Sen. Rodgers and Pres. Eisenhower on Surrendering Freedom

August 7, 2018

By David Flemming

On August 2, VT Digger and Channel 17 Town Meeting Television held a forum in advance of Vermont’s August 14 primary. They hosted five Democrat candidates running for Vermont governor (from left to right): Senator John Rodgers, Ethan Sonneborn, James Ehlers, Christine Hallquist and Brenda Siegel. Xander Landen is a VT Digger reporter serving as moderator for the debate, closest to the camera.

The first four candidates praised Governor Scott’s signing of the three gun restriction bills that culminated in the signing of S.55, but State Senator John Rodgers objected: “I did not support S.55. That is a bill that does take away Vermonters’ Constitutional rights. If we truly want safety then let’s look at the First Amendment. Maybe we should give the government and law enforcement access to everybody’s phones and computers and license plate readers and facial recognition and that would make everybody safer. But I don’t think we’re willing to give up our First Amendment rights for that. And I think all’s we did is turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.”

While folks may disagree with Rodgers on other things, his well-articulated response should give us all pause. Rodgers’ succinctly makes the case for Vermonters’ sacred freedoms, contrasted with a desire for safety. His question is plain, but weighty: “would you rather be safe, or be free?” At one time in Vermont’s history, the vast majority of us would have answered “free” without hesitation. But as the world seems to spin out of control, an ever growing number of Vermonters are finding themselves willing to give up some of their rights and responsibilities if they can get more safety.

Imagine a police force that had permission to use artificial intelligence to sift through millions of text messages originating from Vermont cell phones, thereby identifying “future criminals,” before finally confiscating firearms from those it deemed “a security risk.” We might be able to stop a few crimes this way.  But we would all sacrifice a great deal of freedom in the process.

As President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “if you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom.” No government can ever provide “total security,” but that has never prevented governments from trying to convince citizens that this is possible. And once the government decides what quantities of healthcare and defense weapons each person is entitled to, those who are willing to work harder for higher quantities will find themselves constrained by what government deems are the “right amounts for everyone.” Those amounts often look suspiciously like rations.

While our legislators have made Vermont less free in recent years, we are still free to make choices that the majority of the global population can only dream about. Let us be grateful that we live where we do, even as we fight to make Vermont a freer place to live.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Roger Joslin August 8, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Good One!!

Reply

Robert August 8, 2018 at 7:46 pm

It’s a good thing no intelligence test is required before citizens get to vote away their freedom. It’s amazing how many simpletons think a few more laws are going to stop all crime and violence forever. Phil Scott is a traitor and I, a lifelong conservative would vote for John Rodgers any day of the week over the traitor.

Reply

Glenn Foster August 13, 2018 at 11:59 am

I wonder what the murder rate, per 100,000, is for the prison population versus the public at large…

Reply

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