Monday, May 22, 2023

Welcome to Minnesota

Tonight I met a couple who are moving to the Twin Cities from Omaha. They consider themselves internally displaced people: they're leaving Omaha because of the political climate there, the loss of rights. They chose Minnesota, and Saint Paul specifically, as their destination.

They have been living in Megan Hunt's district, the member of the Nebraska legislature who has been filibustering against a proposed anti-trans bill for months. Hunt is one of just a few members of the legislature who is not part of the far right, they told me.

It made me think of Jamelle Bouie's recent New York Times column, which I have seen cited many times but not fully read (because paywall). It's called The Four Freedoms, According to Republicans. This site has the heart of it.

Bouie wrote,

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.


It's a word that some on the Right are fond of, but not something they have a real interest in, or define in any meaningful way.

Nick Anderson's cartoon reminds me of something author Anand Giridharadas said a few days ago on MSNBC, about the political opportunity to make the case for freedom and stop giving up that terminology to Republicans:

Imagine being free from fearing death when you go to school. Free to decide what to do with your own body. Free to read a book. 

 Welcome to Minnesota, friends.

No comments: