Four Freedoms??? Hmmmmm … 🤔

On January 6th, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his State of the Union Address.  This speech would come to be known as the Four Freedoms Speech, for he talked at some length about the four freedoms he believed that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of worship
  • Freedom from want
  • Freedom from fear

Today, the Republican Party has its own set of ‘four freedoms’ that are not nearly so noble as were those of President Roosevelt.  New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie explains …

The Four Freedoms, According to Republicans

Jamelle Bouie

19 May 2023

On Tuesday, Republicans in North Carolina overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto to pass a strict limit on bodily autonomy in the form of a 12-week abortion ban.

In addition to this new limit on abortion, the law extends the waiting period for people seeking abortions to 72 hours and puts onerous new rules on clinics. As intended, the net effect is to limit access to abortion and other reproductive health services to everyone but those with the time and resources to seek care outside the state.

North Carolina Republicans are obviously not the only ones fighting to ban, limit or restrict the right to bodily autonomy, whether abortion or gender-affirming health care for transgender people. All across the country, Republicans have passed laws to do exactly that wherever they have the power to do so, regardless of public opinion in their states or anywhere else. The war on bodily autonomy is a critical project for nearly the entire G.O.P., pursued with dedication by Republicans from the lowliest state legislator to the party’s powerful functionaries on the Supreme Court.

You might even say that in the absence of a national leader with a coherent ideology and agenda, the actions of Republican-led states and legislatures provide the best guide to what the Republican Party wants to do and the best insight into the society it hopes to build.

I have already made note of the attack on bodily autonomy, part of a larger effort to restore traditional hierarchies of gender and sexuality. What else is on the Republican Party’s agenda, if we use those states as our guide to the party’s priorities?

There is the push to free business from the suffocating grasp of child labor laws. Republican lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio have advanced legislation to make it easier for children as young as 14 to work more hours, work without a permit and be subjected to more dangerous working conditions. The reason to loosen child labor laws — as a group of Wisconsin Republicans explained in a memo in support of a bill that would allow minors to serve alcohol at restaurants — is to deal with a shortage of low-wage workers in those states.

There are other ways to solve this problem — you could raise wages, for one — but in addition to making life easier for the midsize-capitalist class that is the material backbone of Republican politics, freeing businesses to hire underage workers for otherwise adult jobs would undermine organized labor and public education, two bêtes noires of the conservative movement.

Elsewhere in the country, Republican-led legislatures are placing harsh limits on what teachers and other educators can say in the classroom about American history or the existence of L.G.B.T.Q. people. This week in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans discussion in general education courses at public institutions of “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political and economic inequities.” He also signed a bill that prohibits state colleges and universities from spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs beyond what is necessary to retain accreditation as educational institutions.

Nationwide, Republicans in at least 18 states have passed laws or imposed bans designed to keep discussion of racial discrimination, structural inequality and other divisive concepts out of classrooms and far away from students.

Last but certainly not least is the Republican effort to make civil society a shooting gallery. Since 2003, Republicans in 25 states have introduced and passed so-called constitutional carry laws, which allow residents to have concealed weapons in public without a permit. In most of those states, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, it is also legal to openly carry a firearm in public without a permit.

Republicans have also moved aggressively to expand the scope of “stand your ground” laws, which erode the longstanding duty to retreat in favor of a right to use deadly force in the face of perceived danger. These laws, which have been cited to defend shooters in countless cases, such as George Zimmerman in 2013, are associated with a moderate increase in firearm homicide rates, according to a 2022 study published in JAMA Network Open. Republicans, however, say they are necessary.

“If someone tries to kill you, you should have the right to return fire and preserve your life,” said Representative Matt Gaetz, who introduced a national “stand your ground” bill this month. “It’s time to reaffirm in law what exists in our Constitution and in the hearts of our fellow Americans,” he added. “We must abolish the legal duty of retreat everywhere.”

It should be said as well that some Republicans want to protect gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee did just that this month — after a shooting in Nashville killed six people, including three children, in March — signing a bill that gives additional protections to the gun industry.

