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Mar. 1 2010 - 5:00 pm | 3,454 views | 3 recommendations | 4 comments

‘Freedom’ and Faux Populism

"Republican Party Elephant" logo

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The trick to great rhetoric is to pick a word or phrase everyone likes and no one can possibly be against. Then take that expression and be completely for it daring anyone to challenge you.

President Barack Obama campaigned for “change.” Change was such a good platform after eight years of George W. Bush that Senator John McCain decided it was his slogan too. Abandoning McCain’s initial “Country First” creed he went with “Change is Coming” as he was marching toward the end of his campaign back to his senate seat. And who would have guessed, both placards were right: change did happen.

The vague word currently co-opted by Republicans as oratory ammo is “freedom.” Republicans love freedom and its generous overuse. “It’s clear Democrats have irreconcilable differences with Americans on health care. Dems want more government, Americans want more freedom,” tweeted Junior Senator Jim DeMint about the Health Care Summit he was not invited to. Dems hate freedom, dude.

Minority leader, Rep. John Boehner last November declared, “I came here to fight big-government monstrosities like this bill that dim the light of freedom.” Insert Orange Glo joke here. The GOP has gone so far as to try and push their Health Care Freedom Plan, calling the 1993 Republican idea of mandatory coverage, now being discussed by the Democrats, unconstitutional.

Because if the Democrats agree with it, then it’s not freedom.

More proof “freedom” and its concept is becoming just an empty buzzword. Sarah Palin is for it. She told Sean Hannity on Fox News after the Health Care Summit, “I’m such a believer in freedom and that’s what the tea parties are all about.”

What are they about? Everything American: freedom. You disagree with them, you disagree with freedom. They’re against things and those things naturally are against freedom, the thing they’re for.

You know who’s against freedom? Anyone they put on a First Amendment protected picket sign.

What does “freedom” mean when Republicans say it? During the marathon C-SPAN filmed Health Care Summit at the Blair House last week, Rep. Paul Ryan (endorsed by Dick Armey’s business boon FreedomWorks) summed up the bait and switch behind the watchword best, “We don’t think the government should be in control of all of this. We want people to be in control.” Of course, the Grand Old Party’s founding father, Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg address described our Union as, “a government of the people, by the people, for the people.” But now according to Ryan it shouldn’t be in control, but the people should?

The equivalent would be, “I don’t want to live in Iowa, I only want to live in Des Moines, that’s why we don’t agree.”

Really when freedom is invoked by the GOP it means liberty for corporations. Its big government getting out of the way so big business can step up. The GOP wants Chevron, Haliburton and United Health Care to have more independence – not the Joe Everyman, Six-Pack or Plumber they try to appeal to.

The opposite of freedom is not government. The opposite of freedom is not regulations for business. The opposite of freedom is not health care reform. Just like the opposite of freedom is not having laws and a police force.

The real opposite of freedom, freedom for voters, consumers and the actual “we the people,” is being fleeced. The opposite of freedom is being gouged by your credit card, denied by your health insurance and pick pocketed by your bank. The opposite of freedom is being a Wal-Mart sharecropper and a Payday Loan serf. The opposite of freedom is being blackmailed by companies that are “too big to fail.”

Yes, America is the land of the free…and since the GOP had their way for eight years, it now comes with interest.


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  1. collapse expand

    Suddenly I’m hungry for some Freedom Fries. Freedom and ketchup mixed together…yummmm.

  2. collapse expand

    RE:Yes, America is the land of the free

    Tell that to obama who wants to put us in jail for not buying obamacare insruance from ….him

  3. collapse expand

    I agree, Tina. There is an Orwellian perversion of language going on in our politics, and the Republican Party has been particularly adept at this subterfuge for years. For example, they hire someone like Frank Luntz to simply help them spin an issue. The actual question of which public policy might be best for the people in this country is of no concern, they are only focused on how to sell their preconceived and noxious ideas to the unwitting and gullible portion of our population, and for this job they hire a propagandist like Luntz. It’s disgusting, and we’re circling the drain because enough people continue to fall for these ploys. For instance, as soon as they started calling the Estate Tax the “Death Tax,” people switched sides and went along with a bad idea, just because these guys figured out how to sugarcoat it.

    The say you get the government you deserve, and, unfortunate for us, it is true. Until enough people wake up and learn to think for themselves, we will all continue to suffer under these duplicitous spinmeisters.

    Just to be clear, I don’t consider Democrats saints by any stretch. I find them almost equally disgusting.

  4. collapse expand

    Should include mention of Rep Trent Franks of Arizona. He recently stated that blacks were better off under slavery than they are today.

    Gee… isn’t slavery the opposite of Freedom? But a Republican thinks slavery is much better than freedom, at least for some people.

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    About Me

    I was born in a religious group so fringe it makes normal cult apologists shudder. I've rebelled by not having an alias, paying taxes and embracing science.

    I'm trying to destroy everything my parents worked so hard for.

    Currently, I'm an award-winning writer, freelance investigative journalist and a classically trained stand-up comedian. I've written for Fast Company, LA Times, LA Weekly and Newsday among others.

    I'm working on my first book, which I am told, is just a long form of Twitter.

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