Remembering When We Used To Be Free

by Lisa Mathews | July 3rd, 2013

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Remembering When We Used To Be Free

Her­man Cain had a great line that he would use dur­ing his cam­paign speeches where he would say that if we aren’t care­ful, we will spend our sun­set years telling our grand­chil­dren of when we “used to be free.” He would go on to say, “That is not a con­ver­sa­tion I want to have with my grand­chil­dren.” (You can watch it here. Go to around 2:20 of the video). Of course, this drew thun­der­ous applause and was a great line. I had the oppor­tu­nity to see Her­man Cain speak in per­son sev­eral times dur­ing his run in the pri­maries. He is a com­pelling speaker, one of the best I’ve ever seen. His abil­ity to draw in the crowd is one of the rea­sons his cam­paign went as far as it did, I think.

How­ever, reflect­ing back on the line about remem­ber­ing when we used to be free, I never thought that I would agree with him so quickly that many of our free­doms are in the past. There is no way around it, this is a depress­ing time for con­ser­v­a­tives. It has only been 6 months since Pres­i­dent Obama started his sec­ond term in office. His admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to release thou­sands of reg­u­la­tions that reduce our free­doms and crip­ple our econ­omy. These reg­u­la­tions occur from every depart­ment, from Agri­cul­ture to the EPA and so on.

Reli­gious lib­erty is tak­ing a hit like noth­ing I’ve ever seen in my life. It was a given for most of my life (at least from my per­spec­tive), that I lived in a soci­ety that is tied together by our Judeo-​Christian tra­di­tion and shared val­ues. I knew there were those that didn’t believe these things, but most did. Naïve per­haps, but what we have now is the most brazen attack on reli­gion that I really am afraid we’ve hit a turn­ing point where reli­gious indi­vid­u­als who live their faith are rel­e­gated to the minor­ity in a way that is irreversible.

The will of the peo­ple has been dimin­ished as courts rule the day. Our abil­ity to fight back and gov­ern our­selves is lim­ited to what judges allow instead of what peo­ple want. California’s cit­i­zens, for instance, did every­thing in their power to stop same-​sex mar­riage. They voted twice as a state against it. But, polit­i­cal maneu­ver­ing and the dere­lic­tion of duty by state offi­cials led to the voice of the peo­ple being over­thrown. Feel­ing empow­ered, well-​funded orga­ni­za­tions such as the Free­dom From Reli­gion Foun­da­tion are stag­ing bat­tles at every front to com­pletely remove any expres­sion of reli­gion from the pub­lic square.

Does any­one really think that the Found­ing gen­er­a­tion would have ever thought that there would be nearly 3 mil­lion peo­ple employed by the Exec­u­tive Branch alone? Even if they knew how many peo­ple are in the coun­try now, would they ever have thought that the pow­ers afforded to the exec­u­tive branch would war­rant so many employ­ees? What are these indi­vid­u­als doing, they would ask. Are they only per­form­ing the lim­ited pow­ers out­lined in the Con­sti­tu­tion? Cer­tainly not. The gov­ern­ment has become a bloated, freedom-​robbing glob that reg­u­lates and taxes every­thing it sees, regard­less of the result­ing con­trac­tion of lib­erty spo­ken of by Ronald Reagan.

Now, look­ing back at the his­tor­i­cal count of Exec­u­tive Branch employ­ees (see this link), you might say, “but Lisa, the num­ber has been over 2 mil­lion since at least 1962, so this is not all Obama’s fault.” I say to that, who cares? At this point, who really cares whose fault it is? Does it really mat­ter? Let’s just fix it going for­ward. This isn’t about blam­ing or point­ing fingers.

So, here we are on Inde­pen­dence Day Eve. We will attend bar­be­ques tomor­row and look at fire­works. We will cel­e­brate a coun­try that was founded on ideals that were the most unique ever con­ceived in his­tory. Our coun­try was a pre­cious thing, an ideal, a vision. The idea that “all men are cre­ated equal” was a bea­con at the time for the world, an exam­ple. It was the first time in the his­tory of the world that such ideals were the basis for the found­ing of a nation, a nation that for those rea­sons alone became the great­est in all of history.

Now, we as a nation are choos­ing to not be free. We are choos­ing to give up those lib­er­ties that the Founders rec­og­nized were not the government’s to give in the first place. They were ours before any gov­ern­ment ever existed, given to us by God. Our free­dom to live as our reli­gious con­scious would dic­tate is sacred. Yet, now a com­pany like Hobby Lobby is spend­ing mil­lions so that it doesn’t have to fund abortive con­tra­cep­tives in its health plan. Am I the only one that under­stands how con­vo­luted that is? Imag­ine in the fram­ing era say­ing, “in the future, the gov­ern­ment will be so intru­sive that it will dic­tate what ben­e­fits must be pro­vided by com­pa­nies, even if they are squarely opposed by the deeply-​held reli­gious beliefs of the company’s own­ers.” How absurd would that have sounded to them!

And yet, here we are. We have worked our way into a pret­zel. Admit­tedly, much of this was insti­tu­tion­al­ized dur­ing the New Deal, but in today’s world where we are arguably liv­ing through the New New Deal, we are so entrenched in this that the ideals of the Tea Party are con­sid­ered to be extreme!

