In A Free People’s Suicide, Guinness, founder of the Trinity Forum and the author or editor of more than 25 books, is asking the incredibly important question, “Can freedom—particularly American freedom—last forever?” Let that question sink in for a minute.
Scipio, in the moment of Rome’s victory, clearly foresaw its ultimate defeat. The question for us, just over two millennia later, is whether we in America can do anything to escape the same collapse.
Guinness explains how the Founders did a magnificent job creating our liberty, by winning the Revolution, and ordering our liberty, by giving us the Constitution, which has provided an ingenious system of checks and balances. But that’s not enough, because freedom has an inexorable tendency to undermine itself, because “the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom.”
We must also consciously work at sustaining our freedom, which is why, although a return to the Constitution is necessary to revitalize our democracy … it is not sufficient. Even more, as I said yesterday, we must recapture Tocqueville’s “habits of the heart.” These constitute the missing third leg of our democracy’s three-legged stool. Guinness advocates a return to what he calls a self-reinforcing Golden Triangle of Freedom, which he describes as “the cultivation and transmission of the conviction that freedom requires virtue, which requires faith, which requires freedom, which in turn requires virtue, which requires faith, which requires freedom and so on.”