Come on, progressives, it’s time to talk freedom!

Image by on Wikimedia Commons

We have had four presidential announcements now – three Republican (Paul, Cruz, Rubio) and one Democratic (Clinton).

Of the three Republican announcements, the word “freedom” rings out twelve times. You hear “liberty” 26 times.

How many times do you hear the words freedom and liberty in Clinton’s announcement? Zero, zilch, nada.


As I’ve written before, come on, progressives, we have got to own the concept of freedom!

Freedom and liberty are THE central animating ideas of America. Yes, the concept of equality matters, too. But what is it people want equality of? Freedom!

We cannot keep ceding the ground of freedom and liberty to the right. That’s partly for rhetorical reasons. Many Americans define themselves by their love of freedom and liberty. We’re foolish not to talk those people in terms they understand. But we also have to claim that ground because progressive morals, attitudes, and policies actually DELIVER more freedom and liberty.

Why do we want expanded and guaranteed voting rights? Because in a democratic republic, people should be as free as possible to have the opportunity to choose their leaders.

Why do we want money out of elections? Because all people should be free to have their voices heard by their government, not just those of great wealth.

Why do we oppose discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and sexual orientation? Because we believe people should be free to live their lives and judged by their qualities and actions, not the accidents of their birth.

Why do we work to ensure that people have enough food, a quality education, affordable health care, and financial security? So that they can be free by having the resources and capabilities necessary to pursue their dreams and achieve their aims.

I could go on. The point is that we progressives have to frame our values and goals in terms of freedom and liberty. It’s sweet justice that, unlike conservatives, our framing also matches the reality of our beliefs.

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