by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In a brief analysis of President Obama’s second inaugural address, an unsigned National Review article offers a nice synopsis of the different views of liberty that tend to animate partisans on opposite sides of today’s political debates.
More important than these policy details was the framework of his speech, which sought to advance the century-old progressive project of conflating liberty with positive liberty. The first is freedom from force, oppression, and corruption; the second is fulfillment through common action. The first is God-granted; the second is orchestrated by the state. Obama equated the struggle for emancipation with building railroads and highways, regulating the economy (“rules to ensure competition and fair play”), and maintaining the safety net. He seemed never to have heard of the entitlement bulge that threatens our solvency. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, he said, “strengthen us.” No prospect for reform there, unless events drag him into it.
Speaking of both reform and liberty, you’ll find plenty of examples of the former that promote the latter in the John Locke Foundation’s new book, First In Freedom: Transforming Ideas Into Consequences for North Carolina.