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Freedom Is A Dirty Word Among Progressives

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Freedom Is A Dirty Word Among Progressives

Freedom Is A Dirty Word Among Progressives
May 14
15:36 2020

At the founding of the nation, the framers of the Constitution saw the concept of personal freedom to be paramount in considering the structure of this new Republic.  While they drew upon the history of ancient experiments in republican democracy, they went much further in advancing the notion of extensive personal freedoms based on what they proclaimed to be the inalienable God-given rights of the people.

Thomas Jefferson declared that the policy of the new federal government  was to “leave citizens free, neither restraining them nor aiding them in their pursuits.”

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Furthermore, the Founders were almost unanimous in their belief that the greatest threat to personal freedom was government – especially a powerful central government far removed from the influence of the people.

Thomas Paine declared: ““It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”   President Reagan rightfully noted that “government is not part of the problem.  It IS the problem.”

In fact, the Constitution grants no rights.  The Founders assumed rights and powers naturally rise from the people and are not to be artificially limited by government decree.  Rather, they crafted the Constitution to protect the rights and freedoms of we the people against the intrusions of government.

In addition to specifically banning the government from limiting our speech, our right to assemble, to practice of our religions, to bear arms, etc. etc. etc., they concluded the Bill of Rights with the Tenth Amendment, which declared that all powers not specifically granted to the federal government are automatically retained by the several states and the people of those states.

Individual freedom is constantly under assault from elitist autocrats who believe that they – as a class – have a right and obligation to rule over the less intelligent, less noble and less able masses.  These elitist authoritarian forces come in many forms – communism, fascism, monarchy, and dictatorships.  Their commonality is that that they all rise from the big-government left-wing of the political continuum.  In America today, they are the so-called progressives.

Normally, they hide behind a veil of beneficence – intimating that by surrendering individual freedom, we will somehow be freer.  There are siren calls that promise security in exchange for the surrender of choice-based personal freedoms.  It is what Benjamin Franklin warned when he said: “They who would give up essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty nor security.”

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the left has dropped all pretenses of offering more freedom in exchange for more central power by a powerful government.  Democrats and left-wing activists now talk openly against the very foundation of the Republic and the Constitution – personal freedom.  They argue that too much freedom is bad because people will do things that are not proper –  at least in the eyes of the ruling class.

Many years ago, I had as my dinner partner the Ambassador from the old Soviet Union.  It was during the tumultuous 1980 presidential campaign.  He bragged that the Soviet system spared the people the chaos associated with American-style elections.  That is how the left thinks.

In her Twitter screeds against free speech, New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez raised a rhetorical question. “For those who believe in ‘free speech’: whose free speech do you believe in?”  The conservative answer is simple.  Everyone’s.  Only a doctrinaire left-winger would distinguish between politically acceptable and unacceptable speech.

The bible of the left – the New York Times – has even editorialized against personal freedom.  In a recent editorial, Opinion Writer-at-Large Charlie Warzel took a direct hit on America’s historic tradition of personal freedom.  He refers to it as “a child’s two-dimensional view of freedom — one where any suggestion of collective duty and responsibility for others become the chains of tyranny.”  The use of the term “collective duty” is chilling – right out of the Communist Manifesto and Chairman Mao’s “Little Red Book.”

Warzel further writes:

“In this narrow worldview, freedom has a price, in the form of an “acceptable” number of human lives lost. It’s a price that will be calculated and then set by a select few. The rest of us merely pay it.”

Of course, Warzel has it totally ass-backward.  The output of individual freedom provides for the BROADEST world view in which policy is NOT set by a “select few.”  Those are the characteristics of authoritarian elitism.  The author peddles nothing but the progressives’ deceptive snake oil sales pitch.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are those on the left who believe that constitutionally protected freedoms of speech, of assembly and of practicing religion must be nullified.  The pandemic is not really the reason.  It is just the excuse to do what the left does – impose regulatory control over the populace.  They want the government to decide when personal opinion is objectionable.  But objectionable to whom?  The ruling class, of course.

Our inherent freedoms enable offensive and disgusting language.  People can speak in error.  People can express opposition to government policies.  That certainly makes the commons a cauldron of controversy – but that is the point.  The alternative is oppression – a far worse socio-political option.

There is a critical and existential difference between responsible limitations to personal freedom – such as laws against slander, libel, inciting a riot or – as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted – crying fire in a crowded theater.

As a conservative in the tradition of our Founders, I am much more interested in resisting restrictions on personal freedom than expanding them under the increasingly oppressive rule of a powerful federal government.

At least the left has come out of hiding – readily admitting that they operate through a freedom-avoidance metric.  That does not make their philosophy any less dangerous, however.

So. There ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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