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May 25th, 2012
 

The Presumption of Liberty

By Nathan Tucker

The Libertarian Party called and wants its preamble back.  It must have come as quite the surprise to them to learn that the preamble contained in the proposed 2012 platform for the Republican Party of Iowa (PRI) bears a striking resemblance to their own preamble.

The proposed preamble reads, in pertinent part:

As Republicans, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and are never deprived of property or forced to sacrifice one’s values for the benefit of others.  We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized. Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings.  We defend the right of each individual to be free and to follow their own dreams in their own ways, unless the exercise of their freedoms infringes upon the valid rights of others.

…Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free, and it is to this end that we stand together.

The similarity to the current Libertarian Party preamble is remarkable:

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.

We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.

Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power…

Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands.

Though its preamble espouses the “harm” principle of libertarianism, the rest of the proposed PRI platform often contradicts that principle because, by itself, it is an unworkable governing philosophy.  Though it contains an element of truth, it is but only part of the story.

It is possible, however, to fuse the principles of libertarianism and conservatism into the presumption of liberty.  Man is created free and equal in the image of God and bestowed by his Creator with unalienable and innate rights to life, free agency (liberty), and the fruit of his labor (property).

The “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” declare that (i) one man has no right to interfere with another’s natural rights; and (ii) that there exists certain natural vices, due their inherent dehumanizing nature, that no one has a right to do.

Because man is fallen and prone to violate this natural law, government was established to restrain this evil.  Government, in turn, consists of fallen men who, since they are evil, will abuse and corrupt their power.  Additionally, not only is government incapable of creating a utopian society of fairness and justice, but the very attempt will violate man’s inalienable rights.

While a necessary evil, therefore, government upholds natural law without offending it by preserving it from foreign and domestic threats (national defense and a criminal and civil justice system).  It also has a role in providing for those limited cases that the free market is unable to provide for (i.e., infrastructure, public utilities).

When government moves from being an impartial arbitrator of natural rights to regulating man’s enjoyment of them, it must satisfy the presumption of liberty— the most local form of democratic government feasible that addresses a necessary public interest by using the least restrictive means available which do not deprive one’s rights in order to give to another (redistribution of wealth, equality of outcomes).

The problem with libertarianism is that, while stressing liberty, it fails to acknowledge a moral order.  The conservative, while espousing moral values, “does not object to coercion or arbitrary power so long as it is used for what he regards as the right purposes.”  He unfortunately too often forgets that allpower corrupts” and must be denied rather than desired.

Individual liberty, rooted in natural law, fuses the naturally compatible impulses of the two philosophies into the presumption of liberty.

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About the Author

Nathan W. Tucker
Nathan W. Tucker is a Davenport attorney and author of We The People: The Only Cure to Judicial Activism. He can be contacted at nathanwt@juno.com.




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