Right Wing “Liberty” in the USA
NOTE – This article is based upon my “Differing Definitions of Liberty” article -- NOTE
With the numerous definitions of liberty comes the inevitable conflict between opposing ideologies inside of a single system when defining what is guaranteed under the guise of a liberated society. In the United States we have a centrist Democratic Party and an extreme right wing regressive Republican Party as the two dominant powers in mainstream politics. Outside of mainstream politics, there are numerous groups that have a huge spectrum of ideals, ranging between the progressive 99% Movement and the extreme right wing Tea Party.
The current Republican Party is populated virtually entirely by a mixture of extreme right wing regressive and hyper-religious right wing Christians; their ideology is a mixture of regressive economic policy (lower taxes, fewer regulations, fewer social programs) and religiously justified social policy (anti-abortion anti-gay marriage). Economically, the right wing proposes massive tax cuts for the rich and corporations while cutting social spending under the belief that “prosperity will trickle down”. In addition to tax cuts, the right wing has remained true to its ideology of deregulation in order to improve the “liberty” businesses to operate without intervention. In order to pay for the reduction of taxes, the right wing has proposed massive austerity measures, ranging from shutting down NPR, to increasing the eligibility age for Social Security recipients.
When looked at through the lens of “liberty”, the Republicans are promoting a hard line, regressive model for the economic policy of the USA. The “liberty” that the Republicans promote in the USA is the liberty for the rich to pay less into the support for those who are less fortunate; the “liberty” for industry to pollute and abuse workers indiscriminately; the “liberty” for the poor to be “ruggedly individualistic” and live without quality education, social programs or support from the government (until untreated cancer brought about by “liberated” industry kill them, of course.). As is consistent with the classic right wing ideology, everybody is expected to take care of themselves and “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” in order to advance in society.
If I am not making myself clear enough: I believe that the policy suggested by the Republicans in recent years is extremist, dangerous to the country, and based upon flawed facts. In order to help the rich, who are doing well already, through tax breaks, we are weakening the social programs in our country to the point where the next generation will suffer. Educational and health programs are being cut for the poor during the austerity measures, thus the next generation will be woefully unhealthy by international standards. By removing environmental regulations, industry can produce more goods, cheaper, but the price for this prosperity is the negative externality of cancer, smog, and polluted water for the general population; when the right wing argues that industry is constrained by regulations, they are actually stating a fact, but they don’t mention that those same regulations protect the population of the USA. Lead paint, while toxic, is cheap and easy to produce, thus it was used in buildings up until the time regulations were put into place to stop this practice. The future that the Republicans offer the country is one where a small minority of rich citizens wants for nothing, while the rest of us exist in a toxic and impoverished country.
Breaking from the traditional right wing “small government” model, the Republicans have suggested a series of Christian faith based policies in social policy. The right wing ideal of “liberty” would suggest that individual social rights would be up to the individual and not appropriate for government intervention. Unfortunately, the right wing in the USA is not just regressive, but also heavily religious and thus they support Christian influence in laws. It is important to note that not all Republicans support Christian social policy (Ex. Ron Paul), but as a party, they are heavily in favor of such social policy. The Republican Party is heavily against all advances in gay rights, including fighting gay marriage and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, as well as abortion rights for women. Under their own definition of “liberty”, the right wing is attempting to limit the “liberty” of a certain segment of the population, through “big government regulations”, in order to regulate the social lives of individuals.
To put the schism between the small government and big religion ideals of the Republicans into perspective, we can look at the gay marriage and gun control fights inside of American politics. In both social policy situations, the states are attempting to create laws in order to regulate the conduct of citizens living within their borders. In reference to gay marriage, the right wing is unwilling to let states decide whether or not it is allowed within their borders; this argument is not a right wing argument as it supports the government’s intervention into the individual’s life. On the gun control argument, the right wing holds the right to carry anything up to an assault rifle to be constitutionally protected and thus the states can make laws for their citizens without federal intervention; this is a right wing argument for gun control, as the government is allowing citizens to act independent of government regulations despite potential for abuse. The two situations are identical in terms of the problem posed: Does the federal government have the right to regulate personal choices of citizens? Yet, the right wing is inconsistent in its answer to this question. The inconsistency in the answers on these two issues is due to religion superseding right wing “liberty” ideology within the Republican.