Let’s talk about freedom and the choice between ‘normal or crazy’

Anyone else who listened to the Republican response to the State of the Union address feeling a little like you’d been dropped into some sort of bizarre Opposite Land?

The response, delivered by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, seemed rife with obvious examples of projection and gaslighting. Though one statement, above all, rang loudest in its unintended universal truth: “The dividing line in America is no longer between left or right. The choice is between normal or crazy.”

“The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left. The choice is between normal or crazy.”

— Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR)

Uh, yep. This is exactly what we’ve been saying the whole time. Normal to the left, crazy to the right.

I doubt she had any idea just how on the head she hit that nail. Obviously, in the delusion of Republican grandeur, Sanders is proposing that the radical ideas and actions of today’s Republican party are the “normal.” Sure they are, in Opposite Land, but here in reality, not so much!

So let’s talk about it.

Claim: “…Biden and the Democrats have failed you.”

Sanders cites out-of-control inflation and violent crime, a dangerous border crisis, and threat from China as examples of the ways they’ve failed us. The inflation situation is a multi-factor issue. Biden and the Democrats did not cause it. In fact, they’ve been doing as much as they could to curtail it.

Inflation has been surging worldwide. It is not just a problem in the United States.

Let’s start with the pandemic, which saw fewer people working; reduced overall demand for, and production of, oil; and decreased consumer demand for services while increasing their demand for goods. Fewer people working meant fewer people making and delivering goods.

Lockdowns and travel restrictions were implemented worldwide, impacting global shipping and shifting the focus of operations from general trade to delivery of essential provisions like medical supplies and food.

So we’ve got people at home wanting goods to occupy their time and a world-at-large doing its best to fill essential needs first. Rarity of goods increases value and prices start rising.

Then just as the world begins to recover from the global impact of the pandemic, Russia flexes its muscle and wages war on Ukraine, further disrupting the flow of goods and materials worldwide. Ukraine’s main exports are things like steel, coal, fuel and petroleum products, along with grains like barley, corn and wheat. Russia controls a huge chunk of the entire world’s natural gas exports, along with a good bit of coal and crude oil exports. Energy prices start rising. Food prices start rising. All the prices start rising.

Throw in a bit of that good ol’ American corporate greed, under the assumption that Americans have an excess of cash squirreled away from any combination of pandemic stimulus payments, beefed up pandemic unemployment benefits, and the perceived cost-savings of working from home and, well, here we are.

Republicans want people to believe it’s all because of Biden and the Democrats. That’s crazy.

Violent crimes have generally been trending downward since the 90s. Active shooter incidents are trending UPWARD.

The idea that the political party staunchly opposing assault weapon bans (and largely opposing most common sense gun control efforts) is going to cite “out-of-control” violent crime as a way the Democrats are failing us is the epitome of Are you for real right now?—it blows my mind.

Again, crazy.

Claim: “…government exists not to rule the people, but to serve the people.”

Oh, okay. I agree, the government’s purpose is to serve the people, not rule the people. If my memory of history serves me correctly, ruling went out when we broke free from the monarchy way back in 1776.

That’s why it’s so hard to understand how Sanders can make this statement. Even more perplexing is when she had the audacity to say “I’m for freedom” with a straight face. Par for the course for someone in the Republican party these days, I guess: just keep lying and hoping the base keeps believing.

“I’m for freedom. He’s [Biden’s] for government control.”

— Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR)

They don’t want freedom for you. The top of the Republican party wants freedom for themselves and for their corporate sponsors. They want to rape, pillage, and plunder the earth and work you to death under their rule and for their benefit.

Pay attention to what’s going on behind the curtain. Today’s Republican party is a well-oiled propaganda machine skilled in slights of hand.

They want to dictate exactly what women can and cannot do with their own bodies. They want to tell us what books we can and cannot read. [For an incredibly comprehensive look at this, check out: Banned in the USA: The Growing Movement to Censor Books in Schools.] They want to dictate what schools can and cannot teach about race, American history and LGBTQ+ issues. They want to tell us who we can and cannot love and who we can and cannot marry. They want to institute a national religion. They want you to work until you drop dead.

That sounds an awful lot like RULING people to me. It definitely doesn’t sound anything at all like serving people. Actually, you know what it really sounds like? That’s right, crazy.

Serving the people would be more like enacting regulations to make the world they live in a safer place, putting into place programs to help people live and learn and lead successful lives, enacting legislation that allows all people equal opportunities and equal protections. Essentially, things that many Democrats try to do (when Republicans aren’t blocking them at every turn).

