which this country was “governed” during the fight for independence. No state wanted to give up its sovereignty in establishing a replacement for the Articles of Confederation. This resulted in a system of dual sovereignty between the states and a national government and why we have the 10th Amendment. With this dual sovereignty the people delegate certain powers to the national government, while the states and the people retain those powers not delegated.

The principles behind this “federal republic” or “democratic republic” divides power both vertically and horizontally and assigns to each level of the government those responsibilities which it can most efficiently and economically administer. Sadly, the 10th has been continuously weakened over the years through the 17th amendment and federal court decisions that have moved more and more power to the federal level.                                                                                                               Ben Garrison Cartoons

Foundations of Liberty -both parties abuse their voters, Ben Garrison

 Foundations of Liberty Principle 7 – Representative Government

A republic is where the people select representatives to represent their interests as they make and carry out laws. A democracy is where the people vote on each law with the majority establishing the laws of the land. A democratic republic is where the majority elect representatives who then establish the laws of the land.

Additionally, in a republic, a constitution protects certain inalienable rights that cannot be taken away by the government, even if it has been elected by a majority of voters. In a “pure democracy,” the majority is not restrained in this way and can impose its will on the minority.



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