Without self-government, no other form of righteous government is possible. The only way to balance form and freedom in any larger society is when the individuals in that society know how to balance form and freedom in their own lives. The framework of structured liberty is freedom from vice on the individual level.
Those who would exercise despotic authority know this as much as lovers of liberty do. That is why they offer bribes. Sexual license, pot-smoking, porn everywhere, drunkenness create the sensations of liberty, but they are all things that can be indulged in a 6 by 8 prison cell. Truncated sensations of liberty are offered, and massive restraints on external liberty are imposed, and so you have a society that is simultaneously licentious and legalistic. That is where we are today.
It is appropriate for a free republic to elect a president to represent them. But when a republic starts to turn into a collectivist Hive, as ours has done, a more appropriate name for the head of the collectivist government would be something like “beekeeper.” The bees are externally constrained, and internally antinomian.
It is easy to think of legalism as one end of the spectrum and licentiousness at the other, with liberty occupying some kind of a middle position, as though liberty were a matter of averaging out legalism and license. But it is not like this at all. Liberty is not a matter of Aristotle’s golden mean. Legalism and license are conjoined Siamese twins at one end, and liberty is at the other. Liberty is the only alternative to both legalism and license.
Jesus said that our righteousness needed to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). They were a mass of rules, restrictions, and touch nots (legalism) but they were also a seething mass of lusts (Matt. 23:25). Internally it was all self-indulgence. They were not too righteousness, but rather not nearly righteous enough.
This liberty I am talking about, the liberty of the free man, is only possible as the liberty of a Christian man. And that means grace and gospel down in the bones.