A recent ad for Jeep vehicles proudly proclaims, “The thing about freedom is that it knows no limits.” Unfortunately, too many Americans actually believe this and such a simplistic, misguided notion of freedom has wreaked havoc on American culture over the past year as we struggle to deal effectively with a global pandemic.
This was vividly illustrated recently by Congressman Jim Jordan’s angry exchange with Dr. Anthony Fauci when he declared that his constitutionally guaranteed “liberties” were needlessly threatened by the restrictions required to bring Covid-19 under control. Fauci was exactly right when he chided Jordan for selfishly insisting on his personal freedoms in a public health crisis which has claimed over 573,000 American lives.
Many Americans who unfortunately share Jordan’s views not only fail to understand the seriousness of our current cultural problems but also display a woeful misunderstanding of the Constitution which in no way absolutizes personal freedom. The Founding Fathers, who were deeply suspicious of unbridled individualism driven by anarchic freedom, were careful to construct an intricate network of checks and balances which harmonized personal freedom with moral, social and political responsibility. They would have nothing but contempt for Jordan’s socially toxic concept of freedom. And they would be deeply distressed by how this false idea of freedom has weakened American culture on many levels over the past 40 years.