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Freedom — it is a progressive issue.

September 14, 2018



In the past decade or two, we have seen the forces on the farthest right-wing of politics in the United States expropriate to themselves the word Freedom. Freedom to them appears to be limited to freedom from governmental activities that benefit anyone but them and the freedom to possess guns without restriction. Perhaps it is time for progressives to take the word back.

In my opinion, both Freedom and Liberty begins with answers to the following three fundamental questions:

Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power?

If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to?

What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?

The answers are simple: no one should be morally bound to a society that does not pursue such a fair distribution; there is no other goal it should be dedicated to and: without fair and adequate access to wealth, income and power, freedom does not exist.

Perhaps, at a minimum, what we need now and what our progressive candidates should at a minimum pledge to, is a recommitment to something like Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights.

“‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day, these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security.” Franklin Roosevelt 1944 message to Congress


I would add to the above, the right to a natural environment that does not threaten our health, our wealth and indeed our very lives.

I believe that sometimes we forget that Freedom for some and not for all in a nation is not a society of the free — that these things are not what we, the privileged, fight to give to those not so privileged, but they are the rights of all without which a free society cannot exist.

We progressives and the candidates may differ amongst ourselves on how to get there but to me, it should be agreed that this is where we want to go.

It is now approaching 75 years since Roosevelt proposed those bare minimum rights and none, not one, has been achieved in our society. Don’t you think that is long enough?

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