One of the largest groups within the New Hampshire GOP is the “Liberty and Freedom” or “L&F” Republicans. This increasingly vocal and effective sub-coalition includes movement conservatives, libertarian conservatives, free enterprisers, TEA Partiers, and yes, social conservatives. What each group has is common is the crucial centrality of individual liberty versus ever-growing government power.
While the words “liberty” and “freedom” are closely associated, they are not identical. The former suggests being free from arbitrary and/or despotic government power. The word freedom, by contrast, connotes the lack of external control, regulation, and interference by any powerful outside force; thus, “freedom” means having the power to choose one’s own path in life. “Liberty” means the quality of being free from the curse of overweening, self-aggrandizing, metastasizing government power.
If “liberty and freedom” is the bedrock principle of any political activist, then every government action, every new law, every regulation, every increase in the power, reach, control, and intrusiveness of government must be measured against that ideal. To the L&F Republicans in New Hampshire, every potential law, regulation, and governmental action must meet the test of whether it reduces, unduly interferes with, or otherwise assaults the fundamental rights of Liberty and Freedom.
To some of New Hampshire’s most powerful political coalitions—including Democrats and other socialists, public employee unions, regressives (they are not “progressives”), and others who instinctively want people to be “controlled” rather than living their own lives as they see fit—the Liberty and Freedom ideal is alien. Such people are reflexively horrified at the work being done by the massive Republican majorities in Concord these days. After all, the L&F Republicans predominate, and their aim to increase individual liberty and freedom is the opposite of what Democrats and their supporters desire.
That much is good.
The thing is, though, the inexorable encroachment of government power on the people’s Liberty and Freedom is a disease that must be fought against with eternal vigilance, generation after generation. Those who seek to expand government power (and usually profit from it) are persistent, enduring, and persevering. They are like termites, forever eating away at the foundations of human Liberty and Freedom. They work doggedly over years, decades and even centuries to expand the power, wealth, reach, control, and intrusiveness of government over the people. Always.
This is why Thomas Jefferson made the astute observation that “the natural order of things is for Liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” It is why I count myself an energetic L&F Republican. Every single existing government power, every single legislative proposal, every increase in taxes or fees, and every single proposed expansion of government must first be tested against the bedrock principle of Liberty and Freedom: There better be a damned good reason—overwhelmingly so—to impinge upon that principle. If that test, with a very high standard, is not met, then government power must give way. The principle of Liberty and Freedom must prevail.
Democrats think that’s just terrible, even scary. I like that.