All Commentary
Saturday, December 1, 1984

A Page on Freedom: Number 14

Who Is to Blame?

Freedom is seldom lost by a direct vote on the subject. In our case, it just seems to be seeping away. The Bill of Rights still exists on paper, but the spirit that caused it to be written is disappearing. When that spirit is completely gone, the written words will mean nothing.

Thus it behooves us to inquire why that spirit is now weak, and how it can be revived. No one person is responsible for sapping that spirit of individualism. No one political party is to blame. The people are as responsible as the elected and appointed leaders. It is we the people who seem to have forgotten that freedom and responsibility are inseparable. It is we the people who are discarding the concept of government that brought forth the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

In short, few of us seem to want to keep government out of our personal affairs and responsibilities. Many of us seem to favor various types of government-guaranteed and compul- sory “security.” We say that we want personal freedom, but we demand government housing, government price controls, government-guaran-teed jobs and wages. We boast that we are responsible persons, but we vote for candidates who promise us special privileges, government pensions, government subsidies, and government electricity.

Such schemes are directly contrary to the spirit of the Bill of Rights. Our heritage is being lost more through weakness than through deliberate design. The Bill of Rights still shines in all its splendor, but many of us are looking in another direction. Many of us are drifting back to that old concept of government that our forefathers feared and rejected. Many of us are now looking to government for security. Many of us are no longer willing to accept individual responsibility for our own welfare. Yet personal freedom cannot exist without individual responsibility.

—Dean Russell, 1948