During the recently aired democratic debates on CNN, one constant remains the same among liberal talking points: we need more government control. Universal healthcare provided (and controlled) by the government. A restriction on firearms and citizens’ ability to protect themselves. More regulations on businesses. More limitations on speech, protecting minority groups from the “violence” of hate speech. As the progressives run farther to the left, their policies continue to offer more and more powers to the government, and many fewer freedoms for the individual.
One argument of the left is that America is not in any way a great country. We are much less significant than in many European countries. The left even wants to use Canada and its more progressive policies as a template for change. These views are reflected in a clip from the television show Newsroom that has gone viral in the last few years. In the clip, Jeff Daniel’s character goes on a tirade explaining why America is not the greatest country in the world. Among his many reasonings, some of which are factually incorrect, Daniel’s character claims that America is not the only free country in the world. He then lists Belgium, France, Germany, Canada, the UK as equally free. Topping off his point by saying almost a third of the world’s countries have freedom.
This is the progressive view. We are not uniquely free. More than that, they believe capitalism and free markets bind us. What would set us free is the mighty hand of the government, wiping away all of our personal ills and improving the lives of the less fortunate.
There are a few problems with this narrative, the first of which being that America is, in fact, the freest country in the world. You can measure this freedom in many different ways. The rest of the world doesn’t come close.
In terms of religious freedom, America is unique. More progressive countries such as Canada have resorted to banning pastors from speaking about the gospel. In one recent example, Christian pastor David Lynn was charged with disturbing the peace for preaching on a street corner. All of this happened because Lynn’s message was considered “derogatory” towards the LGBT community, even though he didn’t even directly address said community whatsoever. Activists were waiting for his arrival so that they could call it in. It didn’t matter that Lynn’s message was calm and collected, anything having to do with Christianity is considered inherently hateful.
Lynn wasn’t the first pastor to be reprimanded in Canada for his religious views, and he won’t be the last. This lack of religious freedom (which is also a problem in European countries like the UK) stems from another freedom that is under attack: freedom of speech. Despite some progressive activists’ best efforts, the United States still has freedom of speech. In many of these other countries, however, that is no longer the case. In many of these more left-leaning countries, there are laws in place to protect against “hate speech.”
These hate speech laws set a terrible standard, giving an abundance of power to the state. The real problem with hate speech is that its definition is malleable. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia are all listed as examples of hate speech, but the government then gets to describe what type of speech lands within those categories.
Saying that men are men and women are women would be considered transphobic and could result in a fine or jail time. More specifically, in Canada, if you refuse to use a person’s chosen personal pronouns (either of the opposite sex or a newly invented pronoun such as ze/zir) could result in a fine or arrest. Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson was made famous for protesting these laws and their nebulas nature. Pointing out that these ideas are Maoist in nature, designed to be used to lock up your political enemies for “thought crimes.”
In addition to religious freedom and freedom of speech, Americans also have the unique benefit of the right to bear arms. Through manipulation of data, such as comparing gross gun deaths instead of per capita, many liberals assert that our freedom to bear arms is a detriment to society. It is, in fact, freedom to protect yourself. In countries where guns are illegal, it turns out that the criminals still have some. This is because a criminal, by definition, breaks the law.
Another overlooked freedom we continue to enjoy is the freedom of the press. Other nations either have state-controlled news or speech laws so strict that reporters and news organizations are working with one arm tied behind their back.
One of the more contentious freedoms we have, which was under attack during the recent CNN debates, was the freedom to choose your own healthcare. Universal health care programs give government power over your health. They determine your treatment options for you, how much healthcare you get and ultimately decide who lives or dies. This fact was shown rather evidentially in the case of UK citizen Alfie Evans. Evan’s parents wished to use every possible experimental option to save their child’s life. Not only did the government refuse, but they also kept the parents from taking Alfie to another country for treatment. They placed guards outside his hospital room to keep him sequestered until his death.
The last and one of the more uniquely significant freedoms Americans enjoy is the freedom of American capitalism. The United States is the country of the entrepreneur; we are one of the top-ranking countries in terms of innovation and manufacturing. This is the place to be if you want to start a business. Our markets are free, and the labor you produce belongs to you more than it would anywhere else.
All the frontrunners of the democratic party want to take those liberties away. Private healthcare, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and the ability to start a small business without being strangled by regulations are all going away. It’s time we acknowledge how great this country is, and how free we truly are.