By Kyle Singh
As we approach the day to celebrate the birth of our nation, it is more important than ever to understand the tenets on which our founding fathers built our country as well as the values we must defend as ourselves and further generations continue to progress this great land. After our independence in 1776, our founders set off on a journey to lay the foundations of the United States. Inspired by thinkers of the enlightenment era, like Thomas Paine and John Locke, they penned down the document that serves as a bastion of freedom across the world. The Constitution begins with these words:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
These are the words that have come to define the American experience. It is fitting to begin this column with a piece on the fundamentals of liberty. These fundamentals exemplify what it means to be an American. The framers of our nation had a few simple principles in mind when they founded our Country. They first asked a few fundamental questions. What does it mean to be free? How does our institution of Government maintain the most freedom for the individual?
First and foremost, they believed in the power of the individual. They strived to uphold that each individual should be free to pursue their own objectives. It is this basic principle that has given rise to the economic system that has changed the world. The economic system that has given rise to the great innovators of our time. Their vision gave rise to our values of freedom of speech, religion and assembly. We have come to this nation, as immigrants from across the world, with this promise in our minds and in our hearts. We knew that the promise of America would exceed far beyond what we could achieve in our original homes. Free to achieve whatever the fruits of our hard work would yield us. Free to rise up to all of the opportunities that this country has to offer. That promise did not fail us. However, I believe that that same promise is being threatened with each passing year.
Unfortunately, we have strayed farther and farther from their original vision: a vision that has yielded some of the greatest breakthroughs of mankind. As the years have gone by it is hard to ignore this. Until the 1930’s local, state and federal Governments spent roughly 10 percent of the GDP. This has ballooned to over 45 percent of our GDP in recent years. With each passing year, the Government has justified greater spending, increased our taxes, stifled business with excessive regulation, and restricted our ability to pursue our economic ambitions.
“What may be wrong with this?” you may ask. This rise in Government spending goes against the very fabric of what the founding fathers stood for. The more power we put in the hands of Government, and in turn the more that they take from us in the form of taxes, the less freedom we have to pursue our objectives. The less opportunity we have to progress and prosper. Despite their good intentions, one cannot deny that our nation has become a nation by the bureaucrats and for the bureaucrats instead of by the people and for the people. It is a gross fallacy to believe that someone in Washington, or someone in our local Governmental institutions, knows what’s best for us. We know what’s best for us. These people seek absolute power. They wish to create their version of heaven on Earth. However, this very power is what corrupts man. The justification for their wisdom comes from false ideas of maintaining equality. I wish to put this to rest once and for all. For, our founding fathers rightly understood equality. They rightfully understood that equality comes from our individuality and our expression of it. If we continue down the path of bigger Government, we will end up in a nation of conformity and servitude.
One should not, however be mistaken. Government does indeed have a very important role to play. And when it plays those roles, it actually serves to protect freedom. What is ironic is that as Government has bloated in size it has failed to carry out those tasks which are essential to our life in a collective. It is essential for Government to maintain our laws and uphold them equally for all. It is essential for our Government to provide for the national defense and implement a sound monetary policy for our economy. Furthermore, Government must maintain an environment where goods can be exchanged freely between individuals and other nations. It must also maintain equal opportunity for all to the best of its ability. These tasks make it possible for us to live freely and to maximize that freedom. It is unfortunate that the institution which was set out to achieve these desirable ends has instead achieved undeniable ones.
This is what Conservatism stands by to uphold. As Conservatives, we believe in the power of the individual to harness the full extent of their potential and ambitions. That is what serves as the guiding principle for the ways in which we believe the Government should run. We believe that we must maximize the freedom of the individual to pursue their own objectives, provided that they do not hurt anyone else. We have no ambition to make Government more streamlined. We wish to restrict its size. The Conservative understands that power, when concentrated in the hands of few, in the name of justice, leads to a great loss of liberty for the ordinary person. The Conservative is concerned for his fellow man, but believes wholeheartedly that the individual, not Government, is the solution to their problems. As Conservatives, we look to History to see what has worked and build off it. We know what has worked in the past and are still open to new ideas. The evidence is in and the verdict is overwhelmingly clear: As Government has expanded and pervaded more and more of our lives, our freedoms have been lessened, our progress has been stagnant and our future looks less prosperous for our children.
I look forward to exploring these issues in greater detail in the coming weeks and months and hope to convince you further that the preceding statement I’ve made cannot be refuted. I will outline the specific policies that will be crucial for us to preserve those freedoms that were instilled in our people from our very inception.
The Constitution, despite today’s polarizing political climate, is more relevant than ever before. The guiding principles of it are ones we should cherish and hold sacred. Many have died to uphold these very values. To instill these very values. To preserve them for each successive generation. It will be up to us to decide whether we, like our forefathers, will fight to preserve our freedom. Freedom is not the natural state of man. It is, instead, a great achievement of a society. It is a matter of conviction to stand up and defend liberty and it is a noble cause no matter how extreme one may sound. For, it is what defines us, not just as Americans, but as part of our greater humanity.
Neither left, not right, Kyle Singh promises Straight Talk in this new column. He is a researcher at Columbia University and considering a run for local office in Long Island in the coming cycle.