According to Merriam Webster, freedom is defined as primarily “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action” and is secondarily “a political right”. Americans are raised to bleed red, white, and blue, while sticking to the over-familiar, deep-rooted ideology. Because the United States of America was founded with the endowed principle of freedom, the word is ingrained into our minds, but few Americans stop to think whether we are a country of free people.
Freedom, by definition, is the absence of necessity. What comes to my mind, when that aspect of freedom is discussed is warmth without vanity. I picture pure content happiness, like when standing by a warm campfire on a summer night surrounded by those I love most in the world. The burdens of finances and material commodities that Americans take for granted are nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, those two desires are what fuel this country. In a land where independence is the key to life, the greedy population surely has lost the meaning of the term. Freedom and independence go hand-in-hand, but the need for material objects is what holds Americans prisoners to the never-ending cycle of the American Dream.
The absence of coercion is the absence of forceful persuasion and is also a key component to the establishment of freedom. Contradictory to definition of freedom, the political system of the United States of America is fueled by coercive diplomacy. According to Robert Art’s publication The United States and Coercive Diplomacy, “Coercive diplomacy is the ‘attempt to get a target, a state, a group (or groups) within a state, or a nonstate actor-to change its objectionable behavior through either the threat to use force or the actual use of limited force’.” Based on that excerpt, it is clear that The Unites States’ recent 2016 presidential election was not void of freedom-defying coercion. With two polarized candidates, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump enacted a plethora of diplomatic coercion, such as the promises of a large wall being built, deportation of immigrants, exposing sexual abuse, altering taxes, and playing upon the racist fears of Americans, in order to persuade each population to cast a ballot in a certain way. With the democracy that is supposed to empower the American people, the present political system manipulates the public into changing their voting preferences and behaviors, constraining their choice of action. This takes American freedom away.
The United States of America states in the Constitution that,
“Prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances”
This quote is the first Amendment of the United States Constitution and is one of the most practiced and yet controversial rights to the American people. While the patriotic population is encouraged to freely practice religion, portions of the American people criticize religions that are not their personal beliefs. For example, a vast group of the population lack trust and respect for the Muslim faith, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then, many believers hide their faith, because of relentless persecution. For those people, the freedom to practice their religion was taken away from them. This prejudice roared its ugly head, during the 2016 presidential election campaigns, as one of the candidates, using diplomatic coercion, blatantly expressed their hatred and distrust for the religion and its followers. Thus, alienating Muslims on national television and adding to the hypocritical population that are not comfortable with other religions. Not only do those that disagree with specific religions persecute others in the United States of America, but religious zealots also target those that life different lifestyles from them. The Westboro Baptist Church is notorious for picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers, protesting the marriage of homosexual couples, and overall spewing words of hate to those that disagree with their views. In the national Constitution, freedom of speech is listed alongside the freedom of religion, but when the speech is alienating of the religion, neither practices are free.
From studying the written amendments of the United States of America’s backbone, and witnessing the actions of American society, is it clear that the definition of freedom has been lost in translation. Though Americans pride themselves in being a freedom-centered country, populations are taken slaves to the views and opinions of other Americans. From the structure of democracy, to the prejudices of the public population, the United States of America needs to rethink what it means to be free, in order to fully experience what freedom can truly bring to our society.
Art, Robert J., and Patrick M. Cronin. The United States and Coercive Diplomacy. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 2003. Print.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
“The United States Constitution – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net.” The United States Constitution – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Various tested Wikipedia sources
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