Selwyn Duke
August 31, 2004
The Defense Against Tyranny Amendment
By Selwyn Duke

If I asked some of my countrymen what the most pressing issues facing the America of the twenty-first century were, I would get a multitude of different answers. Terrorism might be number one on the list and, indeed, it certainly deserves a prominent position. But I very much doubt that anyone would mention what is the greatest threat to our freedom, bar none: the proliferation of laws, regulations and mandates.

If you think that Osama Bin Laden threatens our liberty, think again. He and his minions can blow up airplanes and buildings and they certainly need to be combatted, but they can no more strip us of freedom than they can bestow it upon us. They can rob us of life, but liberty and the pursuit of happiness fall victim to terrorists who sit in the Houses of Congress.

That, my friends, is not opinion, but fact. You see, freedom is taken away through the enactment of laws, regulations and mandates, because they state that there is something you may not do or something you must. And, obviously, if the former then you are not free to do it; if the latter then you are not free to do otherwise. Therefore, the more laws you have the less free you are. And what happens every year in the erstwhile land of the free? We enact a multitude more laws and rescind almost none. Consequently, every year we are progressively less free.

The above is so painfully obvious that the only explanation for why almost no one sounds the alarm about it is that it's hiding in plain sight. Talk of freedom is much like that of spirituality: most folks like to say they believe in spirituality because it sounds cool. But few bother to find out what spirituality actually means or involves. Now, I have explained how freedom is robbed from us, but what would protecting it actually involve? How do we stop this seemingly inexorable march toward a point where there will be a law governing every want and need, a situation otherwise known as totalitarianism? I have the answer, and I call it "The Defense Against Tyranny Amendment."

The principle behind this proposal is simple: place a constitutionally mandated cap on the number of laws that can be created. What the cap actually would be would have to be determined, although I would favor a figure much lower than the total number of laws presently in existence. This, of course, would require lawmakers to finally become law-takers, as they would have to strike legislation from the books until they reached the threshold imposed by the amendment. Regardless of what ceiling we imposed, though, once it was reached, politicians couldn't strip away another freedom without resurrecting one that had previously gone the way of the dodo. Quite simply, if they wanted to enact a new law they would have to rescind an old one. This would ensure that the total amount of freedom [if not the type] we enjoyed would remain constant and at the level we deem necessary to remain a free people.

This would be the magic bullet, the stake through the heart of the big government beast. And after all, when we speak of limited government we're not talking about smoke-and-mirrors reforms like reducing the federal workforce. We're not even talking about reducing taxation, although that is a critical factor. Those things are well and good, but the very kernel of any diminution of government is the making of it less intrusive getting it out of our lives and allowing the individual to act in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience as much as possible. We should be enacting only just laws, not just enacting laws.

The above is as simple as two plus two equals four, but when do we ever hear a statesman address this, the one and only threat to our freedom? Almost never. And when politicians fail to, they render themselves unfit to hold office. For if there ever was a legitimate role of government, it's to preserve liberty. It's what our founding fathers risked being hanged for; it's the greatest thing in the realm of government that we can bequeath to our children. Therefore, a politician who does not articulate the danger posed to us by burgeoning laws is either ignorant of where his duty lies or, worse still, is selling his soul and America's heart for votes. He has abdicated his responsibility to don the mantle that the founders would place upon his shoulders.

As rooted in common-sense as what I have laid out is, I'm not so naive as to think that no one would oppose the Defense Against Tyranny Amendment. Some people have deified government to the point that the prospect of shackling Big Brother's controlling hands terrifies them. If we decide as a nation that we will cast our lot with those statists and do nothing to cure the disease of creeping totalitarianism, then that's our choice and our fate. But then all our talk about being the freest nation on Earth, about how we're fighting to preserve liberty and all the other utterances to that effect are just that talk. Bear in mind that in this land of the free we already have over 250,000 laws on the books. If we cannot maintain a civilization with half that number, then it's time to throw in the towel. And then we should just drop the pretense of being a freedom loving people, because inaction speaks louder than words.

© Selwyn Duke

 

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Selwyn Duke

Selwyn Duke is a writer, columnist and public speaker whose work has been published widely online and in print, on both the local and national levels... (more)

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