Thursday, April 5, 2012

Freedom vs. Equality...again

Victor Davis Hanson argues that our coming election will be useful in its clarity at least.  As he sees it, all the issues boil down to "Freedom or Fairness in 2012?".   He sums it up with this:
These are the ancient arguments that have pitted the liberty of the American Revolution against the egalitarianism of the French, the statist visions of John Maynard Keynes against the individualism of Friedrich Hayek, and the tragic admission that we cannot be truly free if we are all forced to end up roughly equal against the idealism that if we are all roughly equal then we are at last truly free.
In blunter terms, Romney’s message is that, if you have the money to drive a nice Kia, what do you care if a sleek Mercedes whizzes by? Obama’s answer, in contrast, is that you should care, because the guy in the Mercedes probably took something from you. 
The election will hinge upon how many people who can’t now afford a Kia believe that they might be able to under Romney — and upon how many couldn’t care less about the guy in the Mercedes.
Regrettably, most people who even recognize the tension between the pursuit of liberty and the pursuit of equality/"fairness", reduce it, like Hanson does here, to material terms, to differences in economic visions.  While it is that, it is also more, much more than just that.

It is also very much about the formerly privileged position accorded traditional marriage and family versus the equality-inspired radical feminist and militant homosexual rights agenda.  As well as, I must add, everything that touches that debate, to include the repeal of Don't Ask-Don't Tell, for example.  Therefore, it is also about the kind of military we will have.

It is about the kind, not simply the cost, of the health care you will receive.  As we have already witnessed, it is about religious liberty and freedom of conscience when the kind of care you receive at a Catholic hospital, for example, differs from the kind that the state sanctions.

It is about the locus of political authority, nearby or far away, as states currently cannot build roads and individual land owners cannot build homes without first obtaining permission from the federal government and its bureaucracies.

It is also about, maybe even especially about, whether this country is indeed exceptional or simply one of many more or less similar (equal?) governing units currently scattered across the globe.

This fall--and always for heaven's sake--much more is at stake than simply whether or not you keep more of your own money in your pocket.    


  1. I think people have forgotten just how beautiful the word "liberty" is.

  2. Indeed.

    My fear is that the cost of liberty, i.e., individual responsibility, is too high for too many.

    If it is, we're doomed.