I have been thinking a lot lately about the concept of freedom and liberty as it pertains to the discussions that we have here at Stand Up For America. I read the responses that come in to the things that I write. Often I can find plenty of people who are more than willing to agree with me or tell me how wrong I am. But what I have have been attempting to ascertain is the level of commitment that people have to the principles that they espouse on this site. Remember, quite a while ago, I spoke to the idea that some things I would write would be discussions about how things should be while others would be more concerned with dealing with where we really are. Well, what I offer tonight is a bit of a combination of the two. Because in the discussions that we have been having around the way things are, I have begun to feel like the way things should be is not something most are comfortable with.
What I mean to say is this: I have come to fear that the vast majority of Americans do not want to be free in the truest sense of the word. That isn’t to say that they don’t want more freedom than they have. But the concept of freedom as the most diehard believers see it is a concept that many simply are not willing to deal with. And this is not a rant against those on the left who advocate larger government doing more and more while taking more and more freedoms away. This is my opinion about those on both sides who advocate for the rights of the “state” over the rights of the individual in any situation.
It is easy to attack the left on this issue. They work on the false premise of the collective being more important than the individual. What I mean is, it is in their DNA to say freedom but to actually mean freedom so long as it contributes to the “greater good” myth that they have. I have never met a Democrat that truly believed that the liberty of the individual was more important than the collective. I understand that this is a fundamental core belief difference. I don’t “fault” them for this belief. It really isn’t their fault, after all. A traitorous public education system instills the importance of the collective into folks beginning on day one when they are taught that “if you didn’t bring enough for everyone, you can’t have it.”
What many don’t realize, is that it is just as easy to attack the right on this issue. Because in the end, the GOP does the exact same thing as the Democrats, they are just on the other sides of the issues. They believe it is their right to trample the individual liberties so long as they are doing it for “moral reasons”. After all, we can’t let those evil gay folks do something as hideous as declare their love for each other in a church that agrees to marry them. No, Republicans, despite all your rhetoric and claims, you are just as against freedom as the Democrats are. Claiming otherwise means you simply lack the ability to be honest with yourself.
But the question that needs to be answered is this: Why exactly do the two major parties in the United States political game both trample the idea of individual liberty? I mean a vast majority of Americans, if questioned about individual issues, will contradict the idea of individual liberty at some point. The religious right believes in individual liberty as long as you are doing it God’s way. The liberal left believes in individual liberty as long as it doesn’t interfere with what is best for the collective. And both sides throw the phrase around as though they actually support individual liberty! They don’t. Freedom is something that is talked about a lot in America, but true freedom is NOT what the vast majority of Americans want. Why do you think that is? I have a theory, or better put, a belief…..
The vast amount of Americans are scared to death of true freedom.
From this point on in the article, when I refer to freedom, I am talking about real freedom. The freedom to do whatever you want to do so long as it does not impose on anyone else. The kind of freedom that most in America make fun of as though the idea itself is a crackpot theory believed only by those too stupid to understand a complex modern world.
Freedom is hard. Freedom takes a lot of work. And most important, freedom takes a level of personal responsibility that most Americans are not willing to take, because they are not confident that they can survive in a world where they have to be responsible for their own actions and live with the consequences of them.
Freedom means that you are responsible on your own for finding out what is safe and what is not. It means that you are responsible for the care of your own body. It means that you are responsible for planning to be comfortable when you are no longer able to work. It means that you are responsible for researching a bit the people that you choose to enter into business agreements with. It means that no matter what the action is that you take, there is not a big government watchdog that is sitting out there doing the work for you. Take a look at some of the personal responsibility that is given away even though the alternative is clearly a disaster.
Social Security. The majority of Americans get their panties in a bunch when social security reform is mentioned. Talk about eliminating social security and you will see fainting spells nationwide. In the 2004 Presidential campaign, Bush proposed that we take just 2% of the 14% of our compensation that goes to social security and be personally responsible for investing it. Just 2%. And the American public rejected it. It was too much for Americans to be responsible for that 2%. They would rather that the government continued to collect it and not save a single dime. They would rather continue to give it to the government to spend away on the miniscule chance that they might see some of it again one day when they get old. Freedom was too hard.
