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The Confederate Lawyer
February 24, 2009

Reviving Liberty Will Take Courage
by Charles G. Mills

Glen Cove, New York

Five Republicans have been elected president since World War II. All of them, at least to some extent, wanted to decrease the size of the federal bureaucracy. President Reagan had the most success of the five, but all left office with a larger, more powerful, and more intrusive civilian bureaucracy than they inherited. Although each president had some people in the administration who were willing to reduce the size of the federal government at the expense of their own power, many others were seeking to cut the federal government in someone else’s department.

We already have federal control of agricultural production, standardized federal testing in the schools, the suppression of their traditional religious mission by most universities, a uniform national minimum drinking age, massive federal interference in the health insurance industry and in hospital administration, and standardization of everything from highway and airport signs to drivers’ licenses. We are facing major steps toward socialized medicine, significant federal ownership and control of our largest banks, federalization of mortgage lending, hundreds of thousands of new federal civilian jobs, and a general takeover of our lives by the federal government. All that remains is to nationalize the fashion police, and we will have conception to euthanasia totalitarianism.

The road to bringing liberty back to life does not run through the White House. That route has failed five times already. It is through two institutions: state governments and churches. Choosing this route will require the courage to turn down federal money when strings are attached and the will to face down the federal government.

Such courage is not impossible; it has been displayed before. In 1961, the federal government created federal student loans. Students who wished to receive these loans had to take an oath similar to the one required at the time for a passport. While some students formed a national organization in support of such an oath, others opposed it. Several universities simply refused to allow their students to borrow under the program. During the second year of the program, the number of universities boycotting it grew so large that Congress caved in and canceled the oath requirement.

Conservative state office holders will have to risk a lot and endure unpopularity when they turn down federal money. This cannot be done successfully by one, or even a few, states. It will only work if a significant number of governors, with the support of their legislatures, target an unpopular federal mandate, refuse to accept federal money linked to it, and stay the course during their initial unpopularity. This will require the development of young conservatives who believe in states’ rights and are not willing to be sent to Washington. This can work many times, but not enough to really alter the balance of power against the federal government and in favor of the states.

Our Constitution provided for a militia as a balance against federal power. Today, almost the entire militia — the National Guard — is financially supported by the federal government and subject to orders from the president. Even in those states that have significant elements in their militias that are not federally recognized, the National Guard is the best-equipped and best-trained part of the militias. If states really want to stand up to the federal government, they must enlarge the independent part of their militias and make them the elite core of the states’ forces. States must recruit at their own expense and develop their own sophisticated 21st-century weapons. This is going to require complete solidarity by a number of conservative governors.

Bringing liberty back to life will take more than changing power relations. It will also require a change in our national character. It will require recognition that every abortion is an assault on everybody’s right to life. It will require recognition that it is unjust to minor children if one of their parents walks away. It will require recognition that the traditional family — not the government or an imitation family — is the first guardian of liberty. It will require recognition that chemical and mechanical contraception creates a psychological distortion that frequently develops into an acceptance of abortion.

Creating character is the function of the family and the church, not the state. Most heads of family will take their lead from their church. An America that truly loves liberty will only come if that minority of our churches that are not hopelessly corrupt put aside unimportant issues and concentrate on the right to life, the importance of the traditional family, the non-negotiable duty of every politician to oppose legal abortion and euthanasia, the right of the church to teach and enforce its teachings in its universities and hospitals, and the dangers of contraception to liberty.

This is going to require courage and leadership not only from bishops, but from all clergy, teachers, and others in authority. It is going to require a willingness to break the addiction to federal money for religious universities and hospitals. It is going to require a willingness to confront some of the most powerful politicians in the country when they stray from the will of God. It may not be enough to excommunicate them privately; it may have to be done publically.

The revival of liberty requires more than winning presidential and congressional elections. It will require a new generation of leaders both in church and state government capable of turning down everything Washington has to offer.

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The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2009 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

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