Have a few quotes from the greatest of all Americans, the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson:
“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive.”
“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and is as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
“God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, & always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty…. [W]hat country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms….The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Now let’s talk about insurance.
Do you own a home? Drive? Have a heartbeat? If you answered yes to any one of those three questions, you probably have insurance. Almost certainly, in fact. Nothing to be bashful about; it’s a common choice, and usually a wise one. But insurance of any sort is invariably accompanied by premium payments. Those can be annoying.
We insure those possessions we value and wouldn’t want to do without. Generally, the value we put upon a thing will determine the size of the premium payment for it. They’re not directly proportional to one another, but the dependence is clear.
Of course, if you fail to pay your premiums, your insurance policy will cease to cover you. In that case, should calamity befall you and rob you of your possession, your insurer will disclaim all liability: “You didn’t pay! Did you expect coverage for no cost? A pox on thee!” And so it is and has always been.
Not everything can be insured. Some possessions are by their nature so evanescent that no insurer would write a policy to cover them. Try finding someone that will insure that gallon of milk you just bought; you’ll get the idea at once. Only the durable are insurable.
Some things prove durable only when they’re insured.
I doubt my Gentle Readers have missed the point I’ve been circling, these past few hundred words. We speak of individual rights to life, liberty, and justly acquired property. We maintain that the United States is founded on those rights – that here, alone among all the nations on Earth, are those rights explicitly proclaimed and respected. And we go from such orations to our Independence Day barbecues, willfully blinding ourselves to the loss of all three of them.
A right is a possession. It’s one of the kind that’s only durable when insured. And we didn’t pay the premiums.
It’s been said that our rights reside in four boxes: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Have we bothered to maintain the integrity of those boxes? I think not.
The first time some officious type tried to limit our right to keep and bear arms, or dictate on what terms we may produce or trade, or tell us what we may put into our bodies, he should have been dragged into the public square and hanged for the edification of our children. He wasn’t, nor have any of his successors in villainy.
The first time some judge proclaimed that some provision of the Constitution doesn’t mean what it plainly says, or asserted that some have a “right” to others’ property, or tried to tell a jury that they must vote according to “the law” as he pronounced it, that judge should have been stripped of his robes, tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail. I can remember no such comeuppance.
The first time some legislator opposed proof of citizenship as a precondition for voting, or proclaimed that the “right to vote” belongs to everyone regardless of anything else, the miscreant should have received an immediate acquaintance with the bastinado, and afterward paraded through the streets wearing a sandwich sign reading “I’m An Idiot.” I don’t think it happened.
And of course, the first person who asserted that “freedom of expression has limits” or “the Constitution is a living document that must be interpreted according to contemporary thought” should have been staked out on an anthill. Nope, no reports of that, either.
To rise against such persons and punish them as they deserve is the premium payment for our rights. We’ve defaulted on all of them. Our defaults have emboldened successive generations of would-be tyrants. Those tyrants have gradually made deeper and deeper inroads into our rights. And so today, our rights are gone. Everything requires permission, if it’s “legal” in any case whatsoever. And such permissions depend upon the whims of persons whose power lies in denying them.
The willingness to rebel – to rise up in arms and take down those who would infringe upon our rights – is the insurance for freedom. But that willingness must be demonstrated. Otherwise, those who would subjugate us swiftly cease to believe it. Because of our protracted non-payment, the policy has lapsed.
Our legacy of freedom has required defense on innumerable occasions…defense it didn’t get. We defaulted; indeed, we became serial non-payers. What else could we have expected to follow than what we suffer today?
I don’t exempt myself. For much of my life I was numb to the necessity and the urgency of it. Others have had their roles to play as well, whether or not they accepted them.
Robert A. Heinlein once titled a hortatory essay “Who are the Heirs of Patrick Henry?” It’s a good question. Indeed, it’s the question for our place and time. I can’t answer it for you. It’s yours to ponder.
Happy Independence Day.