Colorado Editorials

EDITORIAL: Independence is the foundation of freedom

Authors: The Gazette Editorial Board, 46284413 - July 4, 2017 - Updated: July 4, 2017

Today we celebrate 241 years of independence, marked by the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The Declaration highlights “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” as unalienable rights endowed to individuals by a creator. Governments, the declaration implores, are established to secure these rights.

The government of free people derives powers only from “consent of the governed.”

Our government’s military has successfully defended against external foes who don’t like our independence or what we Americans have done with it.

Some cultures don’t like that American women are equal to men by law. They take offense to gay rights, freedom of religion or freedom of speech.

Theocrats and dictators fear our independence and all it has done to facilitate a culture of liberty and astonishing wealth. If we were not independent of all foreign despots, and internal government excess, we would lose our most fundamental freedoms.

Ask Americans old enough to remember the bicentennial celebration on July 4, 1976, and most will tell you “socialist” was a repulsive term. It meant centralized control of the economy and the governed. It was the antithesis of independence.

That’s not the prevailing mindset of younger generations in 2017.

A 2016 Reason-Rupe survey found 53 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 view socialism favorably. Among those 55 and older, only 25 percent share the view.

A YouGov survey found 43 percent of Americans 30 and younger view socialism favorably, while only 32 percent think favorably of capitalism.

Socialism is so popular among young adults, a whopping 85 percent of Democrats 30 and younger supported “democratic socialist” candidate Bernie Sanders in several Democratic primaries.

Today, we will see an celebration of independence by young adults who claim to prefer dependence and collectivist governance.

They may seem hypocritical, but this more likely involves conflicting definitions. Another Reason-Rupe survey asked millennials to define socialism using their words. They found a general perception that socialism means kindness, acceptance and “being together.” Like an ice cream social.

As explained by the The Federalist, additional surveys found “young people do not like the true definition of socialism – the idea of government running businesses. If socialism is framed as government running Uber, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, etc., it does not go over well.”

While Reason-Rupe found majority support for “socialism, their surveys also found 64 percent of young adults prefer a “free market economy” over “an economy managed by the government.”

In other words, young people hate capitalism by title and like it by description. Conversely, they like socialism by title and not so much by the traditional description.

To borrow from “Cool Hand Luke,” what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.

Despite intergenerational semantic challenges, most Americans seem fully on board with the vision their founders had for a culture of self-governed individuals, created equal and allowed to fail or succeed. Young adults may want a strong social safety net, but understand that expanding society’s wealth requires independence, freedom and “capitalism” by some less-offensive name.

Our country fights for and defends independence as a foundation for life, liberty and pursuits of happiness. That’s why Americans of all ages and backgrounds, throughout 50 sovereign states, celebrate independence and the culture of freedom it sustains. Happy Fourth of July!

The Gazette Editorial Board