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The PJ Tatler

by
Dan Miller

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May 26, 2011 - 8:33 am

President Obama has lauded democracy in many of his speeches but has seldom used the word “freedom.” There can be democracy without freedom (sometimes we call it mobocracy), and maybe even freedom without democracy; the words are not synonymous. In many countries, lack of freedom eviscerates even the pretense of democracy. Venezuela has elections, and el Presidente Chávez has used them to remain in power; freedom is conspicuously absent. Many other examples could be cited. The United States may be in danger of forfeiting many of her freedoms.

During his address to the British Parliament on May 25th, President Obama spoke of freedom as well as democracy. He stated,

“Let there be no doubt: The United States and United Kingdom stand squarely on the side of those who long to be free,” Obama vowed. “And now, we must show that we will back up those words with deeds. That means investing in the future of those nations that transition to democracy … by deepening ties of trade and commerce, by helping them demonstrate that freedom brings prosperity.”

He also spoke of the great alliance between Britain and the United States and observed that it remains both viable and necessary:

“Even as more nations take on the responsibilities of global leadership,” Obama said, “our alliance will remain indispensable to the goal of a century that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more just. After a difficult decade that began with war and ended in recession, our nations have arrived at a pivotal moment once more.”

“Perhaps, the argument goes, these nations represent the future, and the time for our leadership has passed,” he said. “That argument is wrong. The time for our leadership is now.”

The grand alliance aspect of his address seems to have received more notice than the linking of freedom and democracy, but the latter seems more interesting and could, perhaps, be more important. The Financial Times (subscription required) noted,

Mr Obama said that Britain and America’s shared belief in human dignity and the rule of law gave them a special position in nurturing reform in the Middle East, including supporting new regimes in Egypt and Tunisia.

He also offered a rallying call to those in the Middle East and north Africa striving to topple incumbent regimes. “The US and the UK stand squarely on the side of those who long to be free,” he said.

If — and it’s a big if — President Obama is actually serious about the great importance of freedom, and if he takes his words seriously enough to support freedom through actions as well as words, it may be a meaningful development; otherwise not.

If President Obama and his administration stop truncating freedom within the United States through regulatory overreach, wasting money regardless of availability, forcing gun control under the radar, forcing ObamaCare, Strip and Grope and other activities neither popular nor necessary, being duplicitous while pretending to have the most transparent administration in the history of the country, attempting to silence critics, offering pablum rather than good red meat to chew on and in the many other ways increasingly evident, there will be real hope for legitimate change. Otherwise, it will remain apparent that his recent words about freedom were meaningless sounds, to be read from TOTUS and spoken by POTUS without lurking even momentarily in his mind or heart.

Dan Miller graduated from Yale University in 1963 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1966. He retired from the practice of law in Washington, D.C., in 1996 and has lived in a rural area in Panama since 2002.
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