Not long ago, Republicans threw around the word “liberty” a lot. You would see it in their Twitter handles and in the names of affiliated organizations. You can recognize them by their Gadsden flag decal. They wanted government off our backs and the ability to act freely. They didn’t want anybody telling them what to do. Much of the party carried a strong libertarian streak.
Today, the GOP is the party that wants to tell us what we can’t do. If they don’t like something, they’ll make it illegal. That’s especially true for Republicans of the Old Confederacy. They have banned abortions after 12 weeks and inserted government into the process, imposing onerous restrictions. They’re pushing bills to prevent care for transgender people. They are telling schools and teachers what they can and cannot teach about history because we would hate to give our kids any ideas. They’re banning books in Florida and drag shows in Tennessee. This week, they’re rolling out legislation to restrict access to the ballot box. They are the party of heavy-handed government regulation, restricting our personal lives and interfering in our relationships with schools, medical professionals, and democracy.
After years of telling us that the government shouldn’t interfere with the development of new sources of carbon-based fuel like fracking and offshore drilling because we need energy independence, the party perpetually finds reasons to oppose the development of clean sources of energy. They tried to restrict solar farms but have largely given up that effort now that Duke Energy is a major player. They’re resisting wind farms for all sorts of reasons that they never cared much about in the past. They kill birds. They obscure views. They interfere with marine navigation. They’re in the flight path of naval jets. It’s almost like they believe climate change is good. Or maybe they still don’t believe it at all.
The GOP represents the new nanny state. They want to tell us what we can and can’t do. They only oppose government regulation if it protects the environment or people’s rights. They are fine with regulating the medical industry and the clean energy sector. They’re fine with government telling schools and teachers what they can teach. They are fine denying people easy access to the ballot. They are the party that adopts the Gadsden flag, telling us, “Don’t tread on me” while trampling on the rest of us. So much for liberty.