A common theme of conservatives in America today is freedom. The Tea Party subset of the conservative movement is all about freedom. In fact, if you pay close attention to what the Tea conservatives say, it's as if this generation of conservatism has invented freedom.
Freedom means a lot of things to a lot of people. So, at first, when Tea Party members were rallying with teabags hanging down in their faces and dressing up in 18th century clothing with those patriotic tri-corner hats.....it was a bit difficult to understand what these conservatives meant when they talked so often about freedom.
Now, however, I think we have at least a preliminary understanding of what conservatives mean when they speak so often of freedom and liberty.
1) Freedom means the ability to stop portions of the electorate from voting. This may seem like an odd definition of freedom.....but it can not be argued that red states have worked feverishly over the last 2 years to pass vote suppression ID laws. ID laws which, it is said, are solutions to a voter fraud problem that is non-existent.
Even though the Constitution spells out every citizen's guaranteed right to cast a vote.....today's conservatives and Tea Party members claim freedom is on the line if they can't game the voting system by trimming Democratic-leaning voters from the voter rolls....which is the real reason for voter ID laws. In addition, today's conservative members, no doubt in advance of freedom, have also conspired in red states to cut back on early voting. To conservatives and Teas, we are more free as a people if fewer people vote....especially if those fewer voters lean Democratic.
So...freedom, defined by conservative actions, means using the legislative system to deny people the right to vote.
2) Freedom, to today's conservatives, means the freedom of very wealthy citizens to never pay an additional dime in taxes. Tax rates on the wealthiest Americans have been reduced from 90% to 35% over the last 50 years. This, concurrently, has helped spike the income disparity we see in every economic chart. Capital gains and dividend tax rates, estate tax rates, and income tax rates have never been lower in my lifetime.
But apparently, that's not quite enough freedom for America's wealthiest. Today's conservatives, as witnessed in (at least) two House GOP votes, argue that if our nation's wealthiest pay one cent more in taxes, then we are not a free people. Elected conservatives have rejected, wholesale, any compromise legislation which would increase taxes on the top 1%......mind you, this is at a time of record deficits and debt.
3) Freedom to today's conservatives means diminishing and/or eliminating a woman's legal right to choose. That is what freedom means to the conservative movement. How do I know this? The record number of red state bills passed just in the last 18 months to hassle women seeking to exercise their legal right.
This new and improved conservative freedom includes, in some cases, orders to carry out doctor-rape with sonogram wands against the wishes of women exercising their legal right to choose.
These freedom laws for women are part of the new Tea Party-charged conservative movement. I know this because of the spike in these new freedom laws immediately following the 2010 midterms. All passed by conservative/GOP/Tea-controlled legislatures and signed by GOP governors.
4) What freedom means for today's conservatives also includes working to reduce your average neighbor's income. This specific freedom is a corollary of number 2. In order for freedom number 2 to be expanded, the conservative movement has decided that fellow average American workers, teachers, road crew workers, police, etc....should work for less money and fewer benefits and sacrifice their legal right to collectively bargain. Eliminating public sector worker's rights to enter into contracts with their employers is part and parcel of the conservative movement's efforts to restore freedom.
Evidence of this conservative freedom is witnessed in the numerous red state efforts to crush or eliminate public sector unions. This particular freedom kicked in during the debate over bailing out automakers in 2009. After the 2010 midterms, new red state governors and legislatures went into overdrive to take wages and work benefits from average-income workers. The often-repeated conservative slogan of "jobs, jobs, jobs" before the 2010 midterms quickly morphed into signed legislation meant to reduce the wages and benefits of those still holding down jobs in the public sector.
5) In a strange twist, today's conservatives have proven by their actions that freedom means elevating religious superstition over scientific reality. Conservatives, apparently, can only be truly free if all citizens are forced to live their lives according to ancient superstitions. Who ever thought we would have to re-fight the already-settled battle over the right to have access to, and use, contraception? But we are....thanks to the freedom efforts of today's conservative movement.
A corollary to this conservative freedom is found in the conservative movement's denial of man's contribution to global climate change. Imaginative conspiracies involving huge numbers of compromised scientists, allegedly lying en masse in order to maintain lucrative grants, is set forth as a counter to decades of climate science evidence.
Freedom, then, to today's conservatives, includes a rejection of settled science.
6) Finally for today....freedom for today's conservatives has come to mean freedom from facts. Today, we are experiencing what Karl Rove declared as the new paradigm for conservatives back in 2001...."we create reality now." In 2012, Rove's new paradigm can be seen and heard in it's maturity today from sources like Fox and Rush, and the host of "reality creating" sources in conservative media and in elected office.
Fox consumers, no doubt basking in their new freedom, have polled as the least informed, or most misinformed, group in America today.....even more so than Americans who do not even consume news.
Freedom, then, to today's conservative movement....means freedom from all threatening facts and empirical evidence.
If these freedoms don't really seem like freedoms to you, it is possible you are not a member of today's conservative movement. But make no mistake.....those 6 freedoms, plus many others unmentioned here, make up the core of today's conservative movement.
About This Blog