Republicans cornering the market on freedom and oppression | TheHill – The Hill

Freedom is good policy and good politics,saidSen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll: Americans favor diplomatic engagement with Cuba Republicans cornering the market on freedom and oppression As Biden falters, a two-man race for the 2024 GOP nomination begins to take shape MORE (R-Texas) this week while addressing the supposed threat of mask mandates that might otherwise stem the spread of COVID.In recent decades, Republicans have been adept at latching onto issues that can be construed as both good policy and good politics.Because often the two are intertwined.If you can sell the public on a policy regardless of whether its inherently good then you have achieved both aims.

On style, the modern-day GOPs personal freedom movement can be traced back, in part, to the supposedly good policy / good politics family values movement, which reached its apex more than a generation ago, but which is still very much with us.

Both fight on puritanical grounds.

Family values is code for an imagined 1950s TV-style Christian morality when people didnt cheat on spouses, when no one was gay, and when certain people knew their place and knew better not to challenge canonical hierarchies.This crusade of rightness leaves no wiggle room for nuance or differing opinions. Absolutism is the key to absolution.

Similarly, todays personal freedom movement is code for Make America Great Again.Advocates seek to restore Americas revolutionary spirit.If you oppose freedom, you support tyranny.There is no wiggle room for nuance or differing opinions.American and God-given rights are intertwined and inalienable.

On substance, however, these two movements reside on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.

Family values proponents seek societal control.Individual responsibility is irrelevant. Plenty of their members fall short of their moral standards.That doesnt matter.The government must do more to curb the scourge of rap music.Politicians must enact laws to discourage out-of-wedlock births.Guns on the street are sanctified, while fake guns in video games are satanic.The nation must capitulate to the most just among us, as defined by the most just within the movement.The political power they have wielded is as impressive as it is oppressive.

But personal freedom fighters in the COVID era believe individual opinions regardless of their truth matter more than those of experts, of politicians, or of the dying lying in hospital beds.All levels of government constitute the swamp.Dont tread on me has devolved into No more rules.It is the antithesis of the state control sought by family values.It is instead a battle against society against the essential frameworks on which civilizations are built.This is a point of anarchical pride for the personal freedom brigade, because it doesnt matter who gets hurt, as long as its not them.

Of course, many of the family values and personal freedom advocates are thesame people.

They just wear different hats on different days and for some, in different eras.

The family values contingent has splintered in recent years on a number of topics, such as drug legalization and gay marriage.Their embrace of one of the most ethically flawed presidents in generations diminished the movement further. This is not a joyous time for a group with declining membership and influence.

So it should be no surprise that from the gathering ashes of family values, a new cause has arisen.Not that personal freedom is new, but rarely has it been tested under such hostile conditions, as the worst global pandemic in a century ispoisedto become the worst in our countrys history.

Historically, America would rally to defend itself.Personal safety would be sacred.Loving thy neighbor would be second nature.

But for the family values crowd, theres no political benefit to that approach.Instead, a 180-degree ideological turn marked the easiest path for maintaining political relevance.Better to be on the wrong side with millions of people who adore you, than to be on the right side with millions of people who dont.

We are left with two diametrically opposed movements led by the same political party.

Family values surfaced to combat personal freedoms.Personal freedom surfaced to upend family values.They dont agree on much, and for a party seeking to win over a majority of the electorate, thats the point.

B.J. Rudell is a longtime political strategist, former associate director for Duke Universitys Center for Politics, and recent North Carolina Democratic Party operative. In a career encompassing stints on Capitol Hill, on presidential campaigns, in a newsroom, in classrooms, and for a consulting firm, he has authored three books and has shared political insights across all media platforms, including for CNN and Fox News.

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Republicans cornering the market on freedom and oppression | TheHill - The Hill

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