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If there’s one thing we’re all proud of in America, it’s our freedom. But what is freedom at its most basic level? The opportunity to choose the direction of our own lives. For America’s founders, the push for freedom began with independence from state-sponsored religion. However, our pursuit of freedom throughout America’s history has led to more choices, diversity, and progress than our founders could have ever imagined..

Decade after decade, women fought to obtain the most basic rights: the right to vote and have a say in their country’s leadership, the right to pursue the same career paths as men, and fundamentally, the right to make intimate choices about their reproductive health and bodily autonomy. People of color have faced these battles throughout history as well, and just a few generations ago, finally won the right to choose the same schools, neighborhoods, professions, and pastimes as white citizens. As recently as 2015, LGBTQ Americans were promised legal recognition of their choice of spouse throughout the nation. The chance to shape our destinies through choice is the very root of the freedom we’re so proud of.

This is why, in 2019 and beyond, the people who lead us must also understand that preserving choice is integral to maintaining freedom. In the past two years alone, we’ve seen brazen assaults on women’s reproductive choices and protections for LGBTQ people in the workplace and society. We’ve seen attempts to disenfranchise voters, especially those who are lower income or people of color. And we’ve seen these things happen even when they don’t align with
the opinions of the majority of Americans. Our politicians are charged with protecting our vital freedom of choice, and yet, when we aren’t clear about our priorities as voters, our leaders can become the very people stifling it.

We can never take for granted the importance of having choice. When choices are limited for women, LGBTQ citizens, citizens of color, or anyone else in this country, our collective freedom is at risk. At MI List, we help Democratic, pro-choice candidates get elected to offices throughout Michigan. We believe that the freedom to direct our own futures is the cornerstone of progress and of our democracy. And we believe that, with the support of voters, candidates, and legislators, we can change the world for the better.

Photo Credit: Josh Johnson for Unsplash