There’s a lot of freedom that comes with being a child. Food, shelter — all the important day-to-day stuff — is handled for you. You are left to do as you please throughout most of the day, and while there are a few things you are forced to do, such as go to school and eat your vegetables, these are inarguably for your betterment. There are few real worries when the necessities of survival are guaranteed by your parents, who allow you to be content and carefree. In a way, that’s true freedom.
Being an adult is quite different. Food and shelter are your own responsibilities, and bills need to be paid or you end up starving and on the street. Though left to make your own choices, you can easily make foolish ones, and no one is there to stop you from making them. Your whole life is now in your own hands, and if you tried living as carefree as a child, your house and your job and everything you own would soon be gone. In a way, it’s an oppressive existence.
Of course, seen from another angle, childhood is a rather frightening existence. People get to order you around, and who really knows how qualified they are to make decisions for you? And if they do make poor decisions or fail you, you have no recourse, since you’re just a child. You are stuck in whatever horrible situation others decide for you. It can be the worst kind of tyranny. As an adult, you always have other options. You can make your own decisions, and if something doesn’t work out, you can try something else. Your options are unlimited, and no other person can hold you down and tell you what to do. That would seem to be real freedom.
I think it’s safe to say that in America, everyone loves freedom. Liberals, conservatives — we all love freedom. We just often have different ideas about what that is. Liberals, for the most part, favor the child concept of freedom, and conservatives lean more towards the adult concept of freedom — and each looks on the other’s ideas as scary and oppressive.
The liberals wonder, if you don’t have health care or food or a place to live — and if some privately held company can fire you at any moment and remove your livelihood — how can you be free? And they wonder why we would let ourselves be oppressed by such worries when we have the means and the government to take care of them. Conservatives, on the other hand, look at liberal ideas with great fear, knowing such guarantees by the government will come with restrictions, and if the government fails to deliver what it promises or does it poorly, there’s nothing to be done about it, because there are no other options. How can you be free if the government controls so much of your life and limits the choices available to you?