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Why the left should be defending personal liberty

The right has taken upon themselves the title of defenders of liberty. Except they don’t actually defend personal liberty.

A few weeks ago, CBC journalist Brett Ruskin shared a video on Twitter of protestors who had set up a blockade on the TransCanada Highway at the New Brunswick—Nova Scotia border. The blockade is in protest of recent COVID-19 travel restrictions announced by the Nova Scotia premier.

According to Ruskin, the protestors at one point stopped a semi because they believed it contained doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. They were trying to prevent it from being delivered for distribution.

I was reflecting on this and thinking about how this reflects a common narrative I’ve been seeing among people on the right.

Now, to be clear, the left isn’t free from people who are against vaccinations or are anti-Big Pharma, but the anti-vaccination movement specifically related to COVID-19 does seem to be driven by people on the right.

And as I thought about this event, I started to see a pattern.

These protestors didn’t want the vaccine, but they also didn’t want others getting the vaccine. Likewise, people on the right are opposed to having an abortion, but they also don’t want others getting an abortion. They’re typically opposed to marrying someone of the same sex, but they also don’t want others marrying someone of the same sex. And so on.

But compare that with the approach of the left:

Make vaccines available to anyone who wants it, but if you don’t want to get it, that’s up to you. Make abortions available to anyone who wants it, but if you don’t want one get it , that’s up to you. Make marriage available to any adult who wants it, but if you don’t want to get married, that’s up to you.

The right has claimed ownership of the idea of “personal liberty”, but it seems to me that the left is more concerned about personal liberty than the right is.

Because are you truly free to choose a vaccine if they’re unavailable? Are you truly free to choose an abortion if they’re unavailable? Are your truly free to choose marriage if it’s unavailable?

Is everyone truly free to pursue their dreams if some people have more power and wealth than others? Is everyone truly free to choose the job they want if people won’t hire them because of their gender? Is everyone truly free to choose to not be homeless if landlords won’t rent to them because of their ethnicity? Is everyone truly free to live their life if they’re overpoliced because of the colour of their skin.

It seems to me that the true champions of personal liberty are the left. Their advocacy for the breaking down of classist, sexist, homophobic, and racist barriers lays the foundation for personal liberty. Because as long as dreams and goals and hopes are unattainable because of systemic bias and oppression, then not everyone will have personal freedom.

I think the left needs to change the narrative on personal liberty.

Video of blocked semi

https://buff.ly/3j2AASC

Video of protester saying that vaccinated people have been “poisoned for their government”

https://buff.ly/3qkE8RL

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 4 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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