John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Defending our Freedom: Top Five Greatest Threats

Posted on May 28, 2012
It has become customary to thank our troops effusively for defending our freedoms, especially on Memorial Day.

And, of course, that expression of gratitude is altogether appropriate given the strains and stress we put on such a small percentage of the American population.

But while we thank the troops for their service to the country, we shouldn’t count on our troops to be the only ones defending our freedom. We all have a role to play.

We often lose sight of an essential truth.  The greatest threat to our freedom comes not from outside enemies.

In fact, I wouldn’t put outside enemies in the top five greatest threats to our freedom.

Top five:

  1. FEAR: The greatest threat to our freedom is fear. Throughout our nation’s history, when Americans are afraid of some unseen threat, they care little about civil liberties.  All too often, when faced with fear, we gladly sacrifice our freedom for a greater sense of security.  From the Alien and Sedition Laws pushed by John Adams, to Woodrow Wilson’s Palmer Raids, to Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist hysteria, the government moves quickest to squash freedom when fear is in the air.

  2. DEBT: The second greatest threat to our freedom is crushing debt. You can’t make investments in the future if you can’t make your finance payments. You can’t have a fully functioning government if that government is broke.

  3. IGNORANCE: The third greatest threat to our freedom is widespread ignorance. If the voters don’t know who they are voting for, what the critical issues are, how our system of government works, who their local representative is, or the basics of the Constitution, then freedom will not long survive.

  4. RELIGIOUS ZEALOTRY: The fourth greatest threat to our freedom is ideological or religious zealotry.  Our political system is based on compromise. Representative democracy only functions when the rights of the majority and minority are protected.  At a basic level, consensus is required by the vast majority of our citizens.  Otherwise, the system doesn’t work and freedom can’t be protected.  Zealots can’t abide by compromise.  And their passion is a threat to our freedoms.

  5. CYNICISM and INSOUCIANCE: The fifth greatest threat to our freedom is widespread cynicism and insouciance.  If the American people lose faith in the system, believe deeply that it is gamed against them, and don’t even bother to vote, then it won’t work.  Eventually, if the cynics win and insouciance prevails, only those who have a direct vested interest in governance will participate.

Our troops do a wonderful job of protecting us from external threats.  But we shouldn’t just sit back and let our men and women in uniform do all the work to preserve our freedoms.  We all have a part to play. We have to fight fear, get better informed, shout down the zealots, participate in the system, and make certain that the politicians don’t bankrupt the country.