Last week I listened to the first of two Words & Numbers podcast episodes discussing the American Revolution on a morning walk, and before I could make it home, I was weeping.
The show’s guest, Rob McDonald, is an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and has recently written and published The American Revolution, a collection of critical documents that led up to and surrounded the pivotal event in American history.
Our forefathers were fighting for our rights, as McDonald said on the episode, as human beings.
And when he said the original American Revolution, wasn’t about being citizens, it was about being human, that’s when I cried.
In the Libertarian Party we are not just talking about preserving our own rights. We are not about preserving the rights of some – not even the majority – we are about ensuring the rights of everyone. Because we are all human beings.
It’s a challenging perspective, to be sure. If I protect my right to free speech, I have to allow others the same free speech. Even when they say something that offends me.
If I protect my liberty, I have to protect others’ liberty. Even when they don’t wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
If I protect my sovereignty, I have to protect others’ personal sovereignty as well. Even if they take drugs, abuse alcohol, end a pregnancy, or carry a weapon.
All the rights. All the time.
McDonald pointed out that the Revolution really began in the minds of American citizens when they recognized a core principle: A man’s home is his castle. If, as McDonald said, a man’s home is his castle, then he is the King of his own domain. And if he is king, then no one else can be.
That means, in modern terms, a person’s home is that person’s sovereign property over which the person has complete dominion. Which means the government cannot impose upon that sovereignty in any way.
I can marry whomever I choose. I can have as many offspring as I choose. I can educate those offspring in any way I see fit. I can decorate, maintain, and embellish my home in whatever ways I choose.
On a walk through my neighborhood while listening, I immediately think, “Yeah, take that Homeowners Association!”
And that’s exactly the trouble. We have allowed entities that are not representative of our beliefs rob us of our rights. In all aspects of our lives. From the HOA deciding what kind of mailbox I should have – and fining me if I don’t comply – to the local government levying taxes according to the home’s perceived value. Every direction I look, I am being pushed around by entities of authority who derive their power not from my consent, but through coercion.
I feel so overwhelmed with the powerlessness of it that it’s difficult to stave off the tears even now, as I write this. My sentiment is not anti-American. It is, in fact, the very roots of my patriotism.
We are free people first.
I continued listening, kept walking, and heard the hosts ask McDonald if he thought we were barreling headlong toward another revolution. They mentioned civil asset forfeiture and no knock raids as specific violations of our quintessential rights. (At this point I was already sobbing.)
McDonald said the American Revolution was meant to be the Revolution that ended all other revolutions. We built, he said, a system that could be corrected.
We can bring ourselves back from this. From governors telling us we must stay home, close our businesses, or send our children back to school five days-a-week. We must remind them that their authority is derived from the consent of the governed. They cannot mandate safety, use a press conference to decree essential businesses, or executive order our children into unsafe environments.
We are free people. And free people do not need their government’s permission to do what’s best for their own families. It’s time we take back the rights afforded to us not just as citizens, but as human beings.
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