Column on Americans Not Champions of Freedom

Americans Don’t Much Care About Freedom

Tibor R. Machan

Ever since I have been an American citizen–starting 1961–I have noticed
that after elections losers often blame winners for distortions,
misrepresentations, and so forth. Few of the losers say, “Well, I lost
because the voters didn’t agree with me.” This become most evident for me
during the elections when one ballot measure aiming to sock it to oil
companies in California lost. Supporters of the measure, led, I think, by
a very busy and prominent leftist political activist, Bill Press, insisted
that their measure lost because the voters were deceived, lied to, and so
forth, not because voters didn’t buy their pitch.

I contrast, my own take is that the reason candidates and measures
favoring individual liberty–in short, the libertarian agenda–lose is
precisely that most voters don’t agree with them. The very plain fact is
that too many voters don’t want to be free. Over and over again they
reject candidates who champion free markets, civil liberties, global free
trade, and similar ideas and institutions. Instead, they favor
protectionism, government regulation, meddling in people’s personal lives
and habits, and restricting freedom so as to achieve the mirage of perfect
safety–be this about over the counter drugs, the threat of terrorism, or
environmental concerns. They want to restrict other people’s liberty and
rip them off for various benefits. It’s a mad dash to raid the treasury
at others’ expense and to control people’s lives so as to serve various
precautionary goals.

Sadly, that’s now the character of the bulk of the American
citizenry. They are not being mislead by the media or pundits or
politicians. No. They want to get a free ride wherever they see a chance,
never mind that this simply is impossible for them all to achieve. The
notion that America is a country where the citizenry, following the lead
of the Founders, is committed to freedom for all, to a live and let live
political philosophy is no longer true. The one presidential candidate,
Republican Ron Paul, who made no secret of his support for mostly
libertarian public policies, fared badly on Super Tuesday, despite recent
signs that there exists a small cadre of Americans who will provide him
with considerable financial support.

This current presidential race shows, also, that voters aren’t interested
in the candidate’s color, race, gender so much as in what they can expect
the candidate to deliver to them in the way of benefits that government
extracts from Peter and hands over to Paul. Never mind that this war of
all against all can have but a small percentage of winners. Just like
those who flock to Las Vegas, the voters hope that they will win despite
what the evidence shows. Still, most Americans now vote with an eye to
getting something for nothing by dint of the diligence of their favored

There are some forces in our society who are eager to encourage
people to think this way, to vote this way, but voters aren’t being
misled, defrauded, misguided. They know well and good that they are
trying to rip off their fellow citizens so they can have education, health
care, retirement and so forth without paying for these. Yes, our
government schools do not teach the truth about these matters, mainly
because teachers are part of the very system that involves the mad dash to
get something for which others must pay. But even when they do learn just
how ridiculous it is to expect a prosperous society when so many people
reject productivity in favor of dependence, most continue to try to get
away with it.

Too bad but it has to be faced. Freedom is not widely favored
in America now. There was, of course, never any guarantee that American
would continue to be promoting freedom. Countries, no less than voters,
can give up on good ideas and embrace bad ones even after the good ideas
have paid off for them for decades on end.

Still, I am not a pessimist in the long run. The idea of a fully free
society is very novel in human history. For most of it people have lived
under the oppressive rule of some group of thugs masquerading as their
saviors. Even now there are countries where politicians are frankly and
without irony called “rulers.” (Just consider Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid
al-Maktoum who is called The Ruler of Dubai, for example. And few
Americans seem to take umbrage at this, seeing how readily they do
business in that part of the world!)

As I have stressed before, the insidious governmental habit will not
vanish soon, even if there is a chance that in time it will be
extinguished. Until then we will have to suffer the likes of Hillary
Rodham Clinton who is aspiring to be America’s ruler and sadly with the
support of millions of millions of citizens in this supposed leader of the
free world.

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One Response to Column on Americans Not Champions of Freedom

  1. Truth Teller wi†h Ð @ng€l €¥€§ says:

    This is a very well written post.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    They helped clear up a couple of things for me.

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