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Tammy Messina: The parties of freedom and equality

Right here, right now

Posted: July 15, 2010 5:10 p.m.
Updated: July 16, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

On my husband’s radio show a few weeks ago, he had guests representing both Republican and Democratic viewpoints. The assessment boiled down to this: “Republicans are the party of freedom; Democrats are the people’s party, the party of equality.” That got me thinking.

Freedom is defined as the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action; liberation from slavery, restraint or from the power of another.

Equality is defined as the quality or state of being equal (of the same measure, quantity amount or number as another — like for each member of a group, class or society).

Well, we are definitely freer than those who are in slavery, but we are not completely free from all restraint or from the power of another. There are rules and regulations which we have agreed to as a nation that actually ensure our basic freedoms are protected. These rules are necessary to keep me from exercising my freedom in a way that would infringe on your freedom. I understand that. It makes sense.

In order to have a set of rules and regulations that are common to all, it helps to have a similar set of guiding principles.

Like it or not, our founding fathers used the Bible as that foundation on which to build. Had a different set of principles been used, murder might be acceptable in, say, cases of adultery. You get the drift.

In looking at equality, the question comes to mind: in what, exactly, are we supposed to be equal? The Declaration of Independence states “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s pretty straightforward.

Given the fact that “liberty” is a synonym to “freedom,” it would seem Republicans and Democrats have a lot more in common than what we see in actual practice.

Yet somewhere along the way, equality has been misconstrued to mean more than just “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

As evidenced by recent Democratic leaders with legislation requiring all Americans to purchase health care, equality means that all people are entitled to the same things and that government needs to provide it. Unfortunately, in doing so the people become subject to increased legislation (less freedom to make individual choices) and increased taxes/fees (less freedom to prioritize your own purchases).

Freedom to pursue individual happiness, by its very nature, only serves to ensure that different people will want different things, and some may not want anything at all (like health care). It also ensures that people have the right to fail.

The proper balancing of freedom and equality is critical to our continued success as a nation. Enforcing equality at levels beyond life, liberty and the right to pursue happiness in the way that you choose will inevitably restrict or remove individual freedoms through increased legislation.

In this economic climate, we need to get back to basics. We need leaders who are willing to adhere to the founding documents that have made our nation so great for the past 200-plus years.

Our leaders need to remove burdensome regulations which restrict free enterprise and innovation. Employers and small businesses need freedom to flourish which will, ultimately, create more jobs and enable all of us to prosper. Those with bad business practices and poor working conditions will fail under a free enterprise model (because no one will do business with them and no one will want to work for them).

Our elected leaders are entrusted with protecting this great nation and ensuring our continued success as a whole. It’s not about equally distributing assets, voting party lines or vying for who can garner the most power. It’s about maintaining a framework where individuals have a safe level of freedom to allow innovation and industry to flourish.

It seems to me that both parties should be the parties of freedom and equality, as defined in the Declaration of Independence.

Tammy Messina is a resident of Santa Clarita, a local business owner and a member of the Republican Party. She can be reached at tmessina@wildcat.la. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.

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