A Free State...If You Can Keep It
NOTE: The opinions and commentary expressed in this essay are those of the author and are an exercise of free speech. They do not necessarily represent the views of Free State Project Inc., its Directors, its Officers, or its Participants.
A Free State...If You Can Keep It
by Robert F. Hawes Jr.
It is said that, at the close of the Constitutional Convention, a woman approached Benjamin Franklin and asked him what type of government had been decided upon by the delegates. Franklin stated: "We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it."
Franklin, of course, also believed that the Constitution could only last as long as the people themselves could sustain it:
"In these sentiments, sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults; if they are such; because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered; and I believe, further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other."
Franklin's words to the delegates gathered at Philadelphia in the late summer of 1787, as well as his memorable comment made in response to a woman's question, clearly demonstrate that he understood the fact that we hear so often repeated in the simple phrase "Freedom isn't free." This was certainly no new revelation in Franklin's time, nor should it come as a surprise to us today. As students in history's decidedly unforgiving classroom, we, like Franklin, must understand that freedom comes with a two-fold pricetag: vigilance and self-restraint; and this debt is never paid in-full. Each generation, each individual, must pay this price anew each and every day. In the words of Thomas Paine, "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it."
Yet, in spite of so many voices calling out warnings to us across the ages, the inevitable trend of history still appears to be that of decline. A proud Roman Republic advocating the esteem of virtue collapses into a empire ruled by those whose names are still associated with every form of vice and cruelty known to man; the English give us the Magna Carta and then spend the next several centuries subjugating one group of people after another; the United States of America is founded in an act of separation from a mother country on the ideal of self-determination, and then, not even one hundred years later, launches a brutal war against eleven states appealing to the very same ideal.
And now, at the beginning of the 21st century, we find freedom declining still. How can this be? How is it that something so precious has slipped through the fingers of each generation, and is now slipping through our own? Must every state established on free and noble principles ultimately fail? Have we failed Jefferson's challenge to demonstrate that man can indeed by ruled by means other than by "a rod of iron"?
Our Founders understood the trends of history and the lessons provided by the fate of other peoples. In crafting our Constitution, they gave us history's greatest attempt to directly combat the decline of nations and the eternal loss of liberty, but it too has been steadily eroded over the last two centuries. Now, with the advent of such things as the Patriot Act, and open discussion of stripping the constitutional rights of those suspected of certain crimes, we see that the Constitution is no longer the absolute Law of the Land. Our leaders have made it clear that they will ignore its provisions and limitations, if they so choose. Gone are the days when we could claim that our rights are guaranteed to us because our government is not empowered to supersede them. Our present reality is that our rights have been effectively reduced to a slate of privileges because our government feels that it is now the repository of all power, and that which holds all power need not be empowered to do anything. It simply does what it likes.
But then, in response to our slowly but steadily declining fortunes as a free people, comes the Free State Project, an effort to relocate those who still believe in the ideals of liberty to one state where they may enact "reductions in burdensome taxation and regulation, reforms in state and local law, an end to federal mandates, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world."
The FSP is a counterrevolutionary response to the idea that we should rightfully look to government to solve our problems, provide for our needs, and promote our sense of morality and virtue. As such, I believe it is an idea whose time has come. Through its efforts, it will spur renewed debate on liberty and the place of government in our lives, but even more than that, I believe that the FSP's greatest contribution to the cause of liberty today is to be found, not necessarily in whether it ultimately succeeds in its chosen state, but in the fact that it serves to remind us of what is truly necessary to create and sustain liberty in the first place.
The key is found in the FSP's plan, "in which 20,000 or more liberty-oriented people will move to a single state of the U.S," and in its Statement of Intent, which indicates that those wishing to join should be only those who can pledge to "exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property." Simply put, the FSP's fundamental assumption is that liberty can only be created and sustained by a liberty-loving people.
There are some who object to the FSP's single state emphasis, including those in the national Libertarian Party who claim that they want not just one free state, but fifty free states. Now this sounds very noble and sentimental, but it ignores the fundamental reality that the American people as a whole are no longer interested in what Libertarians and Jeffersonians would call "freedom." In the American system, the type of government we have is the type of government we choose, and if there was support for fifty free states, and enough activists willing to work toward that end, we would have them. There is support for freedom, of course, as well as activists out there working to secure it, but these few people find themselves diluted by a population that does not share their fundamental assumptions regarding the nature and role of government. Thus their efforts, while admirable, are insufficient due to fact that their appeals are drowned in a sea of contrary voices.
