The Free State of Florida
In his second inaugural address, Governor DeSantis declared that the Free State of Florida was the land of liberty and sanity. In his speech he referenced the Founding Fathers, Washington, Lincoln and events in history to support his vision of freedom and liberty.
His comments started me thinking and researching the concepts he emphasized. The Oxford dictionary defines freedom as, ”The power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hinderance.” Liberty is defined as, “The state of being free within a society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior or political views.” Both the Right and the Left see themselves fighting for their interpretation of these definitions, with “Woke Ideology” and “Christian Nationalism” among the threats to each of their freedom.
What were the Founding Fathers writing about? The Declaration of Independence asserts the inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. One wonders what has happened to the notions of life and happiness with all the concern for liberty?
The Constitution was formed, “…to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Clearly the first three goals were primary in their minds. They don’t seem to be as important in the halls of state and federal legislatures.
Washington was cited by the Governor, but his most important quote shares a concern most relevant today: “if we mean to support the liberty and independence that has cost us so much blood and treasure to establish, we must drive far away the demon of party spirit and local reproach.” Who is acting with bi-partisanship and building friends over demonizing enemies?
The Gettysburg address was referenced with the call for a new birth of freedom. The reference was not freedom from government intervention but the concept that all men are created equal and deserved equal protection. Yes, exercising one’s rights, “Must be free from government interference,” in Lincoln’s words elsewhere. One would think that applies to state governments as well as “entrenched bureaucrats in D.C.”
World War II was fought for a variety of reasons, but “Fighting for Freedom” was the most powerful call for men to sacrifice their lives. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech on the Four Freedoms was the clarion call. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These seem far more important than freedom from, “Jet setters in Davos and corporations wielding public power.”
Justice Louis Brandeis said, “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning, but without understanding.” Liberty is, in a greater sense, using freedom responsibly to do right by others. As Lincoln said, “Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves.” When we assert a definition of freedom as the right to do what we please, we miss DeSantis’s referenced “Hand of the Almighty” and God’s call to do what is right for others.