Opinion: We are the people of liberty

PSC Commissioner Roger Koopman

We are the people of liberty. The family of freedom. In our bloodstream is the inheritance of our common ancestors – men who jump off the pages of human history. Ancestors who, with a terrible fury, consumed the tyrant and built a mighty nation on tyranny’s grave. Imperfect men to be sure. But called by God to change the world. And so they did. On this sacred soil they established a country called America, that would be forever free.

We are the people of liberty. The spiritual bloodline of Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Henry. Their fire and passion resides in our hearts today. We cannot escape it. Freedom is our destiny. We are bound together, spirit to spirit, heart to heart, soul to soul, as the guardians of liberty. We raise high that banner, and hold forth the flame of freedom.  We will be no man’s chattel, no man’s victim, no man’s slave. We will stand erect, and yield to no one.  We are the people of liberty.

We are the people of liberty. We affirm that freedom is non-negotiable. It is a contract written in blood, with no escape clause.  Purchased by patriots.  Signed by all Americans — bound together in sacred trust. Breaking the contract is not an option.  It is sealed by the Hand of God.

We are the people of liberty. Ask the men who bled at Valley Forge. Who bled at Gettysburg, Antietam and Bull Run. At Normandy, Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. Ask them if freedom was worth fighting for. Bleeding for. Dying for. Ask them if there is any sacrifice too great to preserve our liberties.

We are, as Lincoln put it, a nation conceived in liberty. Planted, four centuries ago, in the unlicensed, untaxed, unregulated soil of the New World. We became accustomed to freedom and it fit us well. It formed our national character, and created a level of human happiness at which the Old World – pickled in a brine of bureaucracy – could only marvel with impotent envy.

American had set on fire the course of human history, by shaking a defiant fist at the face of tyranny in all its hideous forms.  As a people, we had come to settle for nothing less than our constitutionally-secured rights and freedoms.

Yet Lincoln understood the times in which he lived, times he said, that tested “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, will long endure.” Do we understand the perilous times in which we live today? With firm resolve, faith in God and adherence to our founding principles, American survived a great civil war. But do we have that same resolve, that same faith, that same adherence to the principles of liberty that will bring us through the war now raging for America’s soul?  Or will we continue to sell our birthright to the highest political bidder with the slickest Santa Claus suit?

We are the people of liberty. But liberty cannot survive in a vacuum. It cannot be sustained in a country that loses its memory.  The memory of what America was — and was always meant to be. Liberty under law. Personal responsibility. Individual sovereignty.  Freedom of conscience.  Ambition, not envy. Respect for the rights, the privacy and the property of others. Listen closely to what our current batch of politicians are saying. Do they appeal to these principles, and to the higher, nobler calling of those citizens who demand to be free? Or do they pander to our lower appetites, that requires an expansive and coercive government that claims to benefit us at the expense of someone else?

When faced with the appeal to freedom or entitlement, where do WE stand? Do we entrust our vote to the defenders of liberty – or do we sell it to the highest bidders?

When liberty dies, we die. We are the people of liberty. The family of freedom. May it forever be.

Roger Koopman is serving his second term on the Montana Public Service Commission. He previously represented Bozeman for two terms in the State House of Representatives, and operated a successful private employment service for 37 years.