Land of the Free?

John M. Horne was born in 1813 in the Land of the Free, an inheritance from several distant uncles who fought against Cornwallis The home of the brave came before the land of the free. 

Shortly after John and Clarissa Warren married in 1843, they made the long journey from North Carolina to western Kentucky. Their simple farm life was free from any king or tyrant in a distant capital. In the land of the free, no one could tell them what to do with their property or how much of their money they could keep.

John died sometime between 1860 and 1870, perhaps in the Civil War. His teenage son, John C., took the responsibility of caring for Clarissa and his sister, and later had his own family and care for two orphaned grandchildren. Courage to take personal responsibility is required to live in the land of the free. 

An older John C. witnessed the “soak the rich” campaign resulting in the 16th Amendment, the income tax. For the first time in the nation’s history, government was positioned against the individual citizen. How much of that citizen’s property could be confiscated and for what purpose was limited only by the “wisdom” of Congress. Taxpayers later found their funds going to subsidize indolence, to groups with political connections, and for other uses outside the limits on the federal government the Founders clearly wrote into the Constitution.

As far as the IRS is concerned, all men are not created equal. In the land of the free, an individual has an inalienable right to his property, but not in the land of the IRS. Productive citizens became slaves to others, like indentured servants who can never buy their freedom. The Founders abhorred such a concept.  Every April, some Americans quietly pay, while others collect their share of redistribution, as if it flowed from some eternal mountain spring. In the home of the brave, theft is resisted, and extorted money is not accepted.    

With extorted money available, the land of the free became increasingly buried under progressive mega-government, like FDR’s second Bill of Rights and Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. The left argued that that complex nature of modern society requires more government control. So did Benito Mussolini in 1929:

We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by civilization, the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become.

FDR, said to be for the little guy, stated in his first Inaugural Address that the nation must act “as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline.” This sacrificing collective evidently included all the little guys. The land of the free was passé.

We have since “progressed” to a level of government coercion that makes King George III look like a benevolent grandfather by comparison. Imagine somewhere in our time, John Q. (no relation) drives his car, with all the government-mandated features, to the supermarket to return the pecan cake which had been recalled due to lack of an allergy warning label. He bought the cake because home-baked goods are not allowed at school fundraisers. He was already in hot water for saying “God help us” when the school board changed the football team’s name from the Indians to the Turtles over loud objections of those attending the meeting. 

Nearly everything John Q. found at the supermarket was government regulated or inspected, even the light bulbs. The supermarket was in full compliance, spending thousands to remodel its bathrooms because the government inspector said the sinks were one inch too high. He couldn’t spend much time at the supermarket. He wanted to visit his friend, Lou, whose daughter had been taken by the state in a dispute over her medical care. He also wanted to call Hal, who was losing his job at the power plant due to new EPA regulations. Then he had to hurry back to his office since he had promised to review the 20,000 pages of regulations for the so-called “Affordable Care Act” to see which affected his company. It seemed like too much, but John Q. took pride in always complying with the law. On the way back home, he felt vaguely uneasy, but wasn’t sure why.

John M. would be horrified, even more so should he find out the Agriculture Department has its own SWAT team. John would probably wonder why we even need a Department of Agriculture.

Seeing a country where the president’s wife can dictate what your child eats for lunch, and where local authorities can shut down your daughter’s lemonade stand, John M. would not be surprised that a law was passed obscenely incompatible with the land of the free.

ObamaCare was claimed to be within the government’s power to tax, and is to be enforced by – why, the IRS, of course. Most Americans didn’t want it and still don’t. It was passed over angry objections at town-hall meetings, the will of the people be damned. The will of the people, the land of the free, is an obstacle to progressives. As Mark Levin puts it:

For the Statist, liberty is not a blessing but the enemy. It is not possible to achieve Utopia if individuals are free to go their own way. The individual must be dehumanized and his nature delegitimized. 

Will Americans allow ourselves to be dehumanized and run in fear to a government website as commanded, or will we be brave and refuse? It doesn’t require that much courage, nothing compared to the men in the Valley Forge winter with no shoes.

It doesn’t take much courage to vote for liberty, if there is any on the ballot. To choose a subsidy is to steal someone else’s freedom, and eventually everyone’s.  Resisting tyranny, small or large, requires the courage of a George Washington, who rode around the battlefield despite all the shots fired at him. No George Washington could be found at the IRS, OSHA, FBI, or ATF brave enough to stand against their agencies’ harassment of administration opponents. In the home of the brave, at least one would have been proud to be against tyranny.

Tyranny begins with the consent of the victims who fail to oppose it or even encourage it. Bravery in the men and women of the armed forces, police officers, emergency responders, and the like is not enough if many Americans vote away their liberties. Those unwilling stand up for the land of the free, or vote to destroy it, forfeit the right to live in it, and won’t in the end. 

There is a scene in the movie Dr. Zhivago in which they are being relocated by rail. Chained in the corner of the box car is a young man. He berates the others for what they are passively allowing to happen. “I am the only free man on this train,” he cries, shaking his chains.

The others pay no attention. Such are we the American people, riding along in silence until the land of the free will exist only in the song. 

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