"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent ... The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding."
Louis D. Brandeis, Olmstead vs. United States, 1928
Those words by former Supreme Court Justice Brandeis, written as part of a dissent in a case that allowed the conviction of a bootlegger despite evidence gained by illegal government wiretaps, should have special resonance for Americans this July Fourth weekend.
But alas, they won't.
The purpose of this most patriotic of American holidays is to celebrate the Declaration of Independence, the nation's historic cornerstone document which put forth in writing the grievances of the colonies with King George and set the stage for revolution.
This year, more than at any time in recent memory, the ideals and intent of those who set forth to carve a new nation by separating from the oppressive government of the king of Great Britain deserve to be the subject of intelligent discourse in every household in the nation.
Instead, we'll all cook another hot dog, grab a drink, take a dip in the pool and watch a ballgame, oblivious to the changes taking place in our national government, or worse yet, welcoming them.
A sea change is taking place in the halls of power in Washington, where the power and scope of government is being expanded in ways those who drafted the nation's founding documents likely never could have imagined.
From taking control of private businesses to mapping out government health care, the federal government is embarking on a strategic move to rapidly grow bigger and more powerful than ever before.
In doing so, those in the seats of power are more than willing to sacrifice personal liberty and responsibility for governmental power and control.
At the current rate of "change we can believe in," the American people will be totally dependent upon their government from cradle to grave within a generation.
The concepts of individual choice, personal freedom and liberty from oppressive government intervention that were core beliefs for many of those who lay the foundation upon which the nation was built will be forgotten forever.
To the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the concept of liberty was considered an "unalienable right" of the people, one which the government was expected to protect, not destroy.
The concept of the pending "nanny state" is one which would have been as reprehensible to our founding fathers as was the tyranny of the British sovereign.
And yet today, with an amazing indifference, we willingly accept the idea that soon we will depend on the government to provide our health care, manage our money, and create our jobs.
That it will do so by taking away our civil liberties and taxing future generations at onerous levels is of little to no concern for those willing to bow to the kings and queens of Washingtonian power.
It was Benjamin Franklin, a signer of the Declaration, who said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
You have to wonder if perhaps the visionary was seeing the nation's future, and predicting correctly what it might become without the vigilance of the populace.