Let Freedom Ring
Corey Uhden, Politics Contributor
As the whole nation tunes into the all too familiar battles in Washington D.C., it is easy to be consumed in the coverage of internecine political warfare. However, America is not just our government, and our lives mustn’t be consumed by anxiety and investment in the pitched partisan brawls of the day. To that end, conservatives ought to begin an urgent mission to renew individual freedom.
While solidarity appeals to our human need to belong to part of a group, individualism allows us to become the heroic citizens required of a republic. The American colonies were founded by pilgrims, people seeking the freedom to believe and preach contrary to the popular credence of their time. The First Amendment enshrines the freedom of religion to this very purpose, considered at the time a redundancy for the first and most important right we have: the freedom of speech. It is that freedom that makes every one of us our own minority community. We can speak our minds and no one else’s. That seems obvious to us, but in the modern world of identity politics and trigger warnings, it seems we have forgotten how precious this right is. Yet, it is the essence of democracy, of debate and dialogue. The right of freedom of speech is not just how we assert our individual point of view, but why.
The government is to see us as individuals. In the debates on Capitol Hill, the numbers often come in the form of millions, billions, and trillions. Even people. “20 million people will lose their health insurance plans!” Percentages confuse matters further. “57% of children can’t read at grade level!” Americans should recognize this for what it is: a perverse, big government approach that supplants the individual for the collective in order to impose its power on everyone. It is the bureaucratization of the republic in form and intent, turning each individual into just another cog to be mechanically led through life. Spend some time watching the debate and it’s obvious there is no problem that Washington technocrats think they can’t address with a new rule here or a new tax credit there.
The discussion inevitably turns into the fight between something the government can offer and the consequences of taking it away. Policy improvements and individual perils should be discussed, but missed in these debates is a question about the role of government as prescribed by the Constitution.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act is not only about taking something away, but creating something better, something uniquely American. Empowering Americans by letting them keep more of their money to purchase health insurance plans from across the whole country would be a step toward more freedom in our daily lives. Empowering states to regulate health insurers as they have done for over 100 years would be a grant of power back to the government closest to the people and easiest to hold accountable. That is the ultimate goal of the Republicans’ healthcare do-over and it is a mission conservatives must embrace.
While these steps are a means to universal coverage, they are also an ends unto themselves - the realization of more freedom for American citizens. Instead of treating every household the same, every income level equally, every state and local market as something subject to mandates, our goal should be to unleash citizens to pursue their best interests in maximum freedom.
The Constitution limits the government in order to maximize individual potential. There are many more examples in which the size and scope of the government matters less than the role government plays. It should be obvious to every citizen enjoying the fruits of entrepreneurship - that smartphone in our pockets, the tablet we read from, even the electricity used to charge them - that freedom works. Freedom empowers us all to lead our lives - to imagine, invent, innovate, and create.
It’s called the Declaration of Independence for a reason. Yes, the colonists were declaring their independence from a tyrannical king, but more importantly, American independence marked a departure from the very idea that the pursuit of purpose shall be ordained and overseen by a distant government that could demand conformity of its subjects. The time has come for us to inspire current and future generations to declare our independence, our freedom, from bureaucratic mandates and politicians that think Washington knows best. We have managed to take our government back; now it’s time to take back our lives!
You can follow the author on Twitter @CACoreyU