This is not to say that those who disagree with the FSP are foolish. Most of them simply object to what has been done to our Constitution and our way of life, and to those who now so undeservedly occupy the lofty positions once held by the likes Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. They want America "back," and like Colonel Travis, they have barricaded themselves in their own political Alamo where they are determined to make a final stand. Like Travis and his handful of Texans who faced the Santa Anna's hordes, their resolve is noble, admirable, and laudable. Unfortunately though, once again like Travis and his Texans, they are ultimately doomed. But Travis and his Texans did not intend to sacrifice themselves in vain. They took their heroic stand to buy precious time for Sam Houston to gather an army sufficient to defeat the Mexicans.
This is where Colonel Travis and those who are focused on liberty at the national level part ways. The Libertarian Party, Jeffersonians, and others working for the cause of fifty free states have not intended to buy time for anyone, or for any larger effort. As far as they know, they're it, and if they are defeated, the cause is lost entirely. Until recently, it seemed as though this might actually be the case. But now, we have a modern Sam Houston in the person of Jason Sorens who intends to use the precious time purchased by those fighting the national battle for all of these years in order to rally an "army" that might finally see some substantial victory, even if it is not what the national groups have hoped for.
But then, remember that Sam Houston freed only Texas, not all of Mexico.
The question then arises, if the FSP succeeds in creating a free state, can we "keep" it? Can we arrest the progress of those elements that slowly erode liberty over the years and over succeeding generations? The answer remains to be seen, of course, but in the process of thinking toward the future there are some factors that we can address with the hope of sustaining whatever it is that the FSP may ultimately create.
The key, again, is to be found in emphasizing the fact that liberty can only be sustained by a liberty-loving people. The FSP is based on this all important reality, and, as we have seen, Benjamin Franklin and other American Founders also understood it. Yet, the free country that the Founders birthed has degenerated to the point where the FSP is now a viable option for many who wish to embrace that original vision.
Here are some things that we must understand, not only to create, but also to "keep" a free state, lessons that we have failed to learn in the long-term as a people:
Individual rights must be understood and continually asserted, along with the concept that individual rights are inherent and do not flow from government or law. Individuals have rights, society does not.
"Life, faculties, production -- in other words, individuality, liberty, property -- this is man," writes Frederic Bastiat in The Law. "And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place."
Humanity is not a collective or hive mind like a society of insects. Human beings are naturally individuals, thus the rights that we possess flow from our natural individuality. Attempts to collectivize us by force are not a natural part of what we are; they are artificial. As such, society itself has no rights because rights are inherently individual.
The purpose of government is to create laws that protect individual rights.
Again, from Bastiat - "What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. Each of us has a natural right - from God - to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties?
If every person has the right to defend - even by force - his life, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right - its reason for existing, its lawfulness - is based on individual right."
From the Declaration of Independence - "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..."
Thomas Jefferson - "It is to secure our just rights that we resort to government at all."
Society itself has no rights, but individuals may collectivize in order to form governments in order to pass laws for the protection of individual rights in human society.
Laws that invade individual rights are a perversion of the purpose of government, and an illegitimate exercise of force.
Bastiat - "The law...has been used in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense."
Legitimate law is the exercise of force on the basis of right; illegitimate law is the claim to right on the basis of force. Government can use force legitimately, but only on the basis of some pre-existing, individual right. If government were to use force in order to defend your life, liberty, and property from being taken by someone else, that would be a legitimate use of force because it is, as Bastiat stated, the use of law as "the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense". It is an exercise of force based upon right. But when government uses force to take your life, liberty, or property for the benefit of someone else the use of force becomes illegitimate because it is the sheer exercise of force without right (in fact, against right). Laws against murder are examples of legitimate laws because they are based on the individual right to life. Taxes levied to pay for 'entitlement' program hand-outs are illegitimate laws because they violate individual rights - they take from one to give to another.
The use of law is perverted because of "stupid greed".
Bastiat - "Generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws. This fact, combined with the fatal tendency that exists in the heart of man to satisfy his wants with the least possible effort, explains the almost universal perversion of the law. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice...
"Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter - by peaceful or revolutionary means - into the making of the laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.
