Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Watering the Tree of Liberty

I was listening recently to a comment about a recent protester at an Obama rally who had a shirt mentioning "watering the Tree of Liberty" which, of course, comes from Thomas Jefferson's famous quote "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Unfortunately, the situation is more bleak than he seems to realize. The Revolution of 1776 work only because the majority of the colonists, through the unanimous approval of their elected representatives, supported first the revolution and then the Constitution. Though we certainly don't have a Constitutionally limited government anymore, we clearly still have a democracy (in fact, the root of the problem is that we have too much of a democracy and not enough of a republic). This means that our government oversteps the powers granted it by the Constitution not in spite of the approval of the majority, but because the majority wants it. This is of critical importance to this protester's cause.

If we can convince most Americans that limited government is needed to secure our freedoms, then an armed revolution is unnecessary. If we can't convince them, it is insufficient. Even if we overthrew the government it is only through tyranny that we could inflict "freedom" on a populace that wants to vote themselves the fruits of others' labor.

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