Liberty and its Limits on Democracy

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

In the long history of humankind, starting with our climb from the swamps to the stars, there hasn’t been any type or form of government as great as democracy. Oligarchies, Dictatorships and Monarchies all pale in comparison.

While democracy is currently the best form of government for promoting peace and prosperity, it has its limits. It’s slow undoing begins when it’s citizens try to dictate the thoughts and actions of others in order to protect people from their own choices. This always leads to the expanded role of government, which in turn leads to less freedom.

Freedom limiting legislation is usually¬†democratically enacted in the guise of protection. ¬†Whether it’s draconian legislation like Bill C-51 , The Patriot Act, or it’s sibling the Freedom Act, this is when democracy fails.

The government’s sole duty at the federal level is to protect the governed from each other. It oversteps its boundaries when it tries to protect citizens from themselves. It is at this point that government has moved from serving the best interest of the people to limiting their liberties.

Many people feel that it’s the majorities right to decide what’s best. They believe that this is the foundation of democracy. This belief is a fallacy. The majority does not have the right to entrench upon the freedoms of individuals.

Philosopher Friedrich Hayek believes “It is when it is contended that ‘in a democracy right is what the majority makes it to be’ that democracy degenerates into demagoguery.”

Our inherited human rights, given to us through creation, include the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These undeniable rights can not be trampled upon by the majority. Trying to limit people’s natural freedoms is like trying to ride the back of a tiger, the rider usually ends up inside.

For this reason, any government that tries to limit freedom and liberty, always ends up overthrown. A simple glance at history proves this to be true. The shot heard around the world was fired because the liberties of the American colonists were being trampled upon. It inspired a continent of settlers to overthrow the strongest superpower the world had ever known.

America is not the only place the lack of liberties have inspired such great movements. It has inspired such writings as the Magna Carta as well as the French, and Young Turk Revolutions.

These historic events are the natural response to a lack of freedom. If, or when, Democracy becomes too big of a burden for the people, and it entrenches too far upon individual liberties, it too will fail. After all, the reason why people resort to government is to protect their rights. This is because, as Thomas Jefferson wrote, “A free people claim their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”

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Shayne Thiessen

Shayne Thiessen

Shayne is enrolled in Business Information Technologies at Red River College in Winnipeg Manitoba. He has a passion for politics, photography and technology. Born and raised in a small farming community, Shayne believes in small government and personal liberty.

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