Column By John Young
In a propagandist’s bag of tricks, analysts call the “glittering generality” the easiest to deploy.
“Family values.” “Real America.” “Patriots.” “Pro-life.”
No propaganda term is abused by the “family values” crowd, however, like “freedom.”
Exhibit A: National embarrassments Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Lauren Boebert named their cuckoo klatch the Freedom Caucus. Yeah.
Republicans long have co-opted “freedom” to sanctify their designs. But listen to Democrat Josh Shapiro after winning the Pennsylvania governor’s race:
“Opportunity won. A woman’s right to choose won. Your right to vote won.”
“In the face of all the lies and conspiracies and baseless claims,” he said, “truth won.”
“And you know what else won tonight? Real freedom won.”
Real freedom? Let’s hear newly re-elected Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, his own comments peppered with the GOP’s favorite word:
“Freedom to love who you love, freedom to choose your own family’s future. In Colorado, your choices belong to you, and no one else.”
Freedom. Where to begin?
For the longest time, Republicans have fought to prevent a break-out of real freedom.
The first time I realized the essence of this sorry quest was in the contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Robert Bork in 1987.
Bork asserted the 14th Amendment’s “liberty” clause could not be construed as conveying a right to privacy.
Republicans who generally would give lip service to people’s privacy veritably whipped out glow sticks and swayed like concert-goers.
Bork also said equal protection in the 14th applied to emancipated slaves alone, not women, LGBTQ, or any other strain of humanity.
Ah, a Republican dream date.
Alas, a Democrat-majority Senate sent Bork back to his musty law library.
Fast-forward to today, and the Supreme Court is dominated by a bunch of Borks.
They took away a constitutional right backed by a half-century of precedent.
At least one member of this court has said he wants to reinstate states’ right to ban birth control and gay marriage.
More freedoms in danger:
No freedom is as fundamental as the right to vote. The Republican Party gives lip service to that, too, but not if shaving away a freedom that will give the party an edge on Election Day.
Hence, vote suppression is its obsession, focused intently on minorities, young voters, and racially diverse urban centers – and, since Donald Trump’s comeuppance in 2020, driven entirely by the Big Lie.
More scandalous is racially contrived gerrymandering, which essentially wipes out the principle of one person, one vote. A person’s vote isn’t equal when roped into a district a politician draws to make himself invulnerable.
This court appears ready to lift any safeguards at all against gerrymandering, further eviscerating the Voting Rights Act.
How many rights will Republicans yank from the people of this land? It depends on the people.
Reproductive rights were a chief concern driving a stunningly high turnout on Nov. 8 among young Americans.
They are appalled by the thought of the government taking control of women’s bodies, as is the case in red state after red state.
Democrats capitalized on, as MSNBC’s Joy Reid characterized it, a “freedom vs. chattel argument.”
Young Americans know as well that gay marriage is in jeopardy with this court as well as any and all of the rights and privileges of gay, lesbian and transgender people.
This is a good time to point out that when the Colorado governor thanked his supporters, he turned to embrace his husband, Marlon Reis, with whom he is raising two children. I’m thinking they will vote Democrat.
The Republicans will rue the day the Supreme Court sided with Robert Bork and tossed a constitutional right out the window.
Whatever resonance it had before from Republicans, “freedom” really clangs today as a GOP throw-away line.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email him at email@example.com.
The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.