Buttigieg Makes Redefining the Word ‘Freedom’ His Number One Policy Issue

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Ind.) unveiled several of his policy goals, but it seems like redefining the word “freedom” is his number one objective.

The 37-year-old midwest mayor surprised many when he first announced his long-shot presidential bid, but since then, he has rocketed up the polls, consistently ranking in the top five of the 23 Democrats in the race.

He chalked up his meteoric rise to his ability to communicate with voters. One key way he’s been doing this is by reclaiming typically-conservative talking points for his own messaging. Redefining the word “freedom” to fit his liberal policymaking has been one of his go-to stump speeches on the campaign trail.

Watch Buttigieg’s speech on reclaiming the word “freedom”:

“One thing conservatives did very effectively was they sort of claimed the idea space. They talked a lot about values and kind of won a lot of the arguments — or at least a lot of the media space — for their values, beginning with the Reagan administration in such a way that even Democrats were compelled to do, what I would consider, largely conservative things when they took office, really at any time in my lifetime. And so it’s very important to me to make sure we’re winning a values argument too. It’s why I talk about things like freedom, and why freedom can’t just be a property of the conservative movement to the Republicans, but that means constructive freedom.”

Google defines freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” In his attempts to reclaim the word “freedom,” Buttigieg has redefined what it means to be restrained and who is doing the restraining.

The mayor accurately claimed that Republicans tend to believe only the government can limit freedom, but Buttigieg wants to expand that to include businesses and individuals with different ideas, saying on his website, “Threats to freedom come not just from government, but also from corporations with too much power, and economic and social conditions that undermine the freedom of individuals and communities.”


“We’ve allowed our conservative friends to get a monopoly on the idea of freedom. Now they care about freedom, but they care about a very specific kind of freedom: freedom from. Freedom from regulation, as though government is the only thing that could make us unfree. But that’s not true, is it? We know that your neighbor can make you unfree, your cable company can make you unfree.”

To Buttigieg, a limit on freedom is any restriction on things he feels Americans need.

Buttigieg dove home this message on his newly unveiled policy page on his website. An entire category of his policy prescriptions for his potential presidency is categorized under the word “freedom,” including his plans to push many left-wing policies:

  • Medicare-for-all: “Freedom means not having to choose between health care and financial survival.”
  • Debt-free college: “Freedom means access to affordable higher education.”
  • Infrastructure: “Freedom means building 21st century infrastructure, because you’re not free to pursue happiness if you don’t have access to safe roads or clean water.”
  • Racial Justice: “Freedom means racial justice, and reversing the damage of past and present racism to our communities, policies, and politics.”
  • Organized labor: “Freedom means the ability to organize in order to hold employers accountable and advocate for fair pay.”

One problem with Buttigieg’s redefinition of freedom is that health care bills don’t limit one’s rights. Neither do student loans, right to work laws, or potholes. Those are inconveniences, not infringements. Buttigieg’s vision of freedom can only happen if the government first takes more from Americans in taxes.

Today, Americans can choose to take on student debt, work for a unionized company, or switch their health insurance provider. No company has the force of law to make them do otherwise. Only the government can take away those freedoms.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

What do you think?


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An articulate politician. Sneaky Pete trying to redefine freedom and uses many words to impress the sheep.


Democrats stifle freedom. When ever someone says something they don’t like, they do everything possible to shut them up or shout them down. I’ve had it happen to me on facebook and in person. Conservative speakers at colleges have had their events cancelled after students rioted at the college, burning campuses and breaking windows. Conservative rallies have been attacked with violence by Antifa, the BLM and other Democrat entities. They seek to shut down the NRA because they don’t like what the NRA has to say. Democrats believe that you only have rights if you agree with them. They are… Read more »


First; I seriously doubt Petie remembers much of what President Reagan did between 1981 and 1988 before and within 6 years after he was born.

Secondly; with him being an advocate for Socialism, he certainly must know OUR definition of “freedom” and “equality” under their form of Socialism cannot co-exist. As a Socialist, his using Conservative talking points MAY (?) win him a vote or two; but most will see right through his rhetoric to get votes.





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