A Return to Ideological Competition: Western Liberal Values or Totalitarianism

VOC’s Eric Patterson and Ken Pope argue that the United States is locked in a new Cold War-style ideological struggle with our adversaries — authoritarianism and communism versus the Western liberal order — and that we need to catch up, in Providence Magazine.

As Patterson and Pope write, President Biden’s 2024 State of the Union speech addressed one of the great flashpoints of our times regarding Russia and its neighbors.  But the speech fell short in articulating the war of ideas that lie at the heart of Russia’s aggression, China’s belligerence, and the assault on freedom by Leftist regimes in our own hemisphere.

Many were surprised when President Biden invoked Ronald Reagan: “It wasn’t that long ago when a Republican President, Ronald Reagan, thundered, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’” Biden was calling for steadfastness in the Western alliance supporting Ukraine against Russian imperial aims.

But Biden’s speech lacked recognition of the ideological nature of America’s greatest foreign policy challenges.  In that same June 12, 1987 speech where Reagan called for the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, he differentiated the models of freedom and totalitarianism:

Perhaps this gets to the root of the matter, to the most fundamental distinction of all between East and West. The totalitarian world produces backwardness because it does such violence to the spirit, thwarting the human impulse to create, to enjoy, to worship. The totalitarian world finds even symbols of love and of worship an affront. 

Sadly, nothing in the State of the Union pointed to the eerily similar challenges we face today. 

Read the full article in Providence Magazine.