A recent comment to one of my posts reminded me of one of the key differences between progressives and conservatives (or at least Republican conservatives) – freedom. Why is this a big difference? Does one side favor freedom while the other opposes it? Well, that’s what you might think, listening to Republicans talk.
With their words, both spoken and printed, Republicans often make the claim that their party is for “more freedom” while their opponents want “less freedom.”
But what types of freedom are favored by whom? Are all freedoms equal?
Republicans appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of one freedom, the freedom to make money without any encumbrance. So what if my factory pollutes the air? We have LOTS of air! So what if my restaurant chain serves slightly tainted meat? If people don’t like it, they won’t eat it!
The Republican Party is on a mission. It’s a mission with a cool, secret code name and everything: streamlining. They want to get those pesky regulations out of the way of corporate profits. They want “the market” to decide everything.
Meanwhile, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is trying to make it so that women have control over their own bodies. Even if that means having sex… uh oh… here it comes… hide the children… just for fun and not for the express purpose of bringing a child into the world.
Progressives want weird people like gays and blacks and organic food eaters to be treated like the human beings that they are so closely related to. They want people to be free to marry whoever they choose. They want people to be able to walk down the street without fear of being abused for having the wrong paint job. They want us to be able to live free of concerns of getting asthma from someone else’s profit-making coal burning. They want free speech to be a right of human beings, not corporations.
Republicans are strategically astute, though. They always say that things like streamlining are for the benefit of small businesses. And a small machine shop would become more profitable if it could just wash solvents down the drain. But Republican policies free up corporations so that they can eat small businesses for lunch. Look at what Wal-Mart has done to so-called “main street.”
It basically comes down to a simple choice: corporate freedom or people freedom. Seems easy to me.
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.