“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” ~Benjamin Franklin
The US Constitution guarantees liberty. It does not guarantee public safety. This is the bedrock of our society, but not everyone remembers this. I say “remember” because we were all taught it at some point. It is a part of the naturalization test for new citizens, and everyone who attended grade school in the US read Patrick Henry’s famous “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech at some point. It’s an odd thing to consider as a child – someone choosing to die rather than give up this seemingly intangible concept of liberty.
I can understand why some people have lost sight of the correct choice between safety and liberty. Though the US has grossly violated the rights of certain groups, we are by and large one of the freest nations in the world, and it is becoming more difficult for the typical citizen to understand what life devoid of liberty looks like. The recent uptick in mass attacks – though overall violence is down – certainly makes me a little uneasy and wanting to feel safer. There are many rational reasons that some in the US have forgotten the primacy of liberty over safety, but we must actively advocate for our liberty lest it slowly be eroded by the entirely rational search for peace.
I think about this a lot because I’ve served in the military for over a decade, and the US Military is unique in that officers swear allegiance to the Constitution, not the head of state. This is a big deal – we are the only nation in the world that does this. All other militaries swear allegiance to the head of state. For example, my British counterparts swear: “I (state your name), swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II her heirs and successors…” Let me quote to you the oath of office I took on 28 May, 2005:
“I, (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God”
I swore to defend the Constitution only, no other person or document, and as odd as it seems, that means I swore to defend your liberty, not your safety. True, the preamble of the Constitution says we shall “provide for the common defense” but there is no explicit guarantee of safety in the same way that we see a guarantee of liberty in the Bill of Rights and several other sections.
So this is actually really cool: the most powerful military in the world has sworn to defend your liberties. Providing safety is an inevitable component of defending your liberties, but never forget that our nation was founded on the principle that our government, and its servants, are here to defend your liberty.
To me this provides an important framework that is codified in the principles of SAM–and is a key reason why I have joined the effort to put people before party. SAM promises to resist discrimination against anyone based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability. The success or happiness of any one group in no way diminishes yours and we must not let fear consume the political discourse.
Our form of government allows you, as an individual citizen, to have a tangible and positive impact on our society. So vote for candidates who support liberty. Encourage diversity in thought, word, and deed. Get involved in your community and organizations that have a positive impact; our nation is great because of the actions of individual citizens.
-Joshua Riojas, a SAM Founder
Joshua is a West Point and Harvard graduate and a veteran of both combat and humanitarian operations. He is currently a small business owner and active in his local community.
SAM is building a new political party for a new majority. Our goal is to break the self-interested stranglehold of the two entrenched parties and give back power and voice over our future, and our country, to the people.
We can’t do it without you.