Civic Freedom

Ralph Nader makes a distinction between civic freedom and personal freedom. Personal freedom is being able to marry who you want, go down the street when you want, hang out with your friends when you want, etc. Civic freedom is being able to participate in power, speak your mind about the government, join together to form unions, etc.

This is a very crucial distinction that never occurred to me before. I think most people label those two different types of freedoms as just “freedom”.

Nader continues by saying that there's personal freedom in dictatorships. What the difference is between democracies and dictatorships is the right to participate in power. Luckily, we officially live in a democracy so we have more civic rights than people living in dictatorships, but it frustrates him that we don't practice them.

He poses a question. If the United States were to suddenly become a dictatorship, how would that affect the daily lives of the people? He implies that it would not affect most people's daily lives because most do not practice their civic rights.