Conservative commentators and tea party activists distort the idea of freedom.
With all this jabber about libertarianism and the Federal government trying to usurp our freedom, Sam Adams must be spinning in his grave. The Sons of Liberty had nothing to do with privileged white men upset because their candidate didn’t win. Libertarians say they should be able to do whatever they want unless it hurts someone else. Except they tend to forget that last part. Sam Adams and the other Sons of Liberty were not opposed to all taxes, only those that were forced on them by a distant government that would not allow them any say in the matter. Modern tea baggers seem to oppose all taxes. After the bridge collapse in Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, dark horse candidate for the Republican nomination in 2012, opposed a gas tax (when prices were low) to pay for an upgrade on bridges and infrastructure. When it passed over his veto, he went after the party endorsements for the six Republicans who voted for the bill. And he’s supposed to be a moderate.
Let’s look at some traditional conservative stands and how they impact everyone‘s freedom, not just conservatives.
1. Minimum wage: Republicans oppose any increase. Tom Emmer, recent candidate for Minnesota governor, claimed bartenders, waitresses and waiters made as much as $100,000 from tips. Maybe on Mars where Emmer lives with his fat cat lawyer friends.
2. Corporate political donations: Republicans had a point when they complained about unions being able to donate to elections while they were barred. Why not outlaw union donations? Instead Scalia and friends on the Supreme Court tilted the playing field in favor of the rich. In 2010 roughly twelve percent of Americans belonged to unions and that number is decreasing every year. Unions can’t afford to compete with Texas billionaires. We are less free as a result.
3. Guns: The Constitution states that your rights end where mine begin. In other words, you can’t yell “fire!” in a crowded movie theatre. As we’ve seen in Tucson, gun fanatics risk the lives of other Americans every single day. Why would anybody need an assault rifle? Why would anybody need a clip that holds thirty-one bullets? Most Americans go through their lives without ever witnessing a violent felony and no reasonable need to own a gun. Maybe that bumper sticker that reads, “Piss off a liberal, buy a gun,” is what it’s all about, but I think it’s mostly just paranoia, that and a childish pleasure in blowing things up. The people in Tucson who were killed and hurt are just collateral damage to conservative reactionaries. In a month, Tucson will be a distant memory; the next time it happens we’ll hear the same stupid arguments about Molotov cocktails potentially accomplishing the same objective and an ambiguous Second Amendment. Anybody who’s actually read the Second Amendment has got to scratch his/her head and say, “What the hell does that mean?” The founders certainly didn’t intend for Jared Loughner to own a gun.
4. Taxes: Conservative think tank savant Grover Norquist would like to do away with income taxes by 2050. In order to do it, he wouldn’t mind bankrupting the country. The ensuing Depression wouldn’t bother Grover any because he belongs to the club. Come on Wikileaks; Let’s get those names of corporate tax dodgers with Swiss bank accounts out there now.
5. Religion: If the Christian Right ever takes power, there won’t be any freedom for the 20% of Americans who don’t claim any religion and certainly none for the two percent of us who are agnostics and atheists, not to mention Jews, Moslems, Buddhists etc. The last time we had a theocracy in this country (1620 at Massachusetts Bay Colony, unless you count the Mormons) it took only seventy years before they started hanging innocent women for witchcraft (1694 in Salem). When they finally realized the error of their ways, they blamed it on the devil.
6. Propaganda: It’s getting harder and harder to find out exactly what’s happening in the world without a healthy dose of bullshit. During the Bush administration a conservative columnist was paid to push Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program. He got caught. But why would you pay a conservative columnist in the first place? Just tell them what to say. One of the most populous states in the union, Texas, now has a board of education that is rewriting history. For one thing, they claim that some of the slaves fought for the Confederacy. Sure some slaves made it to the battlefield, but they were holding their masters’ horses. For some reason textbook publishers look to Texas as a guideline for what should go into textbooks across the entire nation, which might be one reason evolution isn’t clearly explained in science textbooks and a large minority think it’s just a theory (as in the Theory of electro-magnetism). Do I need to mention Fox News, the “fair and balanced network”? On what universe? No, you’re not free if you’re denied reliable information.
7. Gay rights. The Constitution that tea baggers are so fond of (until it disagrees with them) says “All men are created equal.” It doesn’t say, “All men are created equal, except for gays.” Various experts claim that anywhere for five to twelve percent of Americans are gay. That’s like thirty million people. Also less than fifty percent of Americans are “traditional” families with mom and dad and a couple of kids. Denying gays the right to marry is not protecting the family; it’s already changed.
8. Women: Why some women vote Republican is beyond me. Check out “Scary Gary” North. He’s an evangelical conservative activist who has no problem with stoning as a punishment for adultery (Guess who gets stoned). Tim LaHaye, author of the LEFT BEHIND series, opposes Day Care. It’s not all about small government and taxes. LaHaye finances about a half dozen conservative think tanks. He’s a Republican mover and shaker few people know about.
9. Unions. Without unions the American middle class would not be what it is today. Myopic conservatives only see the contributions and volunteers unions provide to the democratic party. Teabaggers are livid that the auto makers received a bailout, but if General Motors had gone down, it would have meant thousands of people out of work. Teabaggers don’t care. Auto workers don’t wear a tricorner hat and spit on congressmen. These days Governor Chris “God my butt is huge” Christie of New Jersey is trying to destroy the tenure system and pensions for public employees, mainly teachers. Don’t kid yourself. It’s not so much about money. It’s another chance to bring down a powerful union. Of course you’d also kill free public education as we know it because nobody would want to be a teacher. Perhaps everybody could home school (and brainwash) their kids or send them to a posh private school at a couple of thousand a semester.
10. The Constitution: Antonin Scalia’s Originalist idea has finally made its mark on mainstream conservativism, which tells me there were some Think Tank (what an oxymoron) bigwigs behind the Teabagger demonstrations. Your typical Teabagger wouldn’t know an Originalist from a polygamist. As a matter of fact, I’ll bet some of them are polygamists. Scalia wants us to remain true to 1791 Constitutional intentions. Dick Armey would have us all read the Federalist Papers, despite the fact that he’s never read them himself. The Federalist Papers were primarily written by FEDERALIST Alexander Hamilton, originator of the National Bank, which wasn’t mentioned in the Constitution. Neither was the Louisiana Purchase or the purchase of Alaska. Want to give back all that land? Of course social security and Medicare weren’t mentioned either, yet some tea baggers were irate that Obama was trying to take them away from them. There’s a general clause in the Constitution that gives the Federal government leeway to do whatever is necessary for the general good. The Federal government holds sway over state governments, no matter how much you hear about secession and nullification from sore losers who want to fight that battle all over again. Scalia is so regressive he walks backwards. And now he's giving speeches
at Conservative conferences hosted while Justice Kagan recuses herself on any case that may be deemed prejudicial because she worked in the Obama administration.