Posted by Brother Bob on 9 March, 2012 at 2:00 pm. 10 comments already!


Leftists and conservatives will all argue that they support the freedom to live their lives as they choose. Like anything else in life, the devil is in the details and when you probe further you find a fundamental difference in what is defined as freedom. In a recent blog post discussing the difference between the Tea Party movement versus Occupy Wall Street, Flopping Aces’ guest writer johngalt gave an excellent summary:

“I believe that the two differing groups have vastly different ideas on how freedom and liberty are achieved, and, in essence, who has the responsibility for making a person’s freedom and liberty a reality.”

(Addressing the demands of the OWS) “These “demands” all have one thing in common. That is, the removal of responsibility to individuals over their own lives. Even the requests for spending money on “ecological restoration” removes their own responsibility over the environment they can affect, dumping it on someone else. To put it quite simply, in order to attain what the OWS movement sees as freedom and liberty, their demands only “liberate” themselves from personal responsibility.”

And after summing up core Tea Party principles – “The TEA party groups universally espouse Personal Responsibility over one’s own life. Which means, that when a TEA party member starts to talk about freedom and liberty, they are not talking about imposing upon another person to provide for that freedom and liberty, but rather, that each person take their own responsibility over their lives.

That sums up the philosophies nicely, and I can break it down into even simpler terms. If an act involves the freedom to insert something into your body or somebody else’s for pleasure, the leftist will choose the option that offers greater freedom. Freedoms that entail responsibility for one’s actions will fall onto the side of the conservative.

There is one exception I can see to this that does not fall squarely into either camp, and I want to briefly examine it before we go any further. I am, of course, talking about gay marriage. On the surface, this looks like a no brainer that conservatives seek to restrict the freedom of consenting adults. When you dig deeper though, there is more to it. A good portion of conservatives (including your author) actually favor civil unions (43% conservative GOP, 59% Mod/Lib GOP, 54% Cons/Mod Dems). It is ridiculous that two consenting adults who love each other shouldn’t be able to enjoy all of the legal benefits that their hetero counterparts do simply because their brains are wired to be attracted to the same gender. Where the line gets drawn is with marriage because marriage itself has a deep meaning within their religion. If you think that sex is no different than race look no further than my analogy regarding gays in the military. The other issue that conservatives have is that it also leads to the state using it to impose its will on its citizens. It’s not homophobic to think that Kindergarten is too young to start teaching children about sex or that forcing the church out of the adoption business is a good idea. This topic warrants its own post, but I needed to discuss it before going any further.

Back to the original point, what are the topics where the leftists will favor greater personal freedom over the right? Simply put, any involving sex, drugs, or alcohol. This is not to say that granting such individual freedoms would be a bad thing. Reforming our drug laws will get quite a few people out of prison and reduce a slew of law enforcement costs, not to mention allowing society to focus treatment on addicts rather than punishment. Are there negative sides to this? Absolutely. The same with sex – there is no reason why the government should interfere in personal relationships provided they do not cause harm to others. Unfortunately, the left never knows when to stop, and suddenly it is a right to have someone else pay for your contraceptives, morning after abortifacients and sterilization services. What the left fails to realize is that having access to something does not constitute the right to have it paid for by someone else. Again, conservatives will for the most part support a woman’s right to access to these services, but draw the line when suddenly the First Amendment to the Constitution is trumped by your need for pleasure. And there are also legitimate medical reasons for these services – some women take the pill to help fight conditions they may have or may need a hysterectomy, and few conservatives will oppose these. They just don’t want to be forced to pay for your weekend romp.

Now look at the other side, and where conservatives desire freedom. Theirs are the ones that our president laments as “negative freedoms:”

  • Freedom to defend yourself and your family
  • Freedom to not have the state impose on your religious beliefs
  • Freedom to choose where your children go to school
  • Freedom to decide how your retirement is funded
  • Freedom to make the choices over your personal health care

In each one of these the conservative seeks freedom from the state to make choices over the major decisions over their lives, where those of the left focus on their pursuit of pleasure. One wants the freedom to live and grow and take responsibility for one’s life, where the other only looks at short term happiness. Also ironic that for all that leftists claim to love freedom, in each of the bullet points above the leftist happily surrenders his freedom to the state in return for absolution from responsibility for his actions. The conservative freedoms also come with great responsibility, and they not only willingly accept them, but vehemently fight for the freedom to fail.

The leftists can argue that each of those negative freedoms cuts both ways:

  • Gun control will protect you and your family from gun-wielding criminals
  • The church has no business being granted any kind of exemption from laws of the land that the rest of the citizens live under.
  • What is to stop people from using vouchers to send their children to poorly run schools, or to use the extreme example, a school whose teachings are based on White Supremacy?
  • What happens to the person who put their entire 401(k) into Enron stock?
  • What recourse does a citizen have against an insurance company that rejects their expensive health care claim or they exceed their cap and are forced into bankruptcy over a medical condition?

These are valid questions, and any one of them is worthy of its own post debating the various arguments. But back to my main point, in each of the leftist arguments you are entrusting the state to make the best decision over your life in dealing with these issues. Each one of these issues can be answered with individual freedom and free markets. At the end of the day, it comes down to one simple question: Who do you most trust to make the most important decisions over your life – you, or the state? I know where I stand – where do you?

Crossposted from Brother Bobs Blog

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