Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Freedom Trumps Your Fake Mandate

My Freedom Trumps Your Fake Mandate

The election of Donald Trump proved to be a major upset of a political and media establishment blinded by hubris. The establishment took their superiority—technological, cultural, economic, moral, etc—for granted and paid the price. They believed they had a mandate to rule and influence the people by virtue of this supposed superiority, but were proven otherwise.

In particular, the fact that Donald Trump’s demotic speech and use of social media bodes well for the future of political debate, left and right alike. What many considered to be Trump’s inarticulate babble ultimately supplanted the refined propaganda techniques of the elite. Donald Trump is certainly an excellent self-promoter, but at least he didn’t sell himself to the masses like soap or the latest pop music phenom in crisp packaging and poll-tested slogans. Trump’s victory was, in a way, a vindication of the everyman’s manner of speaking and his place in the political sphere, and I say this despite my reservations with Trump’s agenda.

“Power gives us a guarantee,” the people will chant, “and set us free from the risks of liberty!”

But, what if the establishment isn’t the only group taking their moral superiority and mandate to rule for granted? What if, in the heat of passion and resentment, the American people are taking their own ideals for granted?

How long can America remain a free society if all we do is pay lip-service to the cornerstone of the American republic—the presumption of individual liberty—without truly defining or defending liberty in the first place? How long can America remain exceptional if we only presume ourselves free and morally superior while demanding the government to act in any way “the people” please, contra the nation’s founding ideals?

If the establishment could be so blind to their impending folly, could the same thing happen to the United States in terms of its standing as a free society? How can any president or Congress have a mandate to rule when they fail to respect the basic point and purpose of American government—to protect individual rights?

How a Free People Can Come to Love Their Serfdom

Say, you thought the human race could not be trusted with their freedom. How would you go about subjugating a people proud of their liberty?

If you tried to do so by sheer force, you would most likely be unsuccessful. Once a people have tasted liberty, they tend to be willing to die to keep it—that is, if they do not kill you first. Resistance to your overt suppressions would be spontaneous and fluid. You would be trying to stop a river with your bare hands. Every single stamp of your boot would create multitudes of martyrs and scores of new enemies devoted to ending your tyrannical aspirations.

Even if you somehow found victory through brute force, your legitimacy would hang by a thread. “Might makes right” is not only a dead letter among thinking men but an invidious invitation to imposters and imitators ready to supplant your rule. Not even tyrants wish to sleep with one eye open night after night. Even they wish to dream in peace once in awhile.

But, what if, instead of this conspicuously violent approach, you were able to put the people themselves to sleep, to hypnotize them? What if you were able to trick a free people into deceiving themselves? What if, in the name of freedom, you could convince a people to forsake their freedom? What if you could nudge them into a suicide pact in the hope of avoiding national suicide?

All concerns are now seen as worthy altars upon which to sacrifice human liberty–as long as they are popular enough.

To do so, you would need to confuse people into thinking their liberty was merely a matter of sharing in the promises of power—say, convince them their right to vote and dictate the lives of others was more important than their individual right to think, speak, and act freely—and then watch their lust for this power make them regard liberty with jealousy and fear.

You would also need to suggest liberty is just another good in the marketplace of ideas rather than the cornerstone of a just society. You could claim liberty should be “balanced” or even sacrificed for the sake of security, wealth, health, equality, or the nation’s greatness. You could do this until the people themselves start singing the same chorus that all the solutions to all the world’s ills have a price tag marked with “our freedom.”

“Power gives us a guarantee,” the people will chant, “and set us free from the risks of liberty!”

Has “What if?” Become Reality?

What if this scenario isn’t merely a hypothetical, but a creeping reality?

Unfortunately, I fear much of the American electorate has reached this point—fearful and jealous of liberty yet hopeful in the promise of power to save them from the ills of the world—and thus, the people are willing to trade their liberties and trample on the liberties of others for the sake of security or even simply keeping the opposition party out of power. In contravention of their constitutional traditions and founding based upon the presumption of liberty, the American people have come to accept a system of government that defines authority not by virtue of individual rights, not by individual moral standards regarding political force, but by the idea that the might and desires of the collective supersedes all other considerations.