"Woe to the nation when this latter purpose prevails among the mass victims of lawful plunder when they, in turn, seize the power to make laws!"
Think of how many times we have seen politicians run for office on the basis of stopping an opposition force from harming people, only to turn around and use the power of their office to do exactly the same thing on their own terms. Republicans reject Democratic plans for health care, but then they proceed with other health care plans of their own that create the same result: individual rights are violated - money is taxed away from some people in order to be given to others. The difference is usually only a matter of degrees. Both sides claim the right to legislate as they please, no matter the fact that they violate individual rights. In this respect, the two parties are no different, despite their lofty words. Neither side promises that they will not invade our rights; they just promise to do it differently than the other side. This is what the folks in Washington think of as "change".
The use of the law is perverted because of a false sense of philanthropy.
Bastiat - "But what do the socialists do? They cleverly disguise this legal plunder from others - and even from themselves - under the seductive names of fraternity, unity, organization, and association. Because we ask so little from the law - only justice - the socialists thereby assume that we reject fraternity, unity, organization, and association. The socialists brand us with the name individualist.
"But we assure the socialists that we repudiate only forced organization, not natural organization. We repudiate the forms of association that are forced upon us, not free association. We repudiate forced fraternity, not true fraternity. We repudiate artificial unity that does nothing more than deprive persons of individual responsibility...
"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain."
Socialists like to tout their confiscation and redistribution schemes as noble and caring, but we should ask if theft is ever noble or caring. The social welfare state is based on theft, the confiscation of private property for its redistribution. And not only is based on theft, but self-righteousness as well, for it pretends to judge who is worthy of what material things, and demands not only that we surrender our property to the state, but also that we applaud the thief while he fills his pockets.
The law is perverted by a desire to promote religion, and morality, and to prevent people from harming themselves.
Ayn Rand - "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
H.L. Menken - "The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression."
Thomas Jefferson - "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
Richard Mitchell - "We should...be able to see that our interest would be best served not by asking the state to promulgate our values but by forbidding the state to promulgate any values at all. If the state can espouse some value that we love, it can, with equal justice, espouse others we do not love."
Government does not exist to promote morality and virtue, and yet, no free government can exist without moral and virtuous citizens, for if the people themselves are not moral or virtuous, what is to stop them from tolerating the types of leaders who will violate the rights of others for personal gain? Morality and virtue form the only arena where the voice of individual rights will be heard, where one man will stop and think before he takes something that belongs to another, unless the force of the law is constantly upon him. But then, if there is no morality or virtue, who will enforce the laws that protect individual rights and restrain that man? The end result will be either chaos or tyranny.
The point here is that before one can govern another, he must be able to govern himself. He must be able to resist the temptation to use the law to his own advantage, and he must not insist upon being a burden to others. In order to "keep" a free state, we must instill this fact in succeeding generations. If the people themselves are not moral, or if they lack a proper sense of individual responsibility, they will see no harm in electing leaders who will steal from others in order to provide for them. They will also cry out for government to protect them from themselves to the detriment of all. Consider recent discussion of a "fat tax" designed to combat obesity in America. The price of food may now go up for everyone just to compensate for those who excessively indulge in unhealthy foods, and as an attempt to regulate personal behavior as well.
The greatest gift of freedom is that it allows us to govern ourselves, and the greatest burden of freedom is that it requires us to govern ourselves. Until people learn to govern themselves, and to accept responsibility for their own actions and for their own lives, we will continue to hear of such things, and Bastiat's unscrupulous men will continue to rise up to take advantage of them. If we wish to be free, we must raise up successive generations of people who are able to be free, and we are going to have to develop the stomach to allow some to fall by the wayside of their own doing. For this latter group, the most that we can do without succumbing to the nanny state is to set their example before our children and encourage them as best we can not to follow that example.
Augustine - "Morality has perished through poverty of great men; a poverty for which we must not only assign a reason, but for the guilt of which we must answer as criminals charged with a capital crime. For it is through our vices, and not by any mishap, that we retain only the name of a republic, and have long since lost the reality."
Thomas Jefferson - "Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others?"
Thomas Paine - "When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary."
Patrick Henry - "A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, are incompatible with freedom."
We must also resist the temptation to legislate our sense of morality "for the public good" because attempts to do so will serve as precedents that others will use to force their morality upon us.
