By John F. Di Leo -
When faced with a choice between different politicians at election time, our natural instinct is to ask “Which one will let me do what I want to do?”
It’s natural. Sure, it may seem selfish, single-minded, narrow. But it’s natural.
We have only one vote, so we think of our own lives, and the possible ways that the candidates might want to control our lives, and we think about what we personally like to do, and so we study the candidates to see which ones seem most open-minded about “allowing” us our freedom, vs. which ones want to take it away...
We have good reason to fear, with government growing by leaps and bounds over the past century… doubling the national debt in just the past eight years… watching ranchers arrested… journalists indicted… and ninety million jobless people living “outside the workforce” because of an economy that has been squashed or driven abroad by a malevolent Leviathan. The Bill of Rights has been under assault in the past eight years like never before in American history.
Oh yes, it makes sense to fear government encroachments on our personal freedoms.
There is, however, another set of freedoms that we ought be equally concerned about:
Other people’s freedom.
I know, that doesn’t sound different, does it? Don’t we all have, and fear losing, the very same freedoms?
Well, oddly enough, we don’t.
There are some rights, privileges and freedoms (yes, let’s treat these together, for the subject at hand) that may not mean a great deal to us personally, one way or the other, if someone else has them, but other rights, privileges and freedoms that do.
And these – the rights, privileges and freedoms of other people – must be among the primary concerns we address when selecting a candidate.
We can begin with the most famous one. From the very foundation of the United States, the issue of slavery tore us apart. Our greatest Founding Fathers were abolitionists (or manumissionists, as they were more likely to say back then) – Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Laurens, Gouverneur Morris – who worked hard throughout their public lives to end the practice.
In 1787, the Framers built rules into the Constitution – such as the oft-misunderstood “Three-Fifths Rule” – that were designed to reduce the slaveholding south’s power in the federal government and, hopefully, set slavery on a natural path toward termination.
Philosophically, the Founders of a free nation could not consider themselves true to their libertarian souls as long as the enslavement of innocent fellow human beings was allowed. The position of candidates on the slavery issue was to become the primary foundation of our two-party system throughout our nation’s first century.
Today, we have a different kind of enslavement – subtler, far less blatant, but enslavement nonetheless. The entrapment of an underclass in the Welfare State – through food stamps, public housing, and a myriad of different government-dependency programs – has set a ceiling in place on the people trapped in that underclass, little different from the ceilings placed on the advancement of southern blacks before the Civil War.
The American Dream is – or was intended to be! – that there is no ceiling on what an individual can accomplish, apart from his own ability and work ethic.
Think and work, strive toward a goal, and you can rise from poverty to the middle class… add great ability, great luck, or both to that equation, and you can rise to great wealth indeed.
But the Welfare State puts a ceiling on everyone trapped in it. You can’t rise in a career if you never start one… and the Welfare State traps millions and millions of people – of all colors, by the way; it’s not prejudiced – by holding onto them with checks and WIC cards that hold, for many, just as tight a grip as the heavy iron chains of old.
So first, we must ask, Where does a candidate stand on the Welfare State?
Whether you are yourself trapped in it or not, it does matter to you whether your candidate supports the enslavement of a population through intoxicating government largesse, or if your candidate opposes such destruction of cultures and people with every fiber of his being.
In short, does your candidate stand for the American Ceiling, or the American Dream?
Are you an entrepreneur?
You may not be. Most of us aren’t. Most of us work for someone else, whether at a large firm or a small one, a little office or a huge multi-site international conglomerate. And that’s fine. In a free economy as large as this one, there should – theoretically – be a job and a career for everybody… in fact, in a robust economy, there should be an array of jobs, and an array of careers.
But even if you aren’t inclined to start a business yourself, it matters to you how much freedom someone else has to start and grow a business, doesn’t it?
So we must ask, “Where does each candidate stand on business issues?” even if we are not businessmen.
After all, how would you – or your spouse or child or parent or friend – get a job, if the job is never created in the first place, because the entrepreneur who would have created it is dissuaded by barriers to entry that are placed in his way by a Leviathan state?
Our nation was founded by businessmen – farmers and merchants, ship-owners and manufacturers, shopkeepers and bankers, publishers and innkeepers. Our Founders had chafed under the limitations that King George III and his pawns in Parliament had placed upon their economic activities, from oppressive taxes to red tape to forced management by London factors to outright bans, and the Founders designed an economic system that would facilitate commerce, not frustrate it.
This isn’t just a matter for the owner of the business. It matters to everyone that business employs, from clerk and janitor to middle-management, from stockholders to the boardroom. If a business isn’t there, then all those jobs, bonuses, and dividends are gone.
And talk about career advancement… every step upon the ladder of a career is dependent upon the steps before. You may be hired to be CEO of one company because of your tenure as sales VP or Supply VP of where you worked before, and you gained that job because of your success as marketing manager or purchasing director at the job before that. Lose one of those opportunities along your path, and you might never have been able to move up.
Our nation needs every business, every job, every career… not just the one we’re working at today.
Much has been said of the “lost nation of the abortion industry.” In the 42 years since a destructive Supreme Court majority illegally “legalized” abortion in this country, some 55 million children have been aborted. What would this world be like if we had allowed those 55 million American children to have their chance at life? More students, more adults, more neighbors, more friends, more families, more entrepreneurs, more inventions, more cures… When government steps in to terminate a birth, it is indeed the most destructive thing that any tyranny can do.
And this same lesson applies – not so horrifyingly, but still, in the same way, mathematically, geometrically – to any other valuable human activity that the short-sightedness or malice of government may choose to stamp out.
When government sets tax rates too high, when rogue federal agents implement crippling regulations, when an out-of-control judiciary empowers class action lawsuits and thuggish unions to overwhelm the business community, these policies have a similar effect. They drive many businesses out of business entirely, and others, they discourage from ever starting up.
People have always had business ideas at the home workbench, while working in the yard, while talking at the kitchen. But in the past, they acted on these ideas; today, the ideas are more likely to get no further than an idea over coffee.
There is a reason why business start-ups are down. There is a reason why mergers result in conglomerates moving to new foreign headquarters, more often than not (they call it “corporate inversion”… it’s actually just “fleeing from a fleecing”).
There is a reason why the go-getter you knew as a youth never started that business, or started and then gave up, and settled into a corporate job instead. The Leviathan state discourages the entrepreneurship that America so desperately needs.
So you don’t have to be entrepreneurial yourself to see how much it matters that others be free to start businesses in this country. It may be a freedom you never indulge in yourself, but if your neighbor can’t, then you too will suffer.
Where does your candidate stand on business growth? Does he stand for oppressive regulations that keep people out, so you need to bribe the regulators or hire big name attorneys to gain access/ Does he stand for costly licensing, union-friendly work rules, massive corporate taxes so the entrepreneur is beaten before he begins?
Does your candidate stand for tying the hands of the entrepreneur, or finally chopping off the hands of the Leviathan that threatens him?
We could say the same of so many specific issues:
We may never invest in oil wells or work as roughnecks on an oil rig ourselves, to enjoy the benefits of the full utilization of our nation’s natural resources… and we all suffer from high energy prices, vast unemployment, and dependence on the middle east when the government restricts such activity.
We may not be particularly devout ourselves, but we benefit from a nation that remembers its Judeo-Christian traditions and protects their practice… and we all suffer from the dangers of sloth, robbery, rape and terrorism when the nation undermines those traditions, encourages a Welfare State, and welcomes the immigration of islamofascist terrorists.
We may never own or concealed-carry a handgun ourselves, but we benefit from living in a neighborhood, or shopping at a mall, or attending a theater, where potential muggers, rapists or mass killers fear that some of their potential marks might shoot back… and we all suffer from counterproductive restrictions on these rights, telegraphing to the muggers, rapists and mass killers that they need not fear armed defense by their victims.
There are indeed hundreds of such specific issues we could name if needed. Every precious freedom – in commerce, education, agriculture, society in general – has an effect on not only the practitioner but everyone else as well.
As we go to the polls this primary season… and in particular, as we go to the polls in November… let us remember that the candidate who respects the freedoms that our Founding Fathers secured for our neighbors is looking out for us too, whether we personally choose to start a church, carry a gun, open a shop, or read a book ourselves…
… and that the candidate who places a ceiling on our neighbor’s proper liberty restricts our liberty as well.
Copyright 2016 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based international trade compliance professional, writer, and actor. A former County Chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has now been a recovering politician for over 18 years (but, like any addiction, you’re never fully cured).
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