When a woman asked Ben Franklin as he was departing the Constitutional Convention in 1787, "Well, Doctor, what have we got — a Republic or a Monarchy?" the old sage replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it." Franklin knew that even the best words on paper can never resolve the age-old struggle between liberty and power. People must understand liberty's fundamentals, practice and preach them, pass them on to the next generation, and even sacrifice their lives for them on occasion. Use this checklist to help make sure you're doing your part for freedom (put a check mark next to any that apply).
- ___ I raised it in a conversation and hopefully turned on a light in at least one person's mind.
- ___ I defended it when it was challenged by error.
- ___ I improved my own knowledge of the literature of liberty so as to become a better advocate.
- ___ I wrote a letter-to-the-editor in defense of liberty, limited government or personal responsibility.
- ___ I recommended a good article, book or film that advances values consistent with a free and civil society.
- ___ I sent a personal check to an organization I know to be working for the advancement of liberty ideas.
- ___ I resisted temptation to subvert liberty by accepting something from government that didn't belong to me and that required the government to take from someone else.
- ___ I took action to clean up my own act so that I can be a solid exemplar of the virtues necessary for a free society to flourish.
- ___ I checked out at least one textbook my son or daughter was assigned in school, explained to my children any fallacies I found and complained to the school about any that were especially egregious.
- ___ I told at least one of my representatives that if he or she ever voted for more government again, I would pull out all the stops to see him or her defeated in the next election.
- ___ I told my college alma mater that if they didn't start hiring faculty who know how to present and defend the case for free enterprise and create some intellectual balance on campus, they'll never, ever, get another dime from me.
- ___ I did nothing at all for liberty, except enjoy the fruits of it while leaving the battle for its restoration and preservation to others.
- ___ I was essentially a liberty freeloader today.
Lawrence W. Reed is president emeritus of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and president of the Foundation for Economic Education based in Irvington, N.Y., and Atlanta, Ga.