Steve Chapman

These conservatives cannot bring themselves to admit all the ways in which America has grown freer in our time. Wage and price controls have been relegated to the scrap heap of history. Deregulation has occurred in one sector after another.

Political speech, including corporate speech, is less constrained than ever. Radio stations no longer have to provide airtime for different viewpoints. Gambling is legal in almost every state. The Supreme Court recognizes an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Marijuana laws have become more permissive. Women enjoy equality. Racial and ethnic minorities are full participants in our society. Gays have been largely freed of persecution and can get legal protection for their families.

Communism is dead. Socialism is dead. They live on only in the nightmares of conservative fear-mongers.

The problem is that drama queens make no effort to comprehend the liberal mind. Obama and his party are not actually aflame with the dream of turning America into North Korea. They merely have different ideas about how to address problems they regard as a collective responsibility in a practical way.

Democrats are often mistaken about how their remedies would work. But if conservatives treat those proposals as nothing more than ruses to enslave us, they will not be taken seriously.

Some Obama policies may indeed curtail economic freedom at the margin, but not so much as to warrant howling panic, and not in any way that future elections cannot undo. Exaggerating the danger insults our intelligence and discredits serious conservative and libertarian ideas.

Chuck Norris and his wife, Gena, warned Americans that Obama's re-election could mean "1,000 years of darkness." But look! The sun came up this morning. Don't be surprised if it does again tomorrow.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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