A Canamerican’s Perspective

By Guest Contributor

I am a Canamerican — one of the truest. Oh, and in the somewhat likely event that portmanteaus are not your bag, kind reader, allow me to elaborate: I am a dual citizen of Canada and America, and can’t for the life of me discern which country deserves my undivided national pride.  Indeed, I’ve recently come to the realization that my sovereign heart — beautifully, tragically — will have to remain divided. I, as if the protagonist in some outlandish romantic comedy, find myself immersed in a frantic and impassioned love affair with a set of conjoined sisters who, after years of fraternal bickering, have now settled for a healthy relationship marked by occasional banter.  I can only thank God that Mexico isn’t in the picture: I can salsa about as well as I can speak Spanish. Entonces.

My select identity as a citizen of Americanada is a double-sided coin.  I face blushing ridicule for my country’s comely affinity for hockey and mounted police officers, while at the same time defending my country’s liberty-swathed rock-em-sock-em affinity for itself.  But more importantly, I’ve been able to fashion a relatively objective lens through which to view both countries.  And Thanksgiving in Ireland is like a whole new prescription for my American glasses.

The perspective I’ve been granted by virtue of being a Canamerican abroad has made me acutely aware of one thing: we’re making a mockery of freedom in America. I think we’re in the process of taking the most important human right — the highest moral good — and turning it into a meaningless platitude, a mere unit of propaganda.

Freedom in American has become inextricably linked with an unrelenting desire to consume — and leave the rest. Freedom is now synonymous with low taxes. Take the libertarian party for example: noble goals, respectable earnestness and a healthy spoonful of intellectual dishonesty. They claim that all our problems will be solved by a more negligible presence of government. In fairness, this dishonesty is probably not a product of conscious design on the part of modern party members, but is rather that of a few generations of Cold War and communist witch-hunts.

America has good reason to fear communism in its Marxist-Leninist forms.  But Marx and Engels had some really profound and important insights about capitalism —insights we seem to have forgotten. Namely that, unfettered, capitalism looks something like England and Ireland at the beginning of the industrial revolution (I don’t even care to describe these conditions, because Engels wrote a book about them, and they’re horrible).  And while the complete absorption of a nation’s means of production by a totalitarian government is admittedly inane, the realization that the free market isn’t a divine organism was a damn good one.  Under pure capitalism, workers are treated like commodities and are compensated accordingly. I call that exploitation, but I suppose freedom works too.

Socialism is merely the recognition that the working class of a capitalist society is under-compensated for the work it does.  Socialism is the realization that the prosperity of a nation is owed not just to its “job-creators,” but also to every member of its economic structure — top to bottom. Hence, the progressive tax system. More importantly, it is about freedom — and I mean real freedom.  Freedom is the ability to define yourself.  A free country would be one in which people have the opportunity to educate themselves and to live in moderate comfort as long as they try to contribute to society.  But instead, many Americans reject the basic idea of national welfare; they’d prefer to live in a country where if you don’t rise, you drown. Today, 40 percent of Americans combined have less money than six members of the Walton family. Today, if people take advantage of government programs, the intuition is to eliminate government rather than to develop more efficient programs.  We’ve forgotten why we developed welfare in the first place: up until the Cold War, we recognized that it was the cornerstone of free society.

So what should the Libertarian party be concerned with?  Yes, less military interventionism. Yes, the legalization of drugs. Yes, the removal of legislation that allows the President to arrest US citizens without trial.  But fewer taxes?  The reason we pay taxes is to improve our society.

But the profound distinction between our socialism (and don’t kid yourself, America is a socialist country), and the Soviet Union’s, is that we have a representative government.  Ideally, we choose where our tax money goes.  So then, again, what should the Libertarian party (and indeed every party) be most concerned with? Keeping America democratic.

And today, that means getting rid of super-PACs. In fact, it means the elimination of private campaign funding.  It means no gerrymandering, and it means operating an accountable government free of corruption and free of legislation written to satisfy grumbling lobbyists and corporate interests.  If America is to embody the freedom it professes so fervently, the political debate should not be about wealthy people keeping their cash, it should be about reinstating a democracy that allocates said cash effectively.

Mohan Fitzgerald ’14

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