The United States is often held up as a paragon for freedom. The place where democracy and liberty thrive. It may come as a shock to U.S. citizens then to learn that their country lags behind most other developed countries – including “socialist” countries – in the liberties and freedoms it provides its citizens. And this insight doesn’t come from liberal media outlets, but conservative think tanks.
The conservative case against the U.S.
The 2018 Human Freedom Index by Right-leaning Cato Institute rates the U.S. at No. 17 on personal, civil, and economic freedom. Yet their Top 10 is filled with countries that have universal healthcare, universal education, higher taxes, higher minimum wages, and common-sense regulation (guns, environment, etc.). Similarly, conservative think tank Heritage Foundation lists the U.S. at No. 12 in their Index of Economic Freedom, with nearly every country preceding it having similar “liberal” policies.
Meanwhile, the 2018 Freedom In The World report by right-leaning watchdog organization Freedom House notes that democracy in the U.S. has been eroding for years, but that “the past year brought further, faster erosion of America’s own democratic standards than at any other time in memory, damaging its international credibility as a champion of good governance and human rights” due mostly to Trump’s presidency.
What does this mean?
The main takeaway here is that it is possible to balance liberties and freedoms with taxation and regulation. In fact, there is a strong case to be made that programs like universal healthcare and universal education actually increase freedom. As noted earlier, this is commonplace in most of the developed world – but the U.S. is failing in this regard. Our country already spends more per capita than most others on education and healthcare – but has little to show for it. Done right, expanded social programs could actually save us money and increase our freedom.
The second takeaway is that Republican politicians are not the protectors of freedom and liberty. They have committed just as egregious acts as Democrats – if not more so. It is imperative that we place country above party in politics and don’t succumb to cults of personality. We must continue to hold everyone in all branches of government to the fire to keep them from further deteriorating our rights and the checks and balances of our government.