Freedom in the Age of Trump

The Republican party has been in favor of freedom since they defended it back in 1935 against the tyrannical onslaught of Social Security, which would deprive older people of their God-given freedom to live below the poverty level in their old age. They said it again in the early 1960s, when Medicare threatened to deprive old people of the right to be sick.

Even now, Republicans are on the front lines, defending our freedoms. For example, millions of people have been insured under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, but therein lies the problem! As Rep. Mike Burgess said, “If the numbers drop, I would say that’s a good thing because we’ve restored personal liberty in this country, and I’m always for that.” Alas, the freedom to buy (or not) unaffordable insurance has been denied — for now.

The Trump administration is rightfully worried about your freedoms, too. For example, let’s say you’re the member of a minority group. The states, although not people but theoretically representing the people who inhabit the states, have the freedom to discriminate against anyone they want to. Like gay people, who interfere with the Evangelical’s freedom to be a jerk. This is so annoying! Evangelicals shouldn’t be forced to make your gay wedding cake! Or sign your marriage license! Or treat you in any way like decently. Their freedom demands that your freedoms be curtailed, which the states are free to do. And if you’re gay or lesbian or bi or trans or anything that confuses Evangelicals, you are free to move to a state that will protect your rights. Or not. Because let’s face it: your citizenship doesn’t outweigh your potential offensiveness to people who claim to follow a loving God.

Americans are also free to be educated, and for many years this has meant the states have provided free public schooling for everyone, regardless of income, rank, ability to pay, or potential assholeishness. This free system was a really good deal for a long time, but now the Republicans are pretty sure it isn’t. Desegregation of schools, it turns out, might be oppressing the freedoms of white people who prefer to avoid black people. The freedom of the rich and powerful to ensure that their children only hobnob with similarly rich and powerful people is at risk by this public “Robin Hood” system that puts low-income students in the same room as students with high-limit credit cards. Clearly, this is a crisis of choice. Americans need the freedom to choose which schools their children attend. Some will argue that Americans already have this freedom: they can, at any time, pay to send their child to the private school of their choice. But this is not freedom enough. No, it is imperative that the government take its funds from the public schools and give it to the parents who choose to send their kids to private schools, so that the parents of the private-school kids are free to pay much less or preferably nothing at all. Because if the poor kids get federal money, then wealthy parents should be able to get the same deal, even if it means all the poor kids have to share a single textbook.

There are those on the left who complain that the “Freedom to Choose” your school thing is a scam that is actually a “Robin Hood in reverse,” basically stealing money from public education and giving it to people who don’t need it, but there is a huge flaw in that reasoning. Quite simply, Americans are also free to be uneducated. And if a poor, inner city kid can’t figure how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and beg an education from somewhere, then they have exercised that freedom to be ignorant.

The proposed Trump budget is also a big booster of freedom. It proposes slashing funding for the arts, WIC (Women, Infants, Children food supplementation), Meals on Wheels, public housing, and pretty much every program that has had a positive impact on struggling and impoverished Americans for decades. At first, that sounds really cruel. I mean, depriving women, infants, and old people of food? But then you suddenly understand: every American has the freedom to be hungry. If they choose hunger, they may decide to get off their lazy or disabled ass and do something about it. There are ditches to be dug! There are toilets to be cleaned! Or not. Hunger, too, is a valid choice. Even when you’re six months old.

Likewise, the cuts to affordable housing and section-8 vouchers function in much the same way. Everyone knows how happy the hobos of old were to be free to ride the rails and drift from place to place. Being homeless now is no different (although depending on where you live, you may not be free to sit or lay down on a sidewalk, sleep on a bench or stoop, camp in the parks or anywhere near an urban area where you might access facilities, use a restroom, or sit in a coffee shop without ordering something, or get fed by a charity or person who could get arrested for doing so). So yes, freedom to be “without a roof” is a fine thing to be encouraged, unless, of course, a politician has to step over you, in which case you are impinging on their freedom to avoid uncomfortable sights.

And lastly, with the proposed increase in military spending, high school graduates with no hope of affording college or who decline to access the freedom to be in overwhelming debt for the rest of their lives can now become soldiers in the fight to bring freedom to people who never asked for it, but who will definitely be free to be refugees at some time in the future, but not here. In short, American youth will continue to have the freedom to die for lost causes that mostly benefit the corporations of the world, particularly those who have the freedom to claim that climate change is a hoax, now please fill your gas tank. And several times a year, Americans will celebrate the freedoms our military has secured for us, and the losses they freely took, to ensure that our civilians have the freedom to be completely screwed by the people we freely chose to run our government. Amen.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain

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