When it comes to a contest with Republicans, to use the language of Bill Clinton's campaign, it's the power, stupid. When we exercise power over our own lives, that's freedom. When we exercise power over the lives of others, it's power. Follow me down below the orange thingy to find out why.
When we exercise power over our own lives, that's freedom. When we exercise power over the lives of others, it's power.
Republicans talk about freedom, but you never hear them talk about power. Republicans say that government takes away our freedoms, even though it was designed to give all the people a voice in what government does. And Republicans have been working to make government the caricature that they portray it to be. They have used it to take away a woman's right to choose. They have used it to take away the right to form effective unions. They have used it to restrict the people's access to the political process through the restriction of voting rights.
In every case where Republicans have restricted freedom through the exercise of power. They are ruthless in that exercise. As Orwell portrays in Ninteen Eighty-Four, the Party exercises power for its own sake. As the Party leader and torturer O'Brien explains to his victim, Winston Smith:
'The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. . . ..They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. . . ..The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?'
So Republicans rail against govenment for its constrainst on the freedom of businesses to do whatever they please, yet they use govenment to constrain the freedom of its citizens. In Nineteen Eighty-Four the terms doublespeak and doublethink were used to institutionalize the cognative dissonance that the Party used to exercise and maintain its power. The Republican Party seems to have managed such cognitive dissonance without the need for arcane philosophy. They've discovered that people can hold two completely contradictory ideas at once and believe in each equally.
As for the craziness we perceive in the Republican Party, that seems to be necessary for the exercise of power for its own sake. Winston Smith detects a "faint, mad gleam of enthusiasm," in O'Brien's face as he explains the philosophy of the Party. We've seen that gleam in they faces of Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry and the rest at various times. It's the special glow that the human soul gets from exercising power over other human souls.
So participation in government to arrive at laws that allow each of us the most power over our own lives without the infringement of the power of others would be freedom. This is not to be confused with libertarianism, which is merely anarchy for the wealthy and powerful. What liberals desire is a more free society through the judicious exercise of government as leavening power between the powerful and the powerless. What conservatives appear to desire is the accumulation and exercise of power for its own sake. Seen in that light, former Vice President Dick Cheney's continued assertion that torture is necessary in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary makes much more sense. As Orwell wrote, "The object of torture is torture."
So the dialogue needs to change. Liberals need to demonstrate that the Republican Party is only interested in power, and seeks to limit freedom to that end. Liberals must not shrink before bullying tactics, or they will continue to be used against us.