Do Americans even want liberty?
As Americans, our civil liberties are often in a perilous position.
Encroached on every side from every partisan and corporation, with their only shelter being a pesky document called the constitution. Not that this document is always respected when it comes time for the highest courts in the land to weigh in on the matter. They have no real allies, with everyone from so called small government conservatives to the in name only “American Civil Liberties Union” ready and willing to forego it all in the name of ideological hegemony.
From the halls of Washington and in state houses around the country, Bismarck in particular, both sides of the aisle have made it clear they are ready and willing to police your speech, constrain your agency, and close the door on egalitarianism one way or the other.
We have Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and her Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023, which doesn’t take a single sentence to define exactly what “white supremacy” and “hate speech” even are. The definition of these things apparently is at the discretion of authorities on a case-by-case basis, and there are no guardrails within it to prevent malicious application of the legislation.
We can take heart that the Republican majority in the House will hold this indefensible bill back from landing in front of our resident geriatric at the Resolute Desk, who would no doubt sign it in a heartbeat. He is the same guy who thinks you should only be able to cook your food or heat your home with electricity for some reason. For all their bluster, the Republicans can’t be trusted to support civil liberties for more than two seconds before they start swiping themselves.
We don’t have to look any further than our own backyard to see what a Grand Old Party supermajority can accomplish. The current session is replete with bills declaring what books and pronouns are allowed in schools, citizenship checks to vote, but it’s all topped off with a proposal forcing all public meetings to begin with the Pledge of Allegiance. There’s very little standing in the way of some of these bills, bolstered as they are by a voting majority rejecting a great deal of the progressive pablum taken as gospel in the more metropolitan segments of the country.
It really amazing how one side can clearly identify and oppose encroachments on our civil liberties in one respect, while wholly rationalizing employing every odious constraint they can conceive for their ideological opposite on a separate issue.
The most obvious example we’ve experienced in recent history is the divide over the concept of individual autonomy. “My body, my choice” at its most basic. Your garden variety right winger is probably opposed to the practice of abortion, whatever their reasons are, while the bog-standard liberal is most likely the one marching down a street with that slogan on a sign. For some reason these two strawmen switch sides on the issue when it concerns COVID-19 vaccines. Both agree that the government should be able to grind you into a pulp if you disagree with them though.
This ultimately lays bare the dissonance in the two ideological wings of American politics. They shrink from their supposedly strongly held beliefs and principles if it’s convenient or expedient while prescribing every ugly authoritarian inclination the worst of us may have.
I guess I’m just coming to terms with why America is rapidly resembling a police state. Rather than rendering heaven on Earth, we’re just building a hell for everyone. With the vision at work in the halls where our laws are written, I don’t see this trajectory changing anytime soon.