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The principles that make America great

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Washington, September 20, 2019 | comments

As voters watch Democrats duke out their differences in the presidential primary, one common thread appears to unite their party: an utter lack of regard for individual freedoms. Democrats want to grow the scope and size of government, taking control of your healthcare, your firearms, and even your pocketbook. The unyielding dedication to the protection and advancement of the liberties that made America great continues to make our nation great today. While coastal elitists from both parties may have forgotten the importance of individual freedoms, working men and women have not. Free speech, religious liberty, and the right to bear arms have distinguished our country in the course of history and continue to pave the way for greater prosperity and human flourishing tomorrow.

 

Free speech is in our nation’s DNA. Who we are and how we live is built on the notion that each person can and should have the right to think and speak for themselves. But today, public speech is being policed by those claiming to know better than you and me.

Big tech corporations like Twitter and Facebook are playing the role of thought police, banning or stifling accounts that refuse to conform to the social media giants’ liberal value systems. Just this month, Facebook censored two videos shared by Live Action, a pro-life organization. Despite one of the videos featuring a board-certified neonatologist making a common medical argument, Facebook “fact-checked” the content, rating it “false.” Once Facebook had tagged this video with a “false” rating, Live Action was prohibited from advertising its content, and Facebook suppressed the Live Action website and the Facebook page of its founder. While Facebook eventually retracted the rating to give the fact-check organization time to conduct an internal review, this situation demonstrates the threat conservative organizations face daily on social media platforms.

Threats against free speech and the open exchange of ideas occur on campuses where college administrators work to suppress the voices of people they disagree with and to shape students’ minds in the way they see fit — rather than allowing them the independence to learn to think for themselves. America is stronger when all people are free to think and speak their own minds.

Religious liberty originally drew our earliest colonists to the New World. The promise of a land where they could worship openly and express their own faith drove them to leave a familiar homeland for the unknown. Here in America they were able to live according to their own consciences and hearts without a king telling them how live or worship. Yet more and more, we see the Left pushing people to confine religion exclusively to places of worship by pushing against any expressions of faith in the public square.

But this is a fundamental misunderstanding of what religious freedom is and ought to be — it’s not a shared faith, but a shared right to live according to your own faith. We should respect the free exercise of everyone's beliefs, not because we agree with the tenets of that faith, but because we respect the individual right of each person to live as they see fit.

While the Declaration of Independence articulates the inalienability of our individual liberties, which are innate to all people, our Constitution outlines in the Second Amendment that every person is entitled to defend those rights. It’s through the right to bear arms that Americans are ensured the ability to defend themselves, the people they love, the homes they’ve built, and their rights. Empowering individuals to defend the things most dear to them is distinctly and uniquely American. It is essential to the preservation of liberty that citizens fight to maintain this fundamental right. 

The principles Democrats pass over as obsolete — the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms — are the very things that make America strong, unique, and truly great. While Democrats squabble over the best way to dismantle the fundamental greatness of our country, I will never stop advocating, working, and voting to preserve and advance the principles Americans hold dear.

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Rep. Jody Hice, a Republican, represents Georgia's 10th congressional district. He is communications chair of the House Freedom Caucus.
Published in  Washington Examiner on Friday, September 20, 2019. 

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