Monday, April 29, 2013

Richard Nixon, "What Freedom Means to Us"

Ashley Baker American People II 30 April 2013 Professor Andrew Mattson In voices of Freedom, “An Affluent Society”, Richard Nixon discusses “What Freedom Means to Us. “Overall Nixon speech and the ensuring debate reflected the triumph during the 1950s of a conception of freedom centered on economic abundance and consumer choice within context of traditional family of life”. Throughout the speech Richard Nixon is basically convincing the Soviet Union that a Capitalistic society is the best option for their nation. This was during the time of the cold war, when every nation was trying to prove that they had the best policies and government. The United States and the Soviet Union realized that they couldn’t compete in the arms race because they both have extremely powerful weapons that could be pointed against one another, so the idea of competition between the better societies seamed beneficial to both. Nixon states, “We welcome this kind of competition because when we engage in it, no one loses -- everyone wins as the living standards of people throughout the world are raised to higher levels”. In 1958 the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to display exhibits, allowing the other to become acquainted with the life of the other. In Nixon speech he congratulated the Soviet Union for a job well done with the rockets they developed, but he also lets them know that while they are ahead of us in the scientific department they are still lacking in others such as industrialization. He quotes Abraham Lincoln, "...We do not propose any war upon capital; we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else. In Nixon exhibit rest a car, radio, and a house, each of the most modern objects produced. Nixon goes on to explain the definition of rich but at the same time he is showing the Soviet Union how prosperous the United States is. He states, “In fairness we must recognize that our country industrialized sooner than the Soviet Union. He explains how almost every American can afford the objects that were represented in the exhibit. “The average weekly wage of a factory worker in America is $90-54. With this income he can buy and afford to own a house, a television set, and a car in the price range of those you will see in this Exhibit. There are 44 million families in the United States. Twenty-five million of these families live in houses or apartments that have as much or more floor space than the one you see in this Exhibit. Thirty-one million families own their own homes and the land on which they are built. America's 44 million families own a total of 56 million cars, 50 million television sets and 143 million radio sets. And they buy an average of 9 dresses and suits and 14 pairs of shoes per family per year”. As Nixon continued through his speech he gave examples of what freedom meant to them. Material progress is important but the very heart of the American ideal is that "man does not live by bread alone." To us, progress without freedom to use a common expression is like "potatoes without fat. The workers right to join with other workers in a union and to bargain collectively with management is recognized and protected by law. No man or woman in the United States can be forced to work for wages he considers to be inadequate or under conditions he believes are unsatisfactory. President Eisenhower is one of the most popular men ever to hold that high office in our country. Yet never an hour or a day goes by in which criticism of him and his policies cannot be read in our newspapers, heard on our radio and television, or in the Halls of Congress. The fact that our people can and do say anything they want about a government official, the fact that in our elections, as this voting machine in our exhibit illustrates, every voter has a free choice between those who hold public office and those who oppose them makes ours a true peoples' government. Under our Constitution no church or religion can be supported by the State. An American can either worship in the church of his choice or choose to go to no church at all if he wishes. Acting with this complete freedom of choice, 103 million of our citizens are members of 308 thousand American churches. We also cherish the freedom to travel, both within our country and outside the United States. Within our country we live and travel where we please without travel permits, internal passports or police registration. We also travel freely abroad. For example, 11 million Americans will travel to other countries during this year, including 10,000 to the Soviet Union. We look forward to the day when millions of Soviet citizens will travel to ours and other countries in this way”. Nixon concludes his speech stating, “The great majority of Americans like our system of government. Much as we like it, however, we would not impose it on anyone else. We believe that people everywhere should have a right to choose the form of government they want”. Although it seems as if the U.S was promoting capitalism in a calm matter, they were still considering themselves the superior nation and felt everyone should follow their lead. Work Cited "An Affluent Society." Voices of Freedom / a Documentary History. Ed. Richard M. Nixon. Third ed. Vol. Two. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2011. 243-48. Print.

No comments: