There is a massive aluminum sculpture of a giant emerging from beneath the earth, struggling to free himself, located at the National Harbor just outside of Washington, D.C. It is some 70 feet long and is entitled the Awakening. It is a magnificent spectacle. The creation of sculptor J. Seward Johnson, Jr., the Awakening was first located at Hains Point in Washington, D.C. in 1980. The Awakening seems to me an apt metaphor for our entire nation rising from a long slumber, expressing a collective will to reject servitude in favor of freedom.
One would hope that by November 2012 Americans would awaken to the reality that another four years of Barack Obama will add greatly to the depth of the earthen grave that this President has created for American commerce. One would hope that Americans would then choose to liberate the giant of free enterprise, allowing it to emerge from the burial plot Obama has created for it and sending Obama back to Chicago and to oblivion. But if we fail to remove Obama from office, the overwhelming force of a national debt racing past $16 trillion and a regulatory state bringing disabling markets at every turn will yield in time a collapse of the economy and, in turn, of the government that lives off of it. Then, for sure, the American people will awake by necessity.
They will awake to the realization that political promises of federal programs to cure every ill were lies. They will awake to the realization that with the advance of every regulatory agency there has been a retreat of individual liberty and prosperity. They will awake to the realization that our limited federal republic is no more, replaced by a massive, costly, and economically deadening unlimited bureaucratic oligarchy and that individual sovereignty has been replaced by state sovereignty. They will awake to the realization that liberty is indeed precious, best appreciated when lost, and that while asleep our liberty was drained by rapacious political leaders. We will awake to the realization that nothing is more essential than to regain lost liberties and accept the responsibility that comes with them.
It seems to me that the struggle for freedom is the remarkable recurrent force in human history, that no matter how great a nation’s fall into the abyss of state control there is always a revolution to give freedom another chance. We are driven from birth to overcome the shackles that bind. No enfant will put up with a crib beyond the first year because with the ability to climb out comes the will to make freedom a reality. The popular Western, now a classic, Cole Porter’s “Don’t Fence Me In” comes to mind. Regardless of political stripe, when each has been reduced to a life of limited opportunity or pre-determined fate by a government that presumes to know better than the individual what is in that individual’s best interest, all become, as Jefferson remarked at the time of the American revolution, “ good . . . Whigs, cordial in [our] free principles.”
Because we have for so long endured deprivations of liberty that have come with the explosive growth of the regulatory state of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries, there will come with our new awakening indignation, a high degree of anger born of the agony that accompanies profound disappointment and betrayal. And then the voices of the founding generation will ring anew in every American ear. We will remember the meaning and import of the Declaration of Independence. We will appreciate as John Locke did, as Algernon Sidney did, as Edmund Burke did, as Thomas Paine did, as Sam Adams did, and as Thomas Jefferson did that, to quote Paine, “those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” We will throw off the yoke of government and put on the mantle of freedom, assuming responsibility for everything that the government falsely promised it could do for us if only we would be less than free.
At that awakening, which is in truth a reawakening, Americans will rediscover who they were meant to be and what in fact defined them as unique among the peoples of the world for over two hundred years. Around the world people have always yearned to be free but only here, and only for a brief epoch, did we actually achieve the result of a Constitution built on the premise of individual sovereignty and embued with safeguards, long since rent and violated, to ensure that the national government would be strictly limited and would not stand in the way of freedom and progress.
Those lessons were derived from centuries of servitude to absolute monarchs and a rights revolution during the Enlightenment Era that swept Europe but culminated only here in a written Constitution for a government intended to be disabled, inefficient, and largely irrelevant except in the most extraordinary of circumstances. My how things have changed, and not at all for the better.
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But the promise of liberty and the indispensability of it to our own self-determination make it irresistible. The desire to be free is a far greater force than any other influencing the mind of man. We will be free, again. We will get there even if this time we must endure a long and painful decline into the depths of despair before we all embrace a mighty hope, fed by our collective memory of who we once were; translated, that hope will yield action from all, for the simple fact remains humanity cannot long endure life without liberty.
� 2012 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved