It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.
Most Americans, whether liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, do not show much understanding or respect for the principles of personal liberty. We criticize our political leaders, but we must recognize that their behavior simply reflects the values of people who elected them to office. That means we are all to blame for greater governmental control over our lives and a decline in personal liberty. Let me outline some fundamental principles of liberty.
The press is hostile to the idea of liberty. Most people in the press are for big government. Most people think that the solution to anything, whether it’s health care problems, education, whatever it is — it’s got to be more government.
If liberty is worth keeping and free representative government worth saving, we must stand for all American fundamentals — not some, but all. All are woven into the great fabric of our national well-being. We cannot hold fast to some only, and abandon others that, for the moment, we find inconvenient. If one American fundamental is prostrated, others in the end will surely fall.
We’ve witnessed a fire sale of American liberties at bargain basement prices, in return for the false promise of more security … The America being designed right now won’t resemble the America we’ve been defending … The danger isn’t that Big Brother may storm the castle gates. The danger is that Americans don’t realize that he is already inside the castle walls.
Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law, and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government. That’s why, if we want to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans, we have no choice but to fight for those principles.
Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual liberty.
Nations that have pursued equality, like the Iron Curtain countries, I think have finished up with neither equality, nor liberty. Nations, which like us, in the past have pursued liberty, as a fundamental objective, extending it to all, have finished up with liberty, human dignity, and far fewer inequalities than other people.
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power, not the increase of it.