Claim: Surrendered to a “…woke mob…” and “…hijacked by the radical left.”

What is she talking about, seriously? These are buzzwords/phrases intended to rile up their base. No one knows exactly what they mean, but they know they sound scary enough to want to push back against, because uncertainty is scary, and change is scary.

The Republicans keep tossing these words and phrases around because they know it gets them what they want. It keeps people fighting to maintain the status quo because it’s what they’re used to, it’s familiar–they already know how it works and what kind of life it will afford them–and they are convinced by the lies and spin of the party that it is the best way to live and the only way it can be. Anything else is just wrong.

“His [Biden’s] administration has been completely hijacked by the radical left.”

— Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR)

Except that it’s not. What is wrong is stringing people along just to keep taking advantage of them. It’s more than wrong, it’s kind of, well, crazy!

The Republican party wants people to want to maintain things as they are because it’s what benefits the leaders of the parties and the corporations, not because it’s the best for the collective people. The Republican party wants people to believe that anything else will ultimately make their lives worse. And they want this because they themselves are threatened; because the sort of changes the “woke left” is fighting for are the kind that will hold corporations and big donors and the top tiers of the Republican party accountable, and in doing so, make each and everyone else’s lives better.

I can’t seem to stress this enough: Republicans and corporations only want better for themselves. They want to take and take and take until there is nothing left. They don’t care about most people at all. Once they’ve drained you of every ounce of life’s essence, they’ll move on to your children, and then your children’s children–all the while convincing you they are giving you the best shot at living the colloquial American Dream.

So-called ‘woke’ people are fighting for a better life for all of us and for all generations to come.

Break it down a little. “Woke” long before being radicalized by Republicans was simply the past tense of “wake,” as in: “I woke from a peaceful night’s sleep.” It doesn’t get much more benign than that.

In modern times, “woke” has become a term referring to people who are “aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice)”.

So, “woke” people are people who are not asleep. People who care about the world around them, pay attention to people’s struggles beyond their own, try to be considerate and supportive, and who basically want to help each other by striving to support the work and policies necessary to make the world a safer, better place for everyone.

There’s nothing bad about any of that, at all. In fact, it’s a good thing. It’s a positive thing. It’s a forward-thinking thing. No one wants to leave you out or leave you behind–they want you to come along so we can all work together and lift each other up!

Claim: “Most Americans simply want to live their lives in freedom and peace…”

Why yes, they certainly do! Especially as opposed to say, living in fear for their lives for any of a number of reasons including, but not limited to: who they are, the color of their skin, where they live, their religion or lack thereof, their sexual orientation, their gender identity….

It seems the concept of freedom and its application can get a little bit dicey at times.

In a society where interests conflict I realize there can be no absolutes. My freedom to swing my arm ends where the other fellow’s nose begins.

— Arthur Garfield Hays, Democracy Works, 1939

We all want to enjoy the freedoms afforded to us, but we each also have a responsibility to understand that none of us are truly free if all of us are not free; and all of us are not free if any of us are imposing our personal beliefs upon the lives of others.

Our personal freedom–our constitutionally-granted freedoms–are only ours until such point as they encounter another. Essentially, “your rights end where mine begin.”

And it is the understanding and acceptance of that premise that can lead us down a path of living peaceably together. Recalling that we’ve ALL been granted the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, how is it that any of one of us–or any group of us–can presume their rights are more important than anyone else’s rights to the same?

We don’t have to approve of each other, and we don’t even necessarily have to like each other, but we do all have to live together.

And that means respecting each other regardless of our differences. We respect each other simply because we each deserve the right to live our lives in freedom and peace and because each and every single one of us—regardless of anything and everything else—is a living, breathing, feeling human being just as entitled to the same constitutional freedoms and pursuit of happiness as is every other person.

What’s crazy, is the fear-fueled, hate-filled trajectory we’re currently on. Living together in harmony, respecting each other’s differences, and letting everyone simply live their truth is the only realistic path forward to everyone being able to live their lives in any semblance of freedom and peace.

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A. Voice

A. Voice is a freelance writer and amateur political enthusiast. She is passionate about motivating people to exercise their voting power toward affecting the changes needed to make this world a cleaner, safer, more equitable place for all.

Her educational background includes a BA in Communication and a lifetime of informal, self-directed study across a wide range of subject areas.

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