What should we make of all this? In his 1941 State of the Union address, Franklin Roosevelt said there was “nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy” and that he, along with the nation, looked forward to “a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.” Famously, those freedoms were the “freedom of speech and expression,” the “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way,” the “freedom from want” and the “freedom from fear.” Those freedoms were the guiding lights of his New Deal, and they remained the guiding lights of his administration through the trials of World War II.

There are, I think, four freedoms we can glean from the Republican program.

There is the freedom to control — to restrict the bodily autonomy of women and repress the existence of anyone who does not conform to traditional gender roles.

There is the freedom to exploit — to allow the owners of business and capital to weaken labor and take advantage of workers as they see fit.

There is the freedom to censor — to suppress ideas that challenge and threaten the ideologies of the ruling class.

And there is the freedom to menace — to carry weapons wherever you please, to brandish them in public, to turn the right of self-defense into a right to threaten other people.

Roosevelt’s four freedoms were the building blocks of a humane society — a social democratic aspiration for egalitarians then and now. These Republican freedoms are also building blocks not of a humane society but of a rigid and hierarchical one, in which you can either dominate or be dominated.

9 thoughts on “Four Freedoms??? Hmmmmm … 🤔

  1. Jamelle Bouie does indeed NAIL the irony spot-on between Roosevelt and today’s extremist GOP Republican, in a most disturbing way!!! 🎯 When is the moderate, reasonable, civilized American voters and activists going to WAKE UP and stand firm, stand loud, and stand tall against these depraved ideologies and tyranny!? When!!!!???

    Liked by 1 person

    • I begin to wonder, my friend, if there are any “moderate, reasonable, civilized American voters” left in this country. It seems that far too many have partaken of too much “happy juice” that has coloured their views, and they’ve traded their brains for a box of Cracker Jacks, hoping that the prize inside will be a replica of the moon! Sigh. Yes, I’m on the grumpy side this evening, but how could I not be, given the state of affairs, the “Pennywise the Clown” show in Congress that is apt to spell disaster any day now, and a nation of people who seem determined to show their ignorance, for whom the right to own a damn gun supersedes their children’s right to live. If they haven’t stood firm as yet, I somehow doubt they will until it’s already too late and they find they have sold their right to have a voice, traded their freedom of speech for … what? The excitement of catching a roll of paper towels at a Trump rally?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill, this is well conceived and written. One of the reasons I left the GOP about fifteen years ago was a tendency for the party to make things up. I saw it then with climate change naysaying and gun governance stiff-arming. Yet, it is far worse now because of its sycophancy to the former president who has a hard time with the truth and a group of the most spineless of leaders who dare not call him on the carpet. So, to gain the support of his base, the party mainstream has to accept and support a foundation of lies and curtailment of liberties that should not get the support they do.

    It truly saddens me to see how low the GOP has fallen. Our country needs a reputable conservative voice, but this party is not it right now. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Keith! Yes, I felt that Jamelle hit the nail spot on the head. In the past decade, we’ve seen what was once a viable political party, the GOP, fall into disarray and corruption. They no longer stand, really, for anything. They don’t have the interests of the nation or its people at heart, but only what can give them more power and wealth. They have, literally, stabbed their constituents in the back, but the constituents are failing to see it. This nation NEEDS two viable political parties, for one-party rule is an open invitation to corruption and autocracy, no matter which party. But today, I don’t think the GOP is up to the job. I had hoped that in a post-Trump world, the party would step back, take a good hard look at what they had become, and rebuild itself. That didn’t happen, for Trump held them hostage and they let it happen. Ronna McDaniel and every Republican politician feel in line … when Trump says, “Jump!”, they ask, “how high, your highness?” This is not the path forward … something needs to change and SOON!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Four Freedoms??? Hmmmmm … 🤔 | Filosofa’s Word | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  4. This post goes well with my two connected posts of this morning, I hope. Republican bullies are out to destroy American society, and if they can, the world itself. They think they can bring Armageddon to reality. I wish I could be there when they realize that won’t happen. Unfortunately for them, they won’t be there either to celebrate!

    Liked by 2 people

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