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The Dream That Was America

March 14, 2009
Robert Hawes

I clearly remember being taught that, in the Soviet Union, fear ruled with an iron fist. Government spies were everywhere. The secret police could listen in on your phone calls at any time. They could read your mail. They could search your home and other property and seize whatever they liked. You could never be certain that you weren’t being watched, no matter where you were. You had to carry identification papers everywhere you went, and many times you had to have permission to travel very far at all. And it wasn’t just government agents that you had to be concerned about; you also had to live with the fear that your own friends, co-workers or family members might report you for “suspicious activities” or “politically questionable statements,” sometimes for no other reason than to endear themselves to the communist party bosses. You had no enforceable rights where the state was concerned. Government agents could kick your door down in the middle of the night, drag you away to a state prison, torture you and even execute you. Your family would never know where you were. More than likely, you would not have legal council or ever see the inside of a courtroom. You were the property of the state, which was free to do whatever it liked with you.

We called this oppressive, militaristic mega-state “the Evil Empire,” and we prided ourselves on being everything that the Soviets were not.

In America, the common man had enforceable rights, even where the government was concerned. Americans were not the property of the state. You could travel where you wished, and most of the time the government didn’t care about what you were doing. Americans could say what they wished, engage in whatever peaceful political activities they wished, with no fear of violent reprisal. Americans did not disappear into gulags. If the government accused you of illegal activities, it had to give you a day in court and prove its case before a jury of your peers. Sure, America had its problems; virtually everyone admitted that. But we were still the “land of the free,” and our institutions and daily lives backed that claim to a high degree, certainly in comparison to the Soviet Union.

This is the dream that was America versus the nightmare that was the Soviet Union.

Now, fast-forward in time. As I write this, fewer than twenty years have passed since the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War specter lifted. The Soviet Union is gone, and America. . . well, if you had told us in the 1970s or 1980s what America would be like today, and where it seems to be heading, I don’t think we would have believed you.

The story continues …..

One Comment leave one →
  1. C A Heisterkamp permalink
    March 14, 2009 11:17 am

    Legislating money to the poor by legislating money from the rich is not the pursuit of happiness and basis of freedom our founding fathers had in mind. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. When many Americans recognize that they do not have to work because a few in America are going to give them money through the government’s redistribution of wealth, the motivation to be productive and provide contribution to society is lost. The welfare state, class division and animosity flourish. The pursuit of happiness is lost.

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