The Freedom Dilemma

In the United States, we are facing what many have called the most critical election in recent history. I tend to agree with that to a certain point. I also believe the Bush-Gore election in 2000 was absolutely enormous in terms of the Republican (conservative) momentum that continued throughout the nation. Had Gore won, we would probably not have had a Second Great Depression (as I’m inclined to call it) or Great Recession, whichever you prefer. Had Gore won, we would not have gone to Iraq or Afghanistan. We likely would have continued with Clinton’s economic plan, which would hopefully have allowed us to maintain surpluses throughout his hypothetical presidency. Moreover, I would like to believe that a Gore presidency would have spurred real growth in alternate energy sources and electric cars and so forth. Climate change would be a major campaign issue. Doesn’t that sound nice?

The election of 2012 poses an important question to Americans. The Romney ticket is one of nihilistic self-righteous independence. A vote for Romney is not a vote for returning to the past, like Obama has claimed. A vote for Romney is a vote for a miniature dystopia. The society that Paul Ryan and other rugged individualists propose is backed on the cynical personality that he and Romney both possess. I mean this in a very serious way. We joke on the left about how many different incarnations of Mitt Romney we’ve seen over the campaign, but this is a very serious issue. The idea that a candidate can win on sheer nihilistic negativity (attacking Obama, no core foundational beliefs, lacking real substance) is something I find very frightening, and yet totally unsurprising. Our issues in politics here in the US today are legion, but one of the most egregious problems is our fact problem. Facts are tools for us, not guides as they should be. All politicians use facts to their advantage and to their opponent’s disadvantage. However, to my knowledge, no candidate has led such a cynical campaign as has Willard Mitt Romney. The very notion that he can win by saying “no” to working together, by saying “no” to progress, by saying “no” to facts, by saying “no” to love is something we need to acknowledge.

Is this really the face of half of today’s electorate? “No” is all they know how to say now? I refuse to believe that.

Freedom is a delicate concept. To invoke it colloquially is to completely deny all the Framers believed. They were Enlightenment guys. They were intelligent. Freedom was not some word they toss around like everyday people. Freedom is important. Freedom is not the ability to say “no” to love, to working together as a people, to improve our collective lot, to make exorbitant profits while the nation burns. Freedom is fundamentally the ability for a person to be free to live their life, to be unafraid for the sake of their family, the ability to feel secure financially and physically, to progress and make all our children’s lives better than ours were. Isn’t that a goal nearly all Americans have had since the beginning?

It’s time to end our subservience to nihilism. We’ve seen where it gets us. When we pretend that progress is pointless, that it is unattainable, or that the best way to advance the nation is to ignore the very people who are all around us, we all lose. It’s time to advocate real freedom and to promote a society that is safe for everyone. No one’s life should be left up to the roll of the die, the whim of a corporation or politician, or the direction of the breeze. We’re all in this together, and it’s about time we recognize that, pick ourselves up, and start fixing some problems.

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The Freedom Dilemma

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