Liberty vs. Security; both are seemingly broad terms, but due to current events, circumstances have occured resulting in an infringement on liberty because of issues regarding national security thus, creating problems for citizens and politicians alike. Liberty is best defined as a concept that identifies the condition in which an individual has the right to act according to his/her free will. Security is the degree of protection from danger, loss, or criminals.
The problem lies in that there are many different views on what the government’s role on the proper balance between the two should be. The proper balance between liberty and security is an equilibrium unless in specific events or time periods where the rules are determined by all registered voters. The government does reserve the right to create equal proportions of liberty and security for their citizens. Many people claim that the United States government is overstepping their rights by taking away some of our liberties to provide security for us.
Even though they have a valid point, this statement is purely incorrect. In the US Constitution, the founding fathers created articles and amendments to protect us and our liberties. For example, in Article I, Section 8, it says that “Congress shall have power to…provide for the common defense,” and it also goes into detail about allowing for an army to protect the states. Also written in the document are rules about allowing the three branches of government, judicial, legislative and executive, to create rules concerning the well-being of the country and the people.
By going against the wishes of the founding fathers, we could easily become anarchy. In Document A, Benjamin Franklin writes that people who would give up liberty for temporary safety deserve neither. On the contrary, if safety isn’t provided for our citizens then liberty may not exist. To explain this, the example of the anarchic situations in African states can be used. Since no security was created (or wasn’t made strong enough) there is now chaos in the countries and no protection for any of the inhabitants.
They have no rights, and there is a constant danger/threat to their lives. This works with Document B, where in one instance Ron Paul says that, “Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. ” It is true that that feat would be impossible, but we need some form of protection to ensure basic liberties for citizens. A person can’t have basic liberties of freedom of speech and press when they may be under the rule of gangs or local crime figures who try to control every bit of their life.
If the security was poor, you would have frantic citizens who may not be able to exercise basic liberties because they fear of bad things happening to them by the people who are in control. The above mentioned should be used in normal situations, but exceptions need to be made in times of national crisis. For example, in Document F, Morgan Streetman writes that the leaders of the nation are always faced with the question of what do we do about this or that crisis. They are always faced with the pressure to protect the country in our weakest moments, even by the hypocrites that think national security is over-rated.
During national emergencies it doesn’t matter who or where we are, everyone needs assurance that things will turn out okay. In Document D, Peter Moskos sums up his writing by saying that giving up a few liberties leads to giving them all up. However, he’s incorrect because some precautions do need to be made. If not, we could have tragedies like September 11th everyday. Many rules have previously made by leaders like Abraham Lincoln’s habeus corpus suspension during the Civil War closely tied to the creation of martial laws.
In certain events, extreme security is needed, and should be completely justified. In order to establish what is right or wrong without corruption, the public should have the final say on what needs to happen because they are ultimately the ones who will be affected by these new enforcements. Similar to presidential elections, a national vote should happen during a time of peace, on what precautions the government needs to take during these stressful time periods. The purpose of the election is to get an adequate sample of what the citizens believe their ratio of security to liberty is.
A difference would be the removal of the Electoral College. Instead of having the views censored by elected officials, it needs to be the raw wishes of the population. The significance of having it during peace time would be that during emergencies, people get frantic and desperate. Decisions would inevitably be clouded by fear and overall craziness. Ben Franklin once said that, “Passion never governs wisely,” and this certainly holds true to a person’s reaction during war or difficult moments.
However, the government will react to what the people want, and will come up with laws or actions that would be beneficial to our society. For example, Document G is a political cartoon that is about the US Patriot Act. In it, Clay Bennett has depicted the O as an eye, and in the eye, the national symbol of the eagle. This act took away many of the rights given to citizens, like being able to tap phones or check mail. Even though it was fought by many of the civil rights groups, it was necessary.
It showed America that the government did care about our safety and indeed helped us pursue protection and necessary conditions for the health of the United States. In conclusion, liberty and security are risky topics in today’s society but need to be addressed. By creating a set plan of the balance of these two concepts, fewer problems will ensue and a more peaceful nation will be created. Using the information stated above, it has been proven that liberty and security need to be balanced unless in certain given situations.