"Government can do something for the people only in proportion as it can do something to the people." -- Thomas Jefferson
"That [tyrannical government] power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?" --French historian Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
Are we the lobsters?
"Most of us imagine the transformation of a free society to a tyrannical state in Hollywood terms, as a melodramatic act of violence like a military coup or an armed insurrection. [Alexis de] Tocqueville knows better. He foresees a slow death of freedom. The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in every area of our lives until, like a lobster in a slowly heated pot, we are cooked without ever realizing what has happened. The ultimate horror of Tocqueville's vision is that we will welcome it, and even convince ourselves that we control it. There is no single dramatic event in Tocqueville's scenario, no storming of the Bastille, no assault on the Winter Palace, no March on Rome, no Kristallnacht. We are to be immobilized, Gulliver-like, by myriad rules and regulations, annoying little restrictions that become more and more binding until they eventually paralyze us. ... Permitting the central government to assume our proper responsibilities is not merely a transfer of power from us to them; it does grave damage to our spirit. It subverts our national character. In Tocqueville's elegant construction, it 'renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself.' Once we go over the edge toward the pursuit of material wealth, our energies uncoil, and we become meek, quiescent and flaccid in the defense of freedom." --author Michael Ledeen
"This is the real task before us: to reassert our commitment as a nation to a law higher than our own, to renew our spiritual strength. Only by building a wall of such spiritual resolve can we, as a free people, hope to protect our own heritage and make it someday the birthright of all men." --Ronald Reagan