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OPINION | DAN SULLIVAN: By what power?

Government should protect rights by DAN SULLIVAN SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | August 27, 2021 at 3:05 a.m.

From the days of the Romans to the American Revolution to today, government power and individual rights have clashed, leading to the question: "By what power and with whose authority does government do these things to us?"

People are endowed with inalienable rights from God. It is the job of the government to protect those rights.

The Bill of Rights speaks exclusively about limiting the ability of government, not about empowering it. We the people consent to limited governmental authority to secure our rights. However, if at any time our government overreaches or becomes destructive, "it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it," according to the Declaration of Independence.

But as we look around at the sweeping changes in our republic, this foundational principle seems often forgotten.

By what authority do public libraries introduce sexually explicit material to the children's section and promote an ideology without parents' consent?

By what authority do public schools usurp parental rights, become activist institutions pursuing political indoctrination, impose new curricula, and force our kids into divisive identity groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, and gender?

By what authority do governors shut down small businesses and commerce, enacting one-sided tiered re-openings favoring big business with no set criteria and data to support the edict? By what authority does a governor continue to re-establish his emergency powers that were once described by the Arkansas Department of Health attorney as "unbounded?"

By what authority do companies mandate a vaccine, threatening people's employment with failure to comply?

Many citizens were satisfied to self-limit for months, sacrificing family gatherings, holiday celebrations, and school and church activities. Now government seeks to force behavior, treating citizens as subjects rather than supreme. But no more. History and today's times teach that an over-reaching government can be as perilous as any virus we battle.

How do we rein in an over-reaching government trampling our God-given rights? We look at the greatest counsel for guidance. Love God and one another.

Loving our neighbors does not look like lockdowns, mandates, and authoritarian rule. Loving your neighbor as yourself acknowledges the balance of personal freedom with individual responsibility and is only done willingly, not by mandates.

Dan Sullivan is a first-term state senator representing Senate District 21 in northeast Arkansas. He sits on the Public Health and City, County and Local Affairs committees, and is chairman of the State Agencies Legislative Joint Audit Committee.

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