1) Universal suffrage - everyone can vote as long as they are 18 years old and a citizen - this kind of democratic equality is a hallmark of a free country
2) Independent courts - they are able to rule on the side of the individual against government or the wealthy or business, simply because they do not have to worry about keeping their jobs. They can stay loyal to the Constitution and nothing else.
3) Freedom of Travel - No need for you to show your ID when crossing a state border, or to tell anyone when you plan a vacation
4) The Bill of Rights - a guaranteed part of the contract that protects you from your government and gives you very specific, yet broad freedoms.
The essence of American freedoms;
1. 'Endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'
2. 'Consent of the governed'
3. 'Governments are instituted among men'...not the other way around....
4. 'If the government becomes abusive to these ends, the people have a right to alter or abolish the government'...thank God we have had an election every four years to ensure the altering but not the abolition of our government structure.
The principles of the Declaration of Independence make the United States a free nation. The principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights reaffirm the right of the American freedoms setforth in the Declaration of Independence.
Our Bill of Rights that lists the freedoms that every citizen has in this country.
We have a balanced government of checks and balances that protects the citizens from a monarchy type of government or leader that would abuse his/her power.
We have the right to vote which allows us to be directly apart of our government by choosing our leader.
We have a fair and just justice system that ulimately is in place to protect the citizens by declaring acts from Congress or the President unconstitutional.
I was debating this in the course of putting it together. I think that Turner's thesis is one of those historical documents that has undergone so much revision in terms of being accepted and derided, that his original element is lost. The underlying implication of his idea of the frontier is the emergence of this line or boundary that ends up demarcating the point at which individuals seek to establish their own boundaries. In my mind, this demarcating line represents American freedom and its specific relationship to the dialectical other. I liked the application of Turner's thesis that Rushdie offered in his collection of essays, "Step Across This Line." One of the ideas presented is that the border is one that is ever changing and ever present, representing the moment where one recognizes the other and seeks to understand it, appropriate it, or use it as a reference point for itself. I think that post- Cold War America has confronted the realities of information technology, which has created more boundaries that have been accepted, overcome, and then confronted with the emergence of new borders. I would suggest and think that while we enjoy more freedom, the new borders that confront us are ones where we exercise our freedom in the hopes of understanding them and seeking to overcome them.
I hope I can also commend you in your post above, as I thought you hit on the major points that hit me as I pondered hte question. Strong points demonstrated.
Question for you, akannan, in re your use of the Turner frontier hypothesis. Jackson was writing a bit over 100 years ago, at which point the frontier was more or less closed. Do you feel that America has been becoming less free since then? Or do you believe that the frontier helped us for a while but is no longer a factor? Or do you feel that we still in some way have a frontier? Good points in your post, BTW.
I think that the previous post does a nice job in addressing four particular items. I might be able to diverge and offer some other ideas. One particular reason why America is a free nation is because of its conception of "the frontier," the idea that there are always new and varied lines of demarcation that are waiting to be explored. As long as America has been in existence, the border or frontier has been a part of its history and sense of identity. This would feed into its literature, which helps develop a sense of national character that revels in freedom, both good and bad uses of it. Most of American Literature is steeped in this notion of individual autonomy and freedom. At the same time, I would propose that the idea of lack of institutional hierarchy helps to enhance our concept of freedom. This is a country that did not codify classes or social orders that limited individuals, contributing to its free nature. Finally, I would propose that the primary goal of "forming a more perfect union" in the Constitution helps to develop the concept that America is a nation always under renovation and repair, that it continually strives to "get it right." Just as the Patriots understood this 200 years ago, so it stands today as we continue to right wrongs and rectify mistakes. In this process, freedom to question, redo, revise, and revisit become essential in the democratic experiment.
I'm going to take this to mean "what factors allow us to be free" rather than "what examples show that we are free."
1. Most people would point to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These laws guarantee us various freedoms and institute a system of government designed to allow us to be free.
2. But that's not enough -- we could have the Constitution and just ignore it as we did for all those years where blacks were treated unequally. So what makes us want to follow the Constitution. The answer here is our political culture. We are raised to believe in freedom and democracy and so it's relatively easy for us to have those things. So our culture allows us to be free.
3. But why do we have a culture like that where some other countries don't? First reason, because we have (and have always had) a large middle class. When most of the country is middle class, people feel equal to one another and treat each other equally. This allows for democracy and freedom.
4. This may seem strange, but we're free in part because we originated as an English colony. England was the most democratic, freest country in the world back at the time of the founding of the colonies and even at the time of the Revolution. So we started off with this idea that democracy was the norm. This allows us to be free.
So -- we're free because our history and our economic structure give us a culture that believes in democracy and freedom.
Its very disheartening to see these teachers that do not understand the difference between rights and privileges. No, to this question! We do not live in a free country and it hasn't been free since Abraham Lincoln was dictator. If you would like to debate whether Lincoln was a president or a dictator I'd be happy to, I would just ask that you actually read up on him first, preferably a historian's book, and not something that the Lincoln cult threw together.
My proof we live in a state of voluntary servitude, is the act of 1871, and the 14th amendment. If you don't understand legalese please don't comment, you aren't worth my time. We U.S. citizens "little c is important because of contract law" we don't fully own our bodies, because our mothers signed a little piece of us off to the State, in the form of a birth certificate. Its also called a strawman or legal fiction. This is how we are allowed to contract, and get tricked into contracts, or even coerced into Joyner, its never to our benefit either. Freedom in the strictest since is tied to property ownership, so you can simply ask a few questions and determine if anyone you know is free. Do you won your body? No, not if you have a birth certificate, not all of it anyway. Can you own property in the U.S. in allodium? This means full ownership with no other land lords. Well, you can try. Nevada and Texas are your best shot. Pure ownership means you are not required to pay property taxes to anyone, so unless you want to spend about a month a year inside a jail cell I wouldn't advise it. The myth that any U.S. citizen is actually free needs to be put to rest. I don't know what kind of mental gymnastics it took for any of these so called educators to come up with their answers, but I will pray for our children's future, I'm agnostic but what the hell, what have we got to lose? We have to stop perpetrating this lie. Do the damn research. Do you really think the government can use our constitution like toilet paper if it actually did limit its powers? Lets see here, we have constitution free zones now, warrantless wiretapping, suspended habeus corpus, you name a part of the bill of rights and I will show you where the government has violated it. Free country, as if. hahahaha I can't believe anyone still thinks this way! Grow up.
4. Free speech and press