Let Freedom Ring

Thomas Frank wrote an interesting opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, usually a bastion of conservative thought. His thesis is that the left needs to reclaim the word “freedom”. Somehow the idea of freedom, originally conceived as freedom by the government, has now been cast by conservatives as freedom from the government.

Watching and listening to the right-wing fringe it does seem as if there is almost a pining for anarchy. That their ideal solution would be the complete removal of government. In a sense, I suppose that would be freedom, for a time. At least it would be until human nature took over and some small group began to oppress the masses through force. Then the oppressors have all the freedom, and the people none. Ironically, exactly what they fear will happen if Obama is left to run amok.

Freedom is about balance. Balancing the needs of the many with the needs of the few. And the government’s role is as the arbiter of that balance point. To argue they have no business adjusting the scale is to completely misunderstand the mechanisms employed to achieve the freedom we all hold so dear.

To value freedom is not a virtue of the left or the right, of conservatives or liberals. This still leaves a lot of room for us to disagree about how the needs of the few/many get balanced. That is the nature of democracy. The balance tips this way and that. But to suggest that the other side is against freedom is disingenuous, simplistic, and just wrong.

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