Here is one of the problems with the conflicting arguments being made by some on the very conservative right. On the one hand they are all in favor of energy independence. On the other hand, they are all in favor of the right of the rugged individual to control his own land, his own business, without outside government interference. What most do not ever contemplate is what happens when there is a conflict of ideals. That is, our Founding Fathers understood that there can be offsetting freedoms. More than once courts have ruled that the Freedom of the Press can be limited by legitimate security concerns, especially during wartime. As one Supreme Court Justice pointed out, Freedom of Speech does not give one the right to shout “fire” in a crowded theater. There are several other examples I could give, but these two will suffice.
During the Presidential campaign, the issue of the Keystone Pipeline was raised by conservatives as an example of President Obama’s willingness to hurt the energy stance of this country in order to satisfy what is supposedly a few environmentalists. That is, the principle that was set out is that sometimes general principles must yield to the greater good. I actually have no problem with that principle. It is a sound principle, and has been upheld by the courts. Sometimes individual liberties win, sometimes the good of the greater community wins. I can live with that type of uncertainty.
However, look at the video above. Here the Keystone Pipeline could possibly be delayed not by environmentalists, but by a very conservative person who believes that the government has no right to take her land. That is, she does not believe that the doctrine of eminent domain applies to people in the USA. This is her land, and she could care less about the common good. It is her land. Very conservative persons strongly support the right of those who own land to keep their lands and to decide what happens on their land.
But, those very same conservatives argued vehemently that the common good meant that the pipeline needed to be built on the shortest and most economical common route, regardless of any rules or regulations that stood in its way. Can you see the conflict? If there is consistency, then the very conservative persons who vehemently opposed President Obama, when he wished to divert the Keystone Pipeline around some areas, must now oppose this individual owner and condemn her every bit as strongly as they did President Obama because she is obstructing the energy independence of this country. I somehow doubt they will.
But, there is a lesson in government here for us. Government is all about balancing various rights and responsibilities. If we try to make our freedoms absolute, then it becomes impossible to balance out the various freedoms in such a way that we can have a coherent government. If every person who owns a plot of land has the right to keep a government from building a road or a pipeline, based on the right of ownership, then public high-speed highways would become an impossible dream, as would oil pipelines such as the Keystone Pipeline.
But worse, if we try to emphasize individual liberty to the exclusion of the common good, then there is no way to have a society with common purposes and common goals. There is a balance between individual liberty and the common good. The more we forget that, the more our country will descend into more chaos than that which our Congress has descended into. Ultimately, if individual liberties are everything, we will end up with as many countries as there are Protestant denominations.
We are in no danger whatsoever of descending into collectivism in the USA. That is a false boogey man that is raised up merely for electioneering purposes. But, there is a very real danger that we will descend into a self-contradictory type of anarchy.