Love It or Leave It?
by Michael S. Rozeff
Libertarians who criticize the United States government are sometimes told “If you don’t like it here, leave.” Sir Walter Scott’s lines are a poetic reply:
“Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land?
Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,
As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,
From wandering on a foreign strand?”
Even the patriotic song “This Is My Country” at least begins well with
“This is my country! Land of my birth!
This is my country! Grandest on earth!”
before it veers off into a pledge of allegiance, which is, however, to America, and not to the United States of America, which is America’s federal government.
One’s native land and country are not the government. America is not the United States of America, which is a government. One’s land and country are not the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and the Transportation Security Administration. Emotion felt toward one’s country is different than emotion felt toward the government of one’s country.
Why connect one’s consent or non-consent to government (one’s loving it or not) to staying in the country or leaving it? Why connect consent to location? If one does not consent to a government, why is exit from the country thought to be a necessary implication? Why not simply end one’s relations with that government and remain in the country?
The government won’t let you. That’s why.
A little background first.