by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… [W]hat is freedom, anyway? Our debates aren’t worth a dime without knowing what we’re seeking to protect and nourish in our politics.
Brad Thor, the bestselling novelist, most recently of Code of Conduct, tells me: “Freedom is the ability to make the choices that I believe are best for myself and my family without the coercion of the State. It is being able to stand for what I believe in without dreading a knock upon my door in the middle of the night. It is participating in the public square, along with its many competing voices, and competing in the intellectual combat of rigorous debate without fear of reprisal — especially when my speech seeks to limit or turn back the growth of government and shine a light on the encroaching darkness of tyranny. It is, in short, my control of my life, my fortune, and my destiny.”
“In everything we do, a choice is involved,” says Sheila Liaugminas, the host of A Closer Look, a radio show on Relevant Radio, and the author of Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture. She explains: “Riding my bike down the driveway as a young girl on a summer day, I wondered whether to turn left or right to journey out on a freewheeling adventure around the neighborhood, thinking about how either choice would have its own consequences and uniquely determine my experience, while eliminating those possibilities in the other direction.” She cites Chesterton explaining that “simply choosing one thing excludes all others. And Moses said in Deuteronomy he set before the people two possibilities, then urged them to choose wisely. Freedom is choosing wisely, always, the better way.”
George Nash, the author of The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945, points us to Herbert Hoover on his 74th birthday in 1948: “The meaning of our word ‘America’ flows from one pure source. Within the soul of America is the freedom of mind and spirit in man. Here alone are the open windows through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit. Here alone is human dignity not a dream, but an accomplishment.”
Hoover continued: “At the time our ancestors were proclaiming that the Creator had endowed all mankind with rights of freedom as the children of God, with a free will, there was being proclaimed by Hegel, and later by Karl Marx, a satanic philosophy of agnosticism and that the rights of man came from the State. The greatness of America today comes from one philosophy, the despair of Europe from the other.”