By Robert Reich
Anyone who’s been following the drama over Biden’s social and climate package would think that the major roadblocks have been two Democratic senators, Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Totally absent from media coverage is the fact that no Republican senator — not a single one out of fifty — has been willing to support these proposals.
This isn’t because of Republicans’ aversion to government. Lower prescription drug prices, for example, would reduce the need for government spending on drugs. No, the Republican Party has morphed into a highly-disciplined advocate of intrusive government — intrusive, that is, where it seeks control over American society.
I’m old enough to remember when the Republican Party really did stand for limited government — when Ronald Reagan thundered “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” The Republican politicians I once knew had a coherent view about preserving individual liberties and limiting the role of government. That’s not to say I agreed with it — far from it. I remember long arguments with Republican lawmakers, behind closed doors, about whether a smaller government was genuinely in the interest of Americans. We disagreed, but their view was at least coherent and they were committed to it.
By contrast, today’s Republican Party is intruding everywhere:
Republican governors ban masks in schools.
Republican legislators outlaw abortions.
Republican lawmakers prohibit teachers from teaching about America’s racist past.
Republican officials force transgender students to play sports and use bathrooms according to their assigned gender at birth.
And across the country, Republican lawmakers are making it harder for people to vote.
This is not limited government. It’s social control. Republican politicians have a particular ideology and are determined to impose that ideology on citizens holding different views and values.
This is not about freedom, either. Just the opposite: It’s Republican lawmakers denying people their freedoms. The freedom to be safe from COVID. Freedom over their own bodies. The freedom to learn the truth about our history. The freedom to vote and participate in our democracy.
Today’s Republican politicians are misusing government to advance a narrow and restrictive set of values — intruding on the most intimate acts, exploiting fear and hate for political gain, and banning what’s necessary for people to exercise their most basic freedoms. This is not mere hypocrisy. The Republican Party now poses a clear and present threat even to the values it once espoused.
That’s my view. What do you think?