Americans, we love our freedom. We sing about it in our national anthem. We pledge allegiance to it. Our soldiers ostensibly fight and die for it. This nation was founded on a struggle for freedom from a parental power, culminating in the establishment of an “independent” nation of autonomous persons, each defined by his or her individual right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And, of course, it was the struggle for religious freedom that brought many of the European colonists to the Americas in the first place. So, it could be said that, at least for those who immigrated by choice, a love for the patriotic rhetoric of freedom is in our blood.

And yet, over the years, as the great freedom experiment of this nation has progressed, we have seen its shadow side. Today, the Tea Party and political...

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