There are four major liberties inscribed in the United States Constitution: our rights as citizens to vote for those persons we want to represent us in government, the guarantee of free speech along with the right to petition, the rule of law with the guarantee of our ability to challenge injustices in the courts and failing all these the right to protect ourselves and families from an oppressive government. These rights are essential for the preservation of a free society.
In a Republic such as ours every citizen not only has a right but a duty to vote for their representatives. Unfortunately, on average close to 40% of eligible voters stay away from the ballot box in every presidential election, much more in off year elections. This is a sad fact that a small majority of the electorate decide who will represent the American people. Just over one hundred years ago roughly 80% of eligible voters voted in presidential elections. For some reason even though over the years we have made voting easier then it has ever been with absentee ballots, early voting and dozens of organizations that will shuttle people to the voting booth, voter participation has declined.
I believe that part of the problem for voter apathy is that many people feel that our elected officials are not representing the people but are beholding to special interests. There are numerous polls that indicate that most people believe their representatives vote against the will of the people and answer to those that fund their campaigns.
Fortunately, because of the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of free speech we can bring attention to areas of the government that we feel are ignoring the will of the people. In this country we can use many different forms of social media as well as radio, television and editorials to bring attention to what we feel are unjust laws and regulations that our representatives have passed. We live in one of only a handful of countries where this can happen.
Another great aspect of our country is that we as individuals or groups can challenge what we feel are unjust or unconstitutional laws in the courts. If a person or entity feels that their freedoms are being violated, they have the right according to the Constitution to challenge their oppressor in court. To see just how important this ability to challenge oppressive laws and rulings just look at the Colorado Baker whose case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
The last box of liberty which may be the most important one is the box that represents our 2nd Amendment and that is “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”. If you were to read some of the founder’s thoughts on this amendment you will realize that this was put into the Constitution because they wanted the citizens to have the ability to defend themselves against an oppressive government. Remember this quote from our Declaration of Independence:
“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes, and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
One of the early skirmishes of the Revolutionary War was the Battle of Lexington and Concord when the British were sent to confiscate guns from the colonists. I am sure that when the 2nd Amendment was added to the Constitution that this was still in the minds of the founders. Besides we only have to look at recent history to see what happens to a people that are not allowed to defend themselves against oppressive governments.
Without our 2nd Amendment it would be easy for our other freedoms to be chipped away at, if not completely taken. We remain free not by the good graces of our government but because for now the people still have the power to defend their freedoms. If we give up the right to defend those freedoms they will disappear very quickly.