Thomas Paine - "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."
Freedom is lost when the people are not vigilant to guard it by closely monitoring their leaders and involving themselves in the process.
Thomas Jefferson - "It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own."
Thomas Jefferson - "Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention ... If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you & I, & Congress & Assemblies, judges & governors shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions; and experience declares that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the governments of Europe, and to the general prey of the rich on the poor."
Patrick Henry - "Liberty, the greatest of all earthly blessings -- give us that precious jewel, and you may take every things else! ... Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel."
Daniel Webster - "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
A great danger that we face in our modern world is to get so caught up in the pursuit of the blessings that freedom has given us that we come to take freedom itself for granted, and thus fail to see to its maintenance. Ironically, by failing to do so, we endanger the very same pursuits that distracted us from the maintenance of our freedom in the first place. We can trust our politicians to be nothing more than flawed human beings as prone to corruption and self-indulgence as any of the rest of us.
Laws must be written clearly, and in such as a way as their intent is fully understood; and politics must be kept out of the judiciary.
Thomas Jefferson - "The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a general and supreme one alone. This will lay all things at their feet..."
Thomas Jefferson - "Our peculiar security is in possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction."
Thomas Jefferson - "On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
James Madison - "But what is of most importance is the high sanction given to a latitude in expounding the Constitution which seems to break down the landmarks intended by a specification of the Powers of Congress, and to substitute for a definite connection between means and ends, a Legislative discretion as to the former to which no practical limit can be assigned.
"In the great system of Political Economy having for its general object the national welfare, everything is related immediately or remotely to every other thing; and consequently a Power over any one thing, if not limited by some obvious and precise affinity, may amount to a Power over every other...The British Parliament in collecting a revenue from the commerce of America found no difficulty in calling it either a tax for the regulation of trade, or a regulation of trade with a view to the tax, as it suited the argument or the policy of the moment."
Our judicial system has been largely responsible for the more recent and serious declines in our freedom due to its tendency to interpret legislation so very liberally. Ambiguities and loop-holes in the laws have been repeatedly exploited to our detriment. Limited government must mean limited government, and where disputes arise on fundamental issues, the matter should be put to the people for their decision. Otherwise, the government, by virtue of being able to interpret the extent of its own powers, essentially becomes all powerful. This is the situation we currently face with the United States Supreme Court.
Thomas Jefferson - "But the Chief Justice says, "there must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere." True, there must; but does that prove it is either party? The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention, at the call of Congress, or of two-thirds of the States. Let them decide to which they mean to give authority claimed by two of their organs. And it has been the peculiar wisdom and felicity of our constitution, to have provided this peaceable appeal, where that of other nations is at once to force."
We are also seeing an increasingly strong trend toward filling judiciary positions based on political agenda rather than qualification to serve. In 2002, California Senate Democrat Dianne Feinstein remarked that President George W. Bush could expect to have his judicial appointments rejected because, in her opinion, Bush "...did not have a large mandate. There is no mandate, in my view, to skew the courts to the right. I think you're going to see a Judiciary Committee that's really going to be looking for mainstream judges" Feinstein also added: "There are points that many of us feel passionately about, one of them being Roe vs. Wade. I don't want to see Roe overturned. I'm in a position where I'm going to be very careful that a judge that I vote for to go to a circuit court will not do that."
If nothing else, the presidential election of 2000 demonstrated one fact with crystal clarity: our court systems have become politicized. Some of you may remember the various news reports emanating from Florida when Al Gore's recount dispute was thrown into the courts and if so, then perhaps you will also remember that most of the discussion among the various media talking heads had to do with whether "Judge so-and-so" was liberal or conservative, or who appointed them, or whether their decision record indicated a liberal or conservative agenda. The biggest story of the hour, in the media's view, was the contested presidential election, but what really stood out was the fact that the courts themselves had been transformed from dispensers of justice to enforcers of agenda.
It is way past time that we took a good, hard look at this fact. The court systems that supposedly exist to dispense justice to you and I are now political battlegrounds, and as a result, the laws under which we are expected to live have fallen into partisan hands. Every facet of American life is slowly coming under political scrutiny by the power-hungry who then attempt to force their partisan agendas upon us by stacking the courts with ideological clones of themselves. And both political parties are guilty of this heinous crime against the liberties of the people, each citing their decisions as "what the American people want," or "what's right for America," when it all really boils down to what their favorite special interest groups want or what's right by their agenda.
