|The Theme, Again, is Freedom|
By Quin Hillyer
Thursday, March 01 2012
The United States needs a leader with a freedom agenda, and with the ability to explain it and persuasively promote it.
The agenda would put ordered liberty front and center in American public discourse and, more important, as the guiding theme for all government action. (Or, better yet, inaction, in most cases).
The agenda would start by respecting and protecting conscience protections in federal law. It would insist that conscience protections extend to individuals, not just to specific religious institutions.
Commercial freedom and freedom of thought also must be protected. No individual should be required to engage in commerce. No individual should be required to choose one sort of commercial activity over another. No individual should be required to contribute anything (aside from duly passed taxes) to any cause or any organization. No individual should even be required to contribute taxes – this is a policy choice, not a constitutional or human right -- to a state activity that violates obvious, unambiguous, moral or religious beliefs.
Private property – this is a big one – should be far more fully protected than it is now. It should be free from seizure by the state for other private purposes or enterprises. It should be free from state “takings” by the indirect method of land-value-destroying regulations. It should be free even from overly intrusive zoning. It certainly should be free from judicially created mandates based on tendentious readings of statutes not clearly designed for such mandates. For that matter, intellectual property is every bit as precious as physical property, and merits fierce protection. Somewhat relatedly, it was James Madison who rightly said that “A man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.”
The right of contract, too, should be nearly sacrosanct, free from governmental or private evisceration. (Alas, it was outrageously undermined during the auto bailout process.)
People should be free to choose their own doctors, to choose their own insurance companies, to choose insurance across state lines, to choose their own investments, to choose their own neighborhoods, to choose their own schools. Ah, yes, schools: Choice of all sorts should be encouraged. Charter schools. Magnet schools. Entire school systems where parents aren’t “zoned” for one particular school if they prefer another school within the system. Vouchers for private or parochial schools. Choice, choice, choice, combined with parental prerogatives.
Furthermore, local schools should be largely free from national-government interference. In schools, as in every other aspect of life in which it makes any sort of sense, the principle of subsidiarity ought to be applied. That way, citizens will be more free from centralized, bureaucratized, politicized control.
Citizens certainly and especially should be free from abusive police action, or abusive prosecutions. If we aren’t even free in our very persons from arbitrary compulsion at the point of a gun, then freedom means almost nothing at all.
We Americans always have been a free people. For more than four centuries, since the settlement of Jamestown, we have treasured our freedom, struggled for freedom, fiercely insisted upon and protected our freedom, and fought and even died for our freedom. Our entire identity is entwined with and inseparable from our freedom.
Or, at least, so it always has been.
Yet sometimes we don’t recognize when freedom is eroded by small degrees rather than direct, frontal assault. We might miss evidence of tyranny if it creeps in on little cats’ feet. We are less vigilant when otherwise unacceptable compulsion is disguised by soothing talk of “benefits,” “efficiency,” or “practicality,” or (especially) the language of altruism.
A capable national leader will be able to identify erosions of, and attacks on, freedom; he (or she) will be able to highlight them vividly, describe in stark terms the practical and even spiritual threats they contain; and outline solutions for them and for the ills they purport to be solving. And he will rally the good people of these United States against these assaults.
A freedom agenda isn’t necessary merely as a campaign tactic. It’s a necessary fight for our civic souls. Done right, it will win our hearts, win the culture and win the day.
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