True, freedom may be only one of several ingredients for a good society. And disordered liberty may carry spiritual and physical costs. But these are no reasons to diminish freedom’s importance, its appeal, or its centrality in the American experience. Earlier this week marked the 154th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address and its peroration of “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Yesterday, Americans celebrated our opportunity to live in religious and civil liberty. Every July, we commemorate our Declaration of Independence from Britain and rededicate ourselves to the idea of a government whose purpose is to secure inalienable natural rights.

We may be comfortable, affluent, secure, and self-involved, but dangers to freedom remain. The world’s most populous nation, and soon to be largest economy, is governed by a communist dictatorship whose ruler idolizes the butcher Mao Zedong. Its allies include: a Stalinist hereditary monarchy with nuclear weapons; a gigantic autocratic mafia state fomenting discord around the globe; and a terrorism-supporting theocracy. A global movement of religious fanatics conspires to kill innocents and impose fundamentalist law. In our own hemisphere the Communist dictatorship of Cuba shows no signs of political or true economic liberalization while the socialist government of Venezuela has turned its people into mendicants.