If the selection of judges and the function of the court system is made to serve the whims of political agenda, then the cause of liberty has been dealt a crushing blow for everyone, regardless of their political affiliations. For with the interpretation of the laws in the hands of an agenda-driven few, there is theoretically nothing beyond their grasp, no matter how sacred it might otherwise seem. We are then doomed to a perpetual power-struggle in which both sides of the aisle will continue to fight tooth and nail to fill the courts with ambassadors of their respective causes, with truth and justice relegated to the back-burner in favor of all-important agenda.
Legislative sessions and other government proceedings must open to public scrutiny or some other method of accountability.
Thomas Jefferson - " I wish, therefore, to see maintained that wholesome distribution of powers established by the constitution for the limitation of both; and never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold as at market."
Government proceedings should be seldom withdrawn from the eyes of the people, and where there is some legitimate need for secrecy, there should be a process by which accountability is maintained and the law upheld. Secret meetings give rise to dealings which tend to subvert the law.
General provisions should be enacted to provide for government accountability during emergency situations.
James Madison - "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."
We are all familiar with the problems of socialist redistribution and nanny laws in this country, but consider the issue of emergency situations for a moment. The greatest growth spurts for government in our country's history have been during times of crisis or a perceived crisis: 1) The War Between the States, 2) The Depression, 3) the world wars, 4) The Great Society - in response to a perceived "poverty crisis," 5) the Cold War, and it seems that we are rapidly coming up to snuff on 6) the War on Terror.
Despite the fact that we have lived with the threat of nuclear annihilation and other potentially catastrophic situations for more than half a century now, no steps have ever been taken to place any provisions in the Constitution for keeping the government under the law in times of crisis. Some, building upon such damaging precedents as those set by Abraham Lincoln, maintain that such considerations are not even necessary. Chief Justice Rhenquist recently stated that he agrees with the maxim: "In time of war, the laws are silent." This is a recipe for tyranny, particularly in this day and age when the definitions of such things as "war" and "enemy" are growing ever more vague and general. The underlying assumption in the federal government seems to be that there is a glass box in the Oval Office with a crown and a scepter in it and the words "In Case of Emergency, Break Glass" written across the front.
If we are going to "keep" a free state, we are ultimately going to have to address this issue of emergency powers, whether full autonomy ever becomes an issue or not. After all, if there is a broader emergency of some sort, the state is going to have to decide how it will react toward federal actions, and how it will act within its own borders. It is time to end this assumption Americans seem to have that a politician can rise above the law out of "necessity". Obviously, we cannot always create situation-specific codes, but we can certainly establish general guidelines that will hold public officials to a standard of accountability, as opposed to allowing them to run amok over our liberties at their discretion.
Lack of emergency preparation would also be an incentive and/or justification for the federal government to intervene in our affairs, very likely with the idea that we are an "unstable" element that has to be secured. If there is a major disaster of some type (even just within state borders), and we are inadequately prepared, guess who steps in out of "necessity?" We do ourselves no service by being unprepared for emergencies, and if we should ever be so fortunate as to succeed in electing candidates to state level office, we should use all available influence from that position to pressure the federal government for greater accountability as well.
In closing, let me say again that we have found ourselves in need of a Free State Project largely because we have failed to heed Franklin's admonition to "keep the Republic", and so we are now reaping the resulting harvest.
To create and then "keep" a free state, we must return to the fact that liberty cannot be sustained by any other than a liberty-loving people who are determined to be vigilant in the defense of their individual rights, moral and virtuous in their dealings with others, and accountable for the consequences of their own actions and decisions. If we create a free state, but then fail to instill such foundational principles in those who follow in our footsteps, then we may yet live to see our work undone by those we hoped would continue it. Certainly, it will not last much beyond our lifetimes.
If we give the next generation a free state only, they will likely enjoy it and exploit it until they are no longer able to sustain it. But if we instead teach them the principles and habits of a free people, instilling such core values in the fabric of their learning and living, then we may have created something that will be truly powerful and enduring.
"An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot; it will succeed where diplomatic management would fall: it is neither the Rhine, the Channel, nor the ocean that can arrest its progress: it will march on the horizon of the world, and it will conquer." - Thomas Paine