The Corner

Trust in big government or die

Having singled out Rudy’s flattery of New Hampshirites for our all-time great state motto – “Live free or die” – I’ve received a ton of mail along the lines of the following:

I agree the “Live Free or Die” is a great motto and used to define the best traits of the Republican party. However, now the GOP motto seems to be “give up your treasured liberties or get blown up by terrorists.” I am personally fed up with the current brand of outrageous spending, big government, anti-liberty, pro-theocracy conservatism. I hope the GOP gets trounced in 2008. 


Wouldn’t it be better if that statement came from someone who actually believed in freedom (say, Ron Paul)?  Your statement perfectly reflects the GOP these days:  War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.  Where have I seen that before?

Putting aside Ron Paul (whose reductionist libertarian approach to foreign policy would give the ChiComs, Islamists and all the rest the run of the planet, and good luck holding out as a bastion of liberty in that world), I’ve been on record for some time as opposing Giuliani’s G-man approach to national security and his more general antipathy to the Second Amendment. The latter will doom him with base voters. I don’t even like the “America’s Mayor” thing. Bad as things are, most of the United States is not New York in the Dinkins era.

So, if by “Live free or die” Rudy means “Live in illusory safety guaranteed by a big security state or die”, then he doesn’t get it. He was very good at mocking the John Edwards line that the war on terror is “just a bumper sticker”. He shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking “Live free or die” is just a license plate slogan. It means individual liberty, not G-man perimeter-fence security.

A droll lady announcer on NPR the other day understood the distinction: reporting on the NH Senate’s rejection of a mandatory seatbelt law, she remarked, “Live free and die.”  

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.