In a Polarized America, the Freedom to Choose Is More Important Than Ever

Loudoun County, Virginia, the once rural suburb of Washington D.C., now one of the wealthiest counties in America has become ground zero for the fight over critical race theory (CRT). Hundreds of angry parents have organized to confront the Loudoun County School Board and protest CRT in the curriculum. Leading to the escalation was the discovery of an “anti-racist” Facebook group made up of teachers, parents, several school board members, and other local officials to identify and expose parents who did not align with the radical CRT laced curriculum in the schools. Tension further escalated when the school board shut down public comment which was followed by the arrest of two parents for further disruption. Loudoun County is serving as a microscope into the tense polarization that America is experiencing.

Hard working parents in Loudoun and across the country feel trapped as the values they have worked tirelessly to instill in their children are being undermined by progressive school boards, teachers, and teachers unions. All the parents can do is show up to school board meetings and voice their concerns to school board members who are clearly ideologically opposed to the traditional values parents seek to protect. Yes, parents are free to run for the school board next election, but that may not be an option for working parents focused on providing for their families and giving what little free time they have left to their children at home. Parents want to feel confident that traditional American values are not being undermined when their children are in the classroom, and if a problem arises, that they have the power to address the issue. Currently parents are left feeling powerless with few options and the frustration is boiling over.

In the United States, supposedly the freest country in the world, citizens should not be trapped without alternative choices.

Teachers unions have worked relentlessly to squash any type of competition to protect their members. The result has been detrimental to students and concerned parents everywhere. The tax dollars of hard-working parents are flowing into schools that directly undermine the values parents work to instill in their children at home, and there is no choice in the matter. In an increasingly polarized America, having choices is more important than ever.

Beyond progressive school boards and monopolistic teacher unions, the sentiment of being trapped by ideological tyrants persists. Big Tech has formed ideological cartels which coordinate to stifle and shut down those who do not conform. The popular proposed solution is to break up these monopolies, cartels, and seize the levers of power by winning elections. Elections, trust busting, and political victories are all short-term solutions. Even if successful, eventually the woke left will regain control as the political pendulum continues to swing.

As a nation, America is a melting pot of cultures and ideas which for the first time lacks a common enemy to unite around and put aside our differences. The Cold War offered us 40 years of opposition to communism and the Soviet Union, but in modern America we lack the luxury of a shared ideological foe. However, the goal should not be a common enemy but shared values that bind us to our neighbors, community, and country. It is abundantly clear that the divide of our shared values has grown. In conjunction with this divide is the ever-increasing centralization of power and diminishing plurality of choices that local communities and individuals once enjoyed.

The progressive left has no interest in the traditional American mantra of “live and let live.” Wokeism does not seek simple toleration, but subjugation and obedience to its dogma. To accomplish the subordination of its ideology, progressivism will seek to centralize and devour competing institutions. Americans who still hold dearly to the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should beware of falling prey to the idea of simply battling the progressives for the levers of power. There may be short-term victories, but every victory will be followed by a loss and continual loss of ground.

The way to defeat progressive wokeism is with competition.

The emphasis in combating the enemies of freedom and anti-Americanism should be placed on the conditions for competitive entry and exit. School boards, woke teachers, and progressive teachers unions would have minimal power if they were beholden to a competitive environment. Instead of parents feeling helpless as they wait for their two minutes to speak at the monthly school board meeting, imagine if their tax dollars followed their child to whichever school they chose? In this case who cares if one school wants to institute critical race theory. Parents can seek out a school which shares the values they wish to instill in their children. The bad schools can change their ways or suffer the consequences. Schools would be incentivized to compete and provide the best education possible. Bad teachers would be put on notice and good teachers rewarded appropriately. The state of Indiana has quietly implemented this reform and almost all middle class families are eligible for the voucher system. Instead of hopelessly arguing about curriculum, parents have the freedom to choose. Instead of feeling trapped they are free to enter and exit.

Beyond woke school boards and education, the regulating mechanism of competition could help heal a polarized America. Instead of lobbying a Nancy Pelosi-run Congress to break up Big Tech, the focus should be on making the competitive environment more aggressive for Big Tech. The American mantra of “live and let live” can truly flourish in a competitive environment where every day Americans feel they have many choices in every aspect of their life.

When there is a plurality of choices, the cream rises to top. Those who are rightfully concerned with the erosion of American values and virtue in society can be confident that in an unencumbered environment the best will win out and the truth will emerge victorious. There is a reason the progressive left despises competition; with competition their ideas will find themselves on the ash heap of history. As Americans we should be confident that our values, which made America the shining beacon on the hill, are superior and will conquer woke ideology. American values can be reinvigorated in society if we adhere to the principles of freedom and liberty.

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Mike Feuz

Mike is the Research Associate at Free the People and a grassroots activist in Virginia politics. When he isn't trying to fight the machine, he's busy being a dad to his two boys. With the little free time he has left, he spends it pursuing his graduate work in economics at George Mason University.

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2 comments

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  • Competition is the answer and many parents in Oregon have made their choice, but one must be careful when picking a school that it meets expectations. Some are just as bad or worse than public schools and cost a lot of money.

    It’s frightening how communism, socialism and markism have systematically taken over some neighborhoods by funding school board campaigns, getting people elected or hired behind the scenes in government positions. Little by little it is creeping in.

    • I agree. With the freedom to choose comes responsibility. As parents we have to take an active role in our child’s education wherever they obtain their education. Public, private, homeschooled, co-op.

      Parents are the first and most important teacher

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