Nothing is more precious to us as Americans; nothing is more of valuable to us than our dearly beloved liberty. We, as a people, see our liberty coming not from the good graces of any politician, party, entity, or government. We see it as coming from the divine hand of God; and that it is an inalienable right of all mankind. And, it is through our liberty that we see ourselves; as a people, and as a nation. It has shaped the course of history; it has shaped us as a nation, and the world as a whole. All in all, in this essay, my goal is to show the reader how liberty in America has not just continued to exist, but thrives as well. It is truly a mix of many factors; and it is my argument that these forthcoming factors are truly the reasons why liberty has do so well.
First and foremost, I truly believe ideology plays a key role in all of this. I believe that having liberty is one of the key factors in being an American. It is truly ingrained in our psyche as a people; and it is an overall key part of our society. There is no way that America could have gotten to where she is today, politically, economically, and culturally, without the hard fought for and continuously protected blessing that is liberty. It is part of being American, as I noted before, to protect one’s own liberty; to protect the Bill of Rights from slipping away through your fingers and having the blessing of liberty taken away from you for eternity. Once liberty is gone; it is truly gone forever. Nothing can really bring it back, short of a long and bloody conflict. And because of that fact in particular, America, as a nation, has always been vigilant; always looking out for trouble on the horizon that may pose a threat. And, Americans have been successful in this endeavor so far; even though it has been a really hard road many times over.
However, though Americans do jealously guard their liberties; America has never been a purely libertarian nation. And, neither should it be in my option. All in all, Americans have, from time to time and in proper ways, given up some of their hard fought for liberties to the many governments that represent them. No, Americans are not hypocrites in doing so; and nor have they forgotten history, I contend. I believe Americans understand that there is a give and take; in that a person submits some of their liberties to governments in return for protection and some services. It is a way to create stability; a way to create order. And a way for laws to be drawn up and executed; laws that serve the common public good. However, the people maintain the vast majority of their liberties; as most of the Founding Fathers wanted it to be; and as it should be.
On that note, mentioning the Founding Fathers, a question comes to bear; which is, what did the Founding Fathers really see in liberty? All in all, they saw a lot. I believe they saw a great right; a right, though, that needed to be checked for the betterment of all. James Madison makes the case quite clear in his Federalist No. 10. All in all, Madison, like many other Founding Fathers, was greatly worried about the power of factions (Madison 4-9). And so, with factions on his mind, he wrote about the need for balance; in doing so, he was arguing for the merits of a republican form of government (Madison 4-9). As Madison noted, a republican form of government, a republic, would be a step in the right direction (Madison 4-9). In forming a republic, Madison believed and I agree, that the majority would still rule; however, minority rights would, in the end, be protected (Madison 4-9). On that note, one only has to look at the Electoral College to see a modern day example of Madison’s Federalist No. 10 at work. In the Electoral College the large states, of course, have the more votes; though however, the smaller states still cannot be written off, their votes still matter (Stoner 250). The minority still has a voice. This is much better in contrast to a national direct vote for president, in which these smaller states would have no voice at all (Stoner 250). All in all, I contend that is solution, this forming of an American republic, was truly one of the keys that allowed for the protection of liberty, not just for the minority, but for the majority as well.
However, the Founding Fathers did not just stop at controlling factions as a way to preserve liberty; they also went after government itself. As I noted before, citizens have succeed some of their liberties to their governments, local, state, and Federal, for many reasons. However, what, if anything, is going to stop those governments if they decide that they want more of their citizens’ dearly beloved liberties? The Founding Fathers were greatly concerned about this. And to make sure that never happened; they started with the Federal government. As noted in Madison’s Federalist No. 47, Federalist No. 48, and Federalist No. 51, Madison argued for three separate, though checking, branches of government; those being the executive, legislative, and judicial (Madison 9-18). As Madison famously wrote in Federalist No. 51, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition” (Madison 15). In other words, make the branches of the Federal government check each other; and in doing so, you will protect and preserve liberty. All in all, I strongly agree with Madison’s train of thought; he brings up some very good points.
However, the Founding Fathers did not just stop there; they also set up the ideal of federalism in our new great republic. As also noted in Madison’s Federalist No. 51, Madison argued for the creation of a “compound republic of America” (Madison 16). In other words, what he was arguing for was not just division of power and checks within the branches of the Federal government itself; but, the division of power between the Federal government and the several States (Madison 16). Translating that even further, Madison was, in fact, arguing for a degree of local autonomy, state sovereignty, and the ability for the Federal and state governments to check one another (Madison 16). As a fellow Virginian, I applaud his vision. I believe, very strongly, that a degree of local autonomy and state sovereignty allows for the greatest protection of our dearly held liberties from a tyrannical Federal government; or that could just be the Virginian blood in me talking. Either way, Madison’s vision is right on the money when it comes to the issue of protecting our dearly held liberties.
All in all, liberty has thrived because it has been protected; both by citizens who hold it dear, and by the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, who divided and checked the powers of government. Also, looking back over the history of our great nation, I can declare without a doubt that the sphere of liberty has generally expanded over time. In my option, this is due to suffrage; suffrage for African Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth. All in all, suffrage for these groups have meant greater civil participation at the ballot box; thereby, expanding to them the most important of all their liberties. And that is, the right to be able to participant in the democratic process.
In conclusion, it should be quite apparent now that there is truly a mix of many factors; factors, which have contributed to continual existence of liberty; as well as, its thriving within the American nation. All in all, it has shaped the course of history; it has shaped us as a nation, and the world as a whole. Without liberty, America would be a very different place for the worst that is; thank God for the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, they knew what they were doing.
Madison, James. “Federalist No. 10.” Perspectives on American Politics. 5th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.
Madison, James. “Federalist No. 47.” Perspectives on American Politics. 5th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.
Madison, James. “Federalist No. 48.” Perspectives on American Politics. 5th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.
Madison, James. “Federalist No. 51.” Perspectives on American Politics. 5th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.
Stoner, James. “In Defense of the Electoral College.” Perspectives on American Politics. 5th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. Print.