As I real­ize that Her­man Cain was right on track and mourn for my coun­try, I find myself think­ing about the boil­ing frog syn­drome. We don’t even notice it anymore.

frogpot2

We walk around every day think­ing we are free, but the very car we bought, the very toi­let seat in our home, the way we are allowed to raise our chil­dren, the way we run our busi­nesses, and every other detail in our lives is reg­u­lated in some way by the gov­ern­ment. I went to China last sum­mer, and do you know that most of them think they are free, too? When will we finally wake up and vote based on what is right for our coun­try instead of who gives a bet­ter sound bite?

This Fourth of July in the midst of all of the fes­tiv­i­ties, let’s recom­mit our­selves to fight for these ideals and pray for our fel­low Amer­i­cans, that they will wake up before we, like the frog, find our­selves in boil­ing water.

Lisa @ Amer​i​cais​Con​ser​v​a​tive​.org

Herman Cain had a great line that he would use during his campaign speeches where he would say that if we aren’t careful, we will spend our sunset years telling our grandchildren of when we “used to be free.”  He would go on to say, “That is not a conversation I want to have with my grandchildren.”  (You can watch it here.  Go to around 2:20 of the video). Of course, this drew thunderous applause and was a great line.  I had the opportunity to see Herman Cain speak in person several times during his run in the primaries.  He is a compelling speaker, one of the best I’ve ever seen.  His ability to draw in the crowd is one of the reasons his campaign went as far as it did, I think.

However, reflecting back on the line about remembering when we used to be free, I never thought that I would agree with him so quickly that many of our freedoms are in the past.  There is no way around it, this is a depressing time for conservatives.  It has only been 6 months since President Obama started his second term in office.  His administration continues to release thousands of regulations that reduce our freedoms and cripple our economy.  These regulations occur from every department, from Agriculture to the EPA and so on.

Religious liberty is taking a hit like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was a given for most of my life (at least from my perspective), that I lived in a society that is tied together by our Judeo-Christian tradition and shared values.  I knew there were those that didn’t believe these things, but most did.  Naïve perhaps, but what we have now is the most brazen attack on religion that I really am afraid we’ve hit a turning point where religious individuals who live their faith are relegated to the minority in a way that is irreversible.

The will of the people has been diminished as courts rule the day.  Our ability to fight back and govern ourselves is limited to what judges allow instead of what people want.  California’s citizens, for instance, did everything in their power to stop same-sex marriage.  They voted twice as a state against it.  But, political maneuvering and the dereliction of duty by state officials led to the voice of the people being overthrown.  Feeling empowered, well-funded organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation are staging battles at every front to completely remove any expression of religion from the public square.

Does anyone really think that the Founding generation would have ever thought that there would be nearly 3 million people employed by the Executive Branch alone?  Even if they knew how many people are in the country now, would they ever have thought that the powers afforded to the executive branch would warrant so many employees?  What are these individuals doing, they would ask.  Are they only performing the limited powers outlined in the Constitution?  Certainly not.  The government has become a bloated, freedom-robbing glob that regulates and taxes everything it sees, regardless of the resulting contraction of liberty spoken of by Ronald Reagan.

Now, looking back at the historical count of Executive Branch employees (see this link), you might say, “but Lisa, the number has been over 2 million since at least 1962, so this is not all Obama’s fault.”  I say to that, who cares?  At this point, who really cares whose fault it is?  Does it really  matter?  Let’s just fix it going forward.  This isn’t about blaming or pointing fingers.

So, here we are on Independence Day Eve.  We will attend barbeques tomorrow and look at fireworks.  We will celebrate a country that was founded on ideals that were the most unique ever conceived in history.  Our country was a precious thing, an ideal, a vision.  The idea that “all men are created equal” was a beacon at the time for the world, an example.  It was the first time in the history of the world that such ideals were the basis for the founding of a nation, a nation that for those reasons alone became the greatest in all of history.

Now, we as a nation are choosing to not be free.  We are choosing to give up those liberties that the Founders recognized were not the government’s to give in the first place.  They were ours before any government ever existed, given to us by God.  Our freedom to live as our religious conscious would dictate is sacred.  Yet, now a company like Hobby Lobby is spending millions so that it doesn’t have to fund abortive contraceptives in its health plan.  Am I the only one that understands how convoluted that is?  Imagine in the framing era saying, “in the future, the government will be so intrusive that it will dictate what benefits must be provided by companies, even if they are squarely opposed by the deeply-held religious beliefs of the company’s owners.”  How absurd would that have sounded to them!

And yet, here we are.  We have worked our way into a pretzel.  Admittedly, much of this was institutionalized during the New Deal, but in today’s world where we are arguably living through the New New Deal, we are so entrenched in this that the ideals of the Tea Party are considered to be extreme!

As I realize that Herman Cain was right on track and mourn for my country, I find myself thinking about the boiling frog syndrome.  We don’t even notice it anymore.

frogpot2

We walk around every day thinking we are free, but the very car we bought, the very toilet seat in our home, the way we are allowed to raise our children, the way we run our businesses, and every other detail in our lives is regulated in some way by the government.  I went to China last summer, and do you know that most of them think they are free, too?  When will we finally wake up and vote based on what is right for our country instead of who gives a better sound bite?

This Fourth of July in the midst of all of the festivities, let’s recommit ourselves to fight for these ideals and pray for our fellow Americans, that they will wake up before we, like the frog, find ourselves in boiling water.

Lisa @ AmericaisConservative.org

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