Republicans Don’t Understand Freedom

Laramie Graber
4 min readOct 12, 2020
Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Republicans claim to be the party of freedom. They are, rather obviously, not. Still, they lay claim to the mantle rather effectively both within and even outside their party. How? Quite simply, too many Americans do not understand how freedom works.

Unsurprisingly, via Mike Pence, the Republican’s false idea of freedom came up numerous times in the vice presidential debate (a transcript). For example, Pence deploys it to defend bigotry and misogyny under the guise of Christianity: “We hope she [Amy Coney Barrett] gets a fair hearing. And we particularly hope that we don’t see the kind of attacks on her Christian faith that we saw before … Senator, I know one of our judicial nominees, you actually attacked because they were a member of the Catholic Knights of Columbus, just because the Knights of Columbus holds pro-life views.” Pence does not evoke freedom directly, but it is the familiar argument that conservative Christians are discriminated against for their religious beliefs. In other words, they are being denied freedom. Yet when we examine freedom, as opposed to the Republican concept of it, the argument completely falls apart.

Excepting anarchists, everyone thinks that society should have laws. Laws necessarily impinge upon freedoms to, ideally, benefit all of society. For example, most agree that a murderer should lose some of their freedom either through prison or the death penalty. They are a danger to society. Or, in other words, their desire to murder infringes on the right of people to live. Traffic laws follow a similar principle, in that they place limits on our choices while driving to limit injuries, death, and destruction of property. It is well established that not everybody can do whatever they want, they cannot have absolute freedom, because this would limit the ability of everyone to live free from harm. Laws are made to restrict some freedoms so that, in the end, everyone can be more free.

In light of this reality, Pence’s argument becomes ridiculous. First off, Harris and other Democrats haven’t criticized Barrett because she is a Christian. As Harris pointed out in the debate, she and Joe Biden are both Christians. No, Barrett is criticized because her brand of Christianity is misogynistic and anti-LGBTQ+. Ditto for the Catholic Knights of Columbus. Bigotry is being challenged, not…