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Unfettered liberty denies justice

by DEBORAH ROSE/Guest Opinion
| June 19, 2021 1:00 AM

What is the meaning of United States citizenship? The answer to this question beyond all misconceptions is made clear in our nation’s pledge of allegiance: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Many on the far-right, however, believe U.S. citizenship is exclusively about personal liberty at all costs to the liberty of others and the common good. How many of the far-right political philosophy are capable of guiding their lives by the profound words embodied in this proclamation? Few, if any, based on how they ostracize and censor real Republicans who live by true Republican principles from their ranks through their libertarian purity test. In so doing, they have established a divisive, hostile political climate within our local Republican party and our community at large where their actions deny justice to others.

The United States of America from its inception has been defined by the words in this pledge. Our nation’s founders saw liberty, not as an end, but as a means to achieve and guarantee justice for all. Justice not as a destructive expression as sought through the rioting and burning our cities of lately, but from a spiritually and intellectually evolved state of mind.

At the genesis of western republics, the higher purpose of governance for humanity was justice, not freedom and liberty. James Madison, arguing for a well regulated Republican government aptly stated: “Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it is obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit.” In seeking acceptance for the Constitution, Madison stressed restraint in the exercise of liberty a worthy expression of character, an expression rejected by many of the far right.

Liberty without responsibility is licentiousness. Licentiousness derails justice. Licentiousness was a concern for our founders. They understood that a free government, and the blessings of liberty required moderation, virtue and an unyielding respect for the right to justice for all. Unfettered liberty is in direct opposition to the justice intended in the creation of our Constitution.

Safeguarding justice is not a partisan issue. People are needed who are willing to think beyond party affiliations, beyond their own self-serving desires so they can act on what is best for the common good. The degree to which we can accomplish this worthwhile goal determines the health of our communities and our nation.

The exercise of liberty brings about the extremes of both good and evil. The Idaho Freedom Foundation’s board chair, Brent Regan, brags about how the IFF has as one of its main objectives to dismantle Idaho’s public education system. He further goes on to brag how he believes the IFF is a “powerful” driver “of policy” in Idaho, and that, “Its [IFF’s] acolytes in the Legislature regularly vote the IFF’s party line on divisive issues.”

In their recent headline making actions, both Janice McGeachin, candidate for governor, and Priscilla Giddings, candidate for lieutenant governor, have proven themselves to be mere “acolytes” for the IFF in their unrestrained exercise of liberty.

The IFF apparently has determined itself high court where sound judgment is lacking. The goal of a dictator is victory, whereas the goal of statesmanship is the common good. Expressed in a specious manner, the actions of McGeachin and Giddings show a lack of statesmanship as well. The IFF, a libertarian organization, Giddings and McGeachin, are prime examples of how the far-right abuses the expression of liberty. They have misconstrued our Founders’ objective for governance.

George Washington warned, “Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.” Justice is the purpose of government. All those who aid and praise the IFF’s efforts could benefit from a fact-based civics course, while their radical position ought to be rejected by Idaho citizens.

In order for self-government to work properly, we need representatives and those others in a position of influence to be of morally sound character and good judgment. What we see in the behavior of these candidates and those who promote and direct them, are individuals not willing to live by the standard code of civil society. For them, it’s all about personal power, self-aggrandizement and what’s in it for me.

The rapid increase in population of our county has brought to our community many bearing a conservative philosophy with an air of entitlement and a fear of losing their liberties. Their unbridled demands for liberty will lead to tyranny. The U.S. is as vulnerable as any other country, like Venezuela, in losing its democratic justice processes. The opponents of restrained liberty and justice are artful and insidious as they seek to promote themselves as liberty advocates. Far too many in our local community are being exploited and manipulated by these ambitious deceivers and skillful impostures seeking to have complete control over our government.

A recent example of exploitation and manipulation of voters, and a disregard for justice, is how the KCRCC exercised cronyism in promoting their chosen candidates during the last two elections, including pushing the acceptance of unqualified far-right candidates in nonpartisan races.

Those who seek to establish themselves as representatives deserving respect, must first embrace and understand our nation’s founding principles of restrained liberty to ensure justice is the motive that guides our politics, our communities and our nation.

What we need more than ever from our elected officials and influential agents is political and personal integrity. Giddings, McGeachin and the IFF have shown us they do not meet this requirement, nor do they show us a commitment to sound governance, thoughtful advocacy and restrained liberty to ensure justice for all.

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Deborah Rose is a Kootenai County resident.