Not so long ago, it was a different time; we were a different people.

During the inauguration to his first term of office, Ronald Reagan declared, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”

It has been more than three decades, and yet many still remain indifferent to the profound truth behind his statement. Not only do most remain content in ignoring self-rule, our people have inched closer to realizing the creation of a nightmare scenario, a bourgeoning reality few have fought to alter – that politically speaking, our nation is lurching leftward toward socialism.

Naturally, some are distressed that we may have reached a national tipping point where a storied 51% of voters will forever guarantee a dependent populace demanding submission to big government. Because bureaucracy and liberty seldom coexist in the same sphere of influence, there exists a valid concern in conservative circles that our republic might be exchanging its birthright of liberty for the comforts, however delusory, of serfdom.

Alarm is justified, since generally speaking, Americans have always been independent and self-reliant. Whether realizing manifest destiny or defending our unalienable God given rights, there has always been a touch of nonconformity and rebellious independence in the American spirit. With painful lessons of revolution from Great Britain recollecting the abuses of monarchy, early patriots purposely fashioned a Constitution limiting the federal government’s authority to only delegated areas and dispersed public authority among three branches in the hope that each would resist unconstitutional aggression by the others.

It was their skepticism of government, not its embrace, which made them historically unique.

Building on their principle of self-rule, we have always understood the need for balance between freedom and order; and we built our hopes on a society based on individual liberty, free market economics and limited government. But now, citizens seemingly stand on the edge of a precipice, embracing and adoring the weight of federal authority in a fashion never envisioned by preceding generations.

Making matters worse, our politicians are guilty of encouraging the growth of government by demanding that it sustain and shelter us cradle-to-grave, while universally neglecting families, religious organizations, community charities and others that are better able to perform needed services. Producing a guardian society, they have abandoned historic precepts found in the Constitution, and “the people” have followed suit. Instead of encouraging independence, we have placed protectors in office who have suggested countless feel-good programs, using our desires of security to fuel their ambitious careers.

Whether the spirit-crushing consequences of Lyndon Johnson’s great society or President Obama’s delivery of government funded nationalized healthcare, irresponsible power seekers have advanced their careers by promising a little more on this and a little more on that; and a sizeable minority of Americans are now dependent on the federal government for their income, education, retirement and other amenities of life. Programs that once were focused only on the impoverished now extend across a broad economic spectrum, even as the number of people paying taxes continues to decrease.

Not only does the present system counteract the individual fruits of our labor, a shift toward dependency has wreaked havoc on our national essence, as the people have once again elected a radical president, one whose positions are more analogous to socialism than to traditional Democratic thought.

President Obama promises government solutions and racially transcendent salvation. Some even believe that he will save us from ourselves, promoting him as the people’s chief protector. Yet by supporting “change” that forces more of our citizenry closer to government addiction, his proponents are protracting the recapture of liberty and the restoration of our constitutional system.

With his re-election pushing our republic closer to the tipping point, it would appear that “free” is more important than “freedom” to a self-entitled generation of Americans.

***** State Senator Chris McDaniel