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Biden Aligns Democrats With "Freedom" As GOP Goes Into Fascism Overdrive
It's Long Past Time To Reclaim What The Right Stole
The first word in President Joe Biden’s reelection announcement video is “freedom.” Biden’s statement, “Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans,” plays against a backdrop of flag waving and demonstrators supporting voting rights, abortion rights, and transgender rights.
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This is contrasted with imagery of Trump supporters assaulting the U.S. Capitol on January 6, along with Republican book bans, attempts to cut Social Security, and attacks on transgender rights.
“Around this country, MAGA extremists are lining up to take on those bedrock freedoms,” Biden warns.
It’s the kind of framing and easy to understand contrast that Democrats have too often shied away from in the past.
The conservative movement and its Republican Party has allied itself with control, domination, and fascism for decades but we are in the eye of the storm right now. The perfect antidote and rallying cry is to embrace patriotic imagery and rhetoric, which for too long was completely given away to the right.
Biden has wonky policy and statistics on his side to make the case for reelection, including unemployment that has been cut in half, the reopening of government and business following successful COVID-19 vaccine deployment, and billions of dollars via the Rescue Plan, infrastructure law, and the Inflation Reduction Act. But while those will certainly come up between now and election day 2024, setting up the contrast between the two parties by invoking emotional stakes — the culture war — should take priority, and it is.
Conservatism isn’t about freedom. It is about control.
The right has for decades wrapped the movement to decide how women can sexually produce, how LGBTQ people can live their lives, how Black and Latino and Asian people can merely exist as supposed “freedom.” But the real freedom at play, from Ronald Reagan’s war on the safety net to George W. Bush’s Iraq war lies and attempt to privatize Social Security to Donald Trump’s bigotry towards Muslims, Blacks, and immigrants has been the freedom to hate.
In response to that, Democrats have too often worked under the false assumption that the right had natural ownership of patriotism, and the lesson learned from the backlash to the Vietnam era of protest was that the left can’t play that game.
There were bright spots along the way, like President Bill Clinton talking about “a place called hope” and President Barack Obama decrying the division of red states and blue states, but it was not a sustained drumbeat. Retreat has too often been the play of the day.
And history shows that Democrats will need to have their feet held to the fire on this. The party is by nature cautious and timid, and takes an extremely conservative approach even when the numbers and common sense are on their side.
But Biden’s reelection announcement is a good marker, a line in the sand. The idea that people should have the freedom to whatever gender identity they want, the freedom to have health care and abortion rights and a safety net, and the freedom to vote is not controversial or the 50-50 split the mainstream media would have you believe. These are popular ideas with a strong majority of Americans.
The announcement does that far too unusual thing in American politics of simply stating reality using simple language.
Those of us who advocated for this sort of thing for a long, long, long time should be happy to see it being executed at the highest levels of American politics. The finish line is too far away for a victory lap of any sort to happen right now. But this is the right direction.
For a change.
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