Liberty is a fundamental principle of life. It is uniquely individual, but must include all. It is nonpartisan and accepts all beliefs. Because it is so embedded into the fabric of our lives, it is easy to take for granted. To perpetuate liberty, it must be nurtured and we can never lose sight of its value.
The most critical action, for sustaining liberty, is the vote we cast at each and every election. Our primary responsibility is to elect political leaders that are champions of liberty. It is imperative that we carefully scrutinize their words and their actions. Candidates that prioritize our values deserve our financial support as well as support at the precinct level.
Getting to know a candidate, and what they hold dear, is paramount to making an intelligent decision. It entails asking pointed questions and evaluating their past actions. It is important to listen to their words, as we observe their actions. If they talk a good labor talk, but downplay the problems with so-called ‘right to work’ efforts, they need to be further scrutinized. It must be apparent that their values and ours mesh. The Central Labor Councils in our communities work hard to evaluate and endorse worthy candidates.
We are the people that will be represented by a candidate, and we should provide the necessary funds required to reach voters. There is a practical reason for our financial support. When large donors are allowed to control our legislators, our liberty is compromised. But our smaller donations can diminish the power of the rich and the powerful, as our values and agenda gain a higher level of priority.
I believe you would agree with me that we do not want a philosophy that does not include ethics or morality to control the legislators we depend upon to support our freedom and our economic security. Neither a corporation nor a powerful individual should speak for more than one.
The most powerful affirmation of liberty occurs when we cast our votes. When a person chooses to not vote, it is one less person that can hold a politician accountable. Our liberty demands that we determine who represents us. Liberty also demands that we extend the right to vote to all citizens. It is the vote, of all citizens, that maintains the health and vitality of our democracy.
The quest for personal liberty is the reason citizens from other countries so desperately want to immigrate to America. We have what they value, but to maintain that value, liberty has to be nourished. From vetting the candidates, to providing financial support, to getting out the vote, it is essential we are involved in the entire process.
The struggle for freedom, in 1776, almost failed, but it has not totally succeeded either. The sacrifices made in 1776 to provide the foundation for our personal freedom are unheard of in human history. Yet, too many are left out. The disenfranchisement of people of color, the treatment of women as second-class citizens, and using propositions to deny human rights are all exercises in tyranny. Achieving personal liberty is a lot like grasping for a firefly. It is usually a futile attempt, and if the light of liberty only shines for a few, it can go out.
–Bill Wallace, IBEW 1245 Retirees Club