Is 'Saving Freedom' a Lost Cause?
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - In his new book, Saving Freedom, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint provides a detailed, first hand account on what he sees as an unsettling shift into socialism here in the United States. Detailing key principles of freedom and how they are being compromised, Sen. DeMint shares a comprehensive action plan designed to reverse America’s cultural decline while restoring a spirit of God and country in the process.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Sen. DeMint to discuss how freedom is being compromised in this country, the dangers of socialism, and an interesting perspective on slowing down cultural decline.
Your book is called Saving Freedom which implies freedom is being compromised in some way. Why do you think our freedom is under such attack? I am sure there are a myriad of reasons but if you could pinpoint a couple of things what would you say?
It is the incremental growth of government, the federal government particularly since the Depression. I write about this in the book. In almost every area of our lives the government has begun to intrude. It’s growing, it’s spending more, and a lot Americans no longer understand where the line is between a limited government and a free people. The government is now in every area of our lives – education, business, health care, and so we have become more accepting of the government’s role. What I try to do in Saving Freedom is help people understand how freedom works and how you can’t mix socialism with it. We are really better off when we have more choices and can make our own decisions. We are really not more secure when the government controls things.
In your estimation what are the key principles of freedom and how do you think they are being eroded?
The principles of freedom begin with limited government and that is why our only oath of office is to protect and defend the Constitution. The Constitution limits what the government can do and it gives the rights to states and people. That is basically what the Tenth Amendment says. Once that happens we realize that what makes freedom work begins with the individual. Individual responsibility, skills, character, all that works in America begins with an individual who has the character and skills to succeed in a free society. Around that individual is our churches, the free enterprise system, all the voluntary institutions, and a constitutional rule of law system where you have a predictable framework of law that people can operate in. But there is a lot of freedom within it. Once you take that individual out of the middle and put the government in the middle and assume everything revolves around government people instead of being responsible for themselves become dependent. They become very entitlement minded. They become less skilled and less able. We begin to decline as a nation. That is what I am trying to explain in Saving Freedom. There is a clear line between what works and what doesn’t. It has been proven in history so many times that I am surprised we are still debating it.
You have mentioned socialism a bit here today in our discussion. We have heard that term floating in the air a fair amount lately in relation to health care reform. What have been some of the historical failures of it?
It is the tendency of all countries to believe that if you have a problem the government can solve it. It’s the tendency of politicians to take their good intentions and want to pass laws and regulations to implement and to basically manage society. But we can see, and I outline it in the book. Particularly Europe, going from the 19th Century to the 20th Century, the social programs and dependency that began to develop in Italy, Germany and across Europe, the government control of industry, generally resulted in tyrants because as a government becomes more and more dysfunctional the people want somebody to step up and save it. That’s why socialism often leads to dictatorships and the tyrants we have seen through history. But it makes countries less prosperous economically. The social and spiritually vitality disappears in those countries. They become weak militarily and subject to outside control. So, we have seen socialism fail in Europe. In China, it was basically just a poor nation until the capitalist principles began to invade as well as Christianity. There are probably more Christians in China today than there in the United States. And you see capitalism spring from that. You also saw it in the Soviet Union.
We hear the term ‘Big Government’ all the time. What are some of the biggest challenges of having a ‘Big Government’?
For one thing, the level of spending and debt for big government is threatening everything we have as a nation. The level of debt that we now have as a country is completely unsustainable. We don’t even know how we are going to pay the interest which means our generation, our children, and grandchildren are likely to have to work harder for a dollar that is worth a whole lot less. It is likely that they are going to pay a lot higher taxes. This is the kind of thing that has killed economies all over the world. Big government first means debt and a lower quality of life but it also means less personal choices for individuals – which we can’t make choices in our life based on things that we value. That is really important to people of faith. Once the government takes over education we don’t have choices unless we have a lot of money. Once the government takes over health care we don’t choose our doctors. Once the government takes over our energy system we can’t decide to drill for oil or natural gas and develop nuclear power. They control that. So, everywhere the government expands our choices go away. We can’t live free if we can’t make choices.
Changing gears just a little bit, have your views on freedom changed since you were elected to Congress ten years ago?
They have actually grown stronger and have become crystallized. I came to Congress not with a lot of political ideas. I was a business guy. I had four children. I was an elder in my church. I had seen how freedom could work in your family and how volunteerism builds communities. The more I am in government the more I see government can’t replace that. As much as it tries it can’t do all the things it promises. I am more convinced today that the solutions to our problems are to allow freedom to work in more areas of our lives. That doesn’t mean we just leave people on their own. Government can play a role of facilitating and making sure everyone for instance has good choices of schools. Everyone has a health plan they can own and keep. We can do that without government running these things.
One thing I truly appreciated about this book is that you stressed the importance of the traditional family. The family is losing so much ground in today’s society. Also, you stressed the importance of an individual’s faith. With faith and family in mind, what are some ways we can stop or slow down this cultural decline we seem to be in?
We can no longer accept this idea that separation of church and state means a separation of God and country. It is a perverted way to express what our founders were trying to say. What they said very clearly is that our government should make no laws that affect the practice of religion. It has been turned around to basically say there can be no religion in society unless you want to stand within the walls of your church on Sunday – that is basically where it is allowed. We can’t compartmentalize truth. As Christians we cannot allow that to continue where there is a political truth and an economic truth and then there is cultural truth and we as Christians have a separate truth that is not rational or allowed in these other areas. What I am trying to say in the book is that the values and principles that spring from the judeo Christian value system are what holds up the functioning democracy, our free enterprise system, and a culture that is good by nature, the nature of Christ. That means we don’t need to have an oppressive government to keep us in line. But once you sweep that away and say it only belongs in the church, the rest of the systems begin to fail. We see that in America today with our economic system, our political system, and our culture is declining to a large degree because our government is forcing secularization on our whole civil society.
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