Ben Franklin and the Real Meaning of Freedom

During the Bush administration, liberals often brought out one of Ben Franklin's more notable quotes "Those who are willing to give up a little freedom for a little security, wind up with neither freedom, nor security".

Whether they were referring to "illegal phone taps", the monitoring of money transfers, or the detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, they said that the President had overstepped his authority and sacrificed our freedom for our security. Did people on the left truly believe that President Bush sacrificed freedom for security by dealing with an unprecedented threat in this manner? Did they bring out Ben Franklin's words to conveniently advance their agenda and try to frame President Bush as a human rights abuser? In either case, liberals showed a remarkable lack of understanding about what freedom means.

Not understanding freedom, liberals are helpless in comprehending the constitution. There was another quote of Ben Franklin's. When Franklin got out of the constitutional convention, he was asked "what kind of government have you created a Republic or a Monarchy?" His response was "A Republic, IF YOU CAN KEEP IT".

The words "IF YOU CAN KEEP IT" mean that there is vigilance and work involved in maintaining the republic and the individual freedoms that the constitution looked at as something that was a natural right, not as something that had to be "given" to anyone. So, what exactly is freedom? Try looking it up on and you'll get 17 different definitions. Freedom is a concept, not a word.

Every time I'm stopped at a traffic light, my right of movement is obstructed. Is this a restriction on my freedom? Take away traffic lights and we'd have chaos on the roads. Road anarchy would rule the day. Driving on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, it's obvious that road anarchy already rules the day. Without traffic lights, freedom of movement would be more restricted, not less, because the lack of organization means that no one would get anywhere. Is freedom being sacrificed for security by installing traffic lights? Of course not --laws in a society are for everyone's benefit. There are situations where one person's freedom conflicts with another person's freedom and we need common sense laws so that everyone's freedoms are protected.