by Andrew P. Napolitano
“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
To Thomas Jefferson, the fulcrum between the people and the government they have elected was fear. He argued succinctly that the government would only respect liberty if it feared losing power. Today, the relationship between people and government is power. Does the government have the power to tell us how to make personal choices, or do we have the power to tell the government to take a hike?
Stated differently, does the government work for us or do we work for the government?
Jefferson’s answer to that question in 1801, the year he became president, was that the government worked for us. Today, unfortunately, this same question has two answers — a functional one and a formal one. One would stumble answering this question if one looked only at how some state governors are treating the people for whom they claim to be working. One needs to look as well at the nature of government in a free society.