Ann McClamrock

There are two types of freedom, and you need to pick a side

What does freedom look like?

To Americans, the concept of freedom is easy: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These words, inscribed on the Declaration of Independence, define the ethos of the “Land of the Free.” When Alexis de Tocqueville came to America to wonder at the up-and-coming nation, he praised the extensive forms of “self-government” he encountered.

It’s no exaggeration to say that if Tocqueville hopped in a time machine and arrived in today’s United States, his impression would be far different. The liberty he witnessed in the farm fields and small towns did not subside as America industrialized. The country is still home to a great deal of freedom. It’s just that the modern version of freedom is radically detached from what was once a well-ordered tradition of civic and familial obligation.