by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
It was one not to miss. Locke’s recent virtual Shaftesbury Society forum exploring the future of conservatism was filled with thought-provoking perspective, as well as a call to action for the Freedom Movement to unite around one mission: defeating the progressive Left and their destructive, divisive policies that limit our potential and tie so much of our lives to government.
Drawing on her experience fighting the Left’s machine in Colorado, Locke CEO Amy Cooke sees lessons for North Carolinians who love freedom. She posed this critical question: What are you willing to do to defeat the Left?
We know North Carolina has been a presidential battleground for several elections. But we’re more than that in 2021. In short, the Left wants North Carolina to be the next Colorado. Defenders of freedom can either fight among ourselves and focus on our differences, or we can acknowledge that the future of freedom and free markets depends on unity. National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, who joined Amy for the Shaftesbury Society forum, put it this way:
First, unify. It’s critical.
Second, we must understand how today’s Left thinks. We know the Left’s views on issues, but what is their unifying belief and rallying cry? Traditionally I’ve seen the divide between conservatives and progressives as our support for equal opportunity versus their support for equality of outcome. But things are changing. Amy sees the divide – and the challenge – in what she calls the Left’s new social construct.
As she explains, today’s Left is all about the oppressed vs. the oppressors.
Amy’s right when she says the biggest oppressor is government. It manifests itself in many ways. Listen to North Carolina business owners’ accounts of how Gov. Cooper’s shutdown restrictions prevented them from earning a living. It’s why the Locke Foundation fights for few barriers and limited government, while the Left fights for the opposite.
It’s why the Locke Foundation urges lawmakers to rein in the power of the governor to unilaterally control the movements, associations, and ability to earn a living of more than 10 million people. It doesn’t matter who the governor is; no one person should have this kind of government power.
Why is economic freedom my rallying cry? Because economic freedom is the fundamental building block for self-reliance, personal prosperity, and wealth-building for future generations. As someone who grew up poor, raised by a mom and dad who supported their family through manual labor, I know firsthand the transformative power of a job. I was able to hold my head high among kids who were much better off financially because of my pride in my dad’s job. He taught me grit and work ethic. Together, they taught me to dream of something better. By the time I was in my 30s, it was my mom and dad who were proud of me, mirroring how I felt about them as a child.
We each have a story and a reason we’re part of the Freedom Movement. My experience as a child is mine. What is your reason? Based on what’s ahead, this is a good time for each of us to remind ourselves of why we fight and what’s at stake. That’s what our Shaftesbury Society forum was all about.