We in the United States like to consider our nation “free” and even the leader of the “free world”. Compared with totalitarian and authoritarian regimes of the past and present, yes, we are free. But that should not be the standard of comparison. The standard should be full political liberty, and there we are still lacking.
What are we missing? Let me list some:
(1) We lack a full vote. In an election for public office with more than two candidates, we can only vote for one candidate. After we have voted for one candidate, we cannot vote for any other candidate. So we have a partial vote, and this can lead to candidates with the largest plurality but without a majority being elected. This can lead to the least-preferred candidate in a three-way election being elected. All because people are only allowed to vote for one candidate.
Voting is an up-or-down decision but that decision is about each candidate for public office. People have a full vote only if they can vote for every candidate of their choice. This is called approval voting because voters can vote for every candidate they approve. Essentially, they are putting candidates into two groups: those they approve and those they don’t. That is a full vote and it is missing today.
(2) We lack the right to freely form political parties. Instead, the two major parties have rigged the system to make it difficult to establish a political party and get on the ballot. And political parties are regulated by the State instead of having freedom to conduct their affairs as they wish. For example, political parties do not have the right to determine membership in their party. We have primary elections in which voters can choose any ballot, so members of one party can vote in the primary for another party and determine their candidate.
While basic accountability for political parties should be enacted, political parties should be free to conduct their affairs as they wish. Let the voters decide whether they like them or not.
(3) We lack the right to freely contribute to political candidates. There are limits on what individuals can give, what parties can give, what campaigns can give, and what unaffiliated organizations can give. This gives an advantage to incumbents and those who can get free media attention. It undermines a free and open political process — contrary to the claims of those who promote these limits.
All that is needed is that the public is informed in a timely manner as to where each candidate’s finances are coming from. Publishing contributions over a specified amount can easily be done today. Then we can let the public decide if they like what they see or not.
There are other ways in which our liberty is unjustly restricted. The Institute for Justice among others is working on them: economic liberty, educational liberty (school choice), First Amendment defense (freedom of religion and speech), and private property defense.
In some ways the United States is free, but in other ways we still need to fight for freedom. The struggle goes on!