Health Care. As we saw lately, many Americans are more that willing to turn their health care over to the federal government despite a government track record of ZERO PERCENT of government programs reducing costs or coming in under budget. Their health care! Put the partisan games away for a minute, is there anyone that actually believes that the government is going to make health care better or cheaper? Yet because they don’t want to have to do the work themselves to make health care better or cheaper, they turn it over to the federal government. Freedom is just too hard.
Government Education. It isn’t “public”, it is government. My number one target for reform in this country. We have allowed the government to raise our children. We have watched as the government education system in the United States has relegated what is supposed to be the land of opportunity into a second rate education haven. Our children cannot do any of the staples at the level of other industrialized countries. And we spend more money per child than just about everyone. Despite private schools doing a better job for less money per student, Americans oppose the idea of privatizing education. The results speak for themselves: Government run education is a massive failure. And people still want government to do it, buying into that false belief that throwing more money at it is the answer. They do so because being responsible for your own child’s education is too much work. Freedom is just too hard.
I can do examples like this all day long. And I encourage others to add more examples to the comments below. Unions negotiating wages, the FCC protecting kids from harmful broadcasting, the FDA approving food and drugs, government regulating business, and countless other examples abound. But for expediency in this article, I think everyone gets the point. In general, Americans don’t want freedom in the truest sense of the word. Americans no longer believe in individual liberty.
Imagine immigrants to this country throughout history. They came here because the very idea of freedom and individual liberty was so appealing that they were willing to risk treacherous ocean crossings and give up everything they had for a mere chance at being truly in control of their own destinies. The founders of this country believed in the idea of freedom and liberty to such an extent that they risked a war with one of the world’s greatest powers to gain it. Many of the patriots that started this country lived, and died, just to give us the chance at liberty that they believed every man was entitled to.
And what do we have today? An America where the people are only interested in which party will make their life easier. Not more free. Easier. How sad is that? Americans want their toughest decision to be who to vote for on American Idol, which fast food joint should I get on the way home, or should I buy a Toyota or a Honda? They want their corporate ventures to be low risk (the only reason that the “corporation” exists is to mitigate risk), their children bussed across town to a “better” public school, and their children to always get a trophy, even for finishing in last place.
Look at the way that those who espouse the ideas of true freedom are debated and dismissed, even on this site. To want a world where one is the only one responsible for their own lives is considered crazy. They are told that they simply don’t understand a complex world. They are told that it cannot work, despite the fact that America grew into the best country in the world with true freedom as its principle, and has been on the decline every year since our liberties began being taken away. The bigger government has gotten, the more our individual liberty has been usurped, and the faster the United States has barreled towards losing its status as the best country in the world.
The belief that true freedom cannot work, or that individual liberty cannot exist in today’s complex world, is overwhelming. And it is patently false. Those who believe that it cannot work fall into one of two categories. They are either afraid of being responsible for their own lives, or they are too lazy to want to have to do the work that comes with freedom. I know that statement is going to piss a lot of people off, but so be it. It is what I believe. And the unfortunate fact is that the vast majority of Americans fall into one of those two categories.
Freedom is hard. There is no doubt about that simple fact. True liberty and freedom would make our lives far harder to live than they are today. But I guarantee one thing: While our lives would be harder, they would be far more worth living. I may not see true freedom in my lifetime, but just striving for it will make my life better. It is the one thing in this world that should trump every other thing. I know that not everyone believes that. And you are entitled to that belief. But if you don’t believe that individual liberty is the most important thing….. you are simply wrong.
I will continue to push for whatever takes me one step closer to realizing freedom as the universal right that cannot be trumped by anything else. That means that I will support some things that don’t get us 100% of the way there, but move us on that path. Getting there is going to take small steps. Nikita Khrushchev once said, “We can’t expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism.” Freedom is much the same way. So I offer the USWeapon converse quote: