Opinion By Rick Manning
An Iranian marathoner raises the American flag above his head as he crosses the finish line putting his life at risk. Whether this individual act of defiance was over the exclusion of American runners from the event or is just some Photoshop tomfoolery or is something broader is immaterial, this photo captured a sentiment that remains true for those who long for freedom — that America is the land of their hopes and dreams.
Living in the greatest experiment in individual freedom that the world has ever known and dealing with the day to day fights over maintaining our freedoms, it is sometimes difficult to remember that many in the rest of the world see us as we can be — a shining city on the hill. A place where aspirations can be achieved based upon the sweat on one’s brow and the ingenuity to create a better mouse trap, because people are allowed and encouraged to succeed. A place where expressing a point of view doesn’t risk your life.
People around the world look to America as a beacon of political and economic freedom. Yet, here in the United States, the U.S. Department of Justice and a gaggle of Democrat state Attorney Generals are seeking to sue those who disagree with them on global warming to squelch dissent. Every Senate Democrat in 2014 voted against the wording of the First Amendment in an attempt to regulate political speech, and the Democrat members of the Federal Election Commission sought to shut down sites like the DrudgeReport around election day only to be rebuffed by the GOP members.
The very political freedom that has been the hallmark of the United States is under a vigorous attack by the left in an astonishing swing for a group that has argued that the federal government should spend tax dollars to support art that amounted to putting a crucifix in a vial of urine under a First Amendment claim. The same people who define not wanting to spend taxpayer money on government funded “art” as anti-First Amendment, want to prosecute those who engage in a legitimate political discussion over government contractor scientists’ outrageous climate claims and the proposed remedies which would have a devastating impact on our economy.
And Democrats are voting in droves to name someone their presidential nominee who has been a socialist candidate for his entire political career. Apparently, these lunatics have not been paying attention to what happened to the people in Venezuela when the majority elected a socialist government.
The once prosperous Venezuela democratically embraced government control over their economy as the poor voted in a government that promised to redistribute their neighbor’s wealth. Today, those who had less, have even less, as grocery store shelves are empty and people stand in food lines, but they can take comfort in knowing that their neighbors are now in those food lines with them.
The International Monetary Fund reports that Venezuela’s economy is estimated to have shrunk by ten percent in 2015 with another eight percent drop forecast for 2016. At the same time as the economy has collapsed, the inflation rate is expected to hit 720 percent this year. As a comparison, the U.S. inflation rate was 0.7 percent in 2015.
Needless to say, the once desirable Caracas is no longer a destination for voluntary emigration. Instead, it reeks of desperation due to its failed experimentation with government control over the economy.
While the failure of Venezuela is a cautionary tale, this article stands as a reminder that too much of the world, the United States looks like the land of milk and honey, and many wish to come here for the right reasons. They look at our nation as a place where they can live free from government oppression. Even more importantly, there are those who seek to emulate creating the freedom that the American flag embodies in their own lands.
Yet, here at home, we have Black Lives Matters professional protesters regularly stomping on that very American flag that the Iranian runner risked his life to lift over his head. We have students so afraid to offend that they seek to eliminate dissenting speech which threatens the false constructs that their professors have assured them are true. We have small business people compelled to bake cakes and make floral arrangements to celebrate homosexual wedding ceremonies under state government edicts. And we have Bernie Sanders running around the country promising everything from free health care to free college education all because he believes that if you sprinkle enough fairy dust, suddenly people will provide their services for nothing.
America is at a crossroads, and Americans will need to decide in the upcoming election what kind of country they want to be. A nation that freedom loving people around the world look to with hope, or one that sinks back into the totalitarian ooze that has consumed mankind throughout most of recorded history?
At a time when our nation should be hearing lofty speeches about the future of the nation building a consensus around exalting individual freedom, we are subjected to failed socialist doctrine from one side, and near silence in the defense of free markets from the other. The associations who would normally be depended upon to fight for free enterprise have become so tarnished by the stain of the corporate-government partnership that they have lost their voice, and the candidates are driven by a news cycle that rewards 140 character thoughts over eloquence.
America remains the last best hope for freedom in the world, as the primary winds toward a close, let’s hope that the GOP candidates remind voters of why this is true. They have the bully pulpit and failure to use it to defend freedom and the American dream is simply inexcusable.