Freedom. It is a strange word and means many different things to many different people. For some, freedom is a freedom from responsibility and for others it is having a few hours for themselves. This word has a strange nuance. Others see freedom as a way of life.
Over the last several years, I have heard it used in many different ways, but I am now hearing it used in more political terms. I am hearing it as a cry for people to live their lives the way the want to, free from the government and other social norms. This has been a different call of freedom than what I am used to hearing. That does not make it bad, just different.
I am 59 years old and for most of my life, even while in police work, it appeared that people were going along just to get along. It was sort of sad, but it seemed like the status quo. No one in my circle of friends, co-workers, and acquaintances really seemed to want to rock the boat. They might not have been happy, but we all went along with the norm.
People voted either Republican or Democrat and no one really said what their political beliefs were. It was a boring concept, but it worked, over time, until…it didn’t. Starting with the Clinton presidency, I started seeing small cracks in this boring armor. My friends on the Republican side of things did not hate Clinton. They just did not trust him, and he seemed shady. On the other hand, what people on the right thought of his wife, Hillary, was not good.
The 2000 lection and the insanity of that election would be a trigger that could have sparked a mini revolution if it were not for September 11, 2001. The battle between Gore and Bush and the fights in court were intense. After Gore conceded to Bush, it was the first time I heard anyone say that a sitting president was not their president. It might have been the first time I heard it, but it would not be the last.
After Obama’s victory in the 2008 election, the Tea Party was born and the first hard crack in the Republican Party was seen. John McCain and, later, Mitt Romney, were not palatable to a lot of conservative voters. Many Republicans were asking what, if anything, conservatives had conserved. It was a legitimate question.
In 2016, the whole Republican roof caved in. As much as many Democrats and Liberals felt that Trump’s rise to the top was a reaction to Obama, the truth is Trump’s rise to the top had more to do with the Republican Party’s failure to meet its own base needs. It was an indictment of the entire rigid GOP.
Republicans appeared humorless, old, rich, and smug. Maybe Trump was old and rich, but he was not humorless or smug. He was full of piss and vinegar and ready to take on Washington D.C. It is what the Republican base wanted, and it was what Trump gave his followers in spades. Make no mistake, Republicans wanted a powerful leader and Trump was the man to do it.
Trump’s presidency was a fight from the beginning. From Russians to lawsuits to scandals to hateful commentary from Mainstream Media, the Trump presidency had all the subtlety of a carnival side show. It was grand theater, until the bottom fell out. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it changed the world, and nothing will ever be the same.
Regardless of how you thought Trump handled the pandemic, other topics become part of the soup of the day. Which businesses should be open? Which should be closed? Is it okay for Wal-Mart to be open but the Mom-and-Pop store to be closed?
Other questions were asked. Do you wear a mask or don’t you? Can your children go to school or do they stay home? These were some of the questions, and there were many more.
Depending what day it was, what news you were watching, and what state you lived in, all of these questions got different answers. Add in an election that many people thought was fixed and you have major problems. Remember, the last election that Hillary lost, the Russians did it. They had fixed the election for Donald Trump. And this time, when Trump loses, any concern is an election hoax. It just seems fair, right??
Through all this confusion, people are starting to talk about freedom. Real freedom. The type of freedom where people are really free. Free to live their lives and to educate their children the way they want to do it. Free to eat and drink where they want to eat and drink and how they want to eat and drink.
People are becoming intense about their freedoms. Individuals who have never thought about their beliefs or what they want from life are doing a lot of soul searching. They are asking themselves a lot of hard questions. They are looking inward for the answers. And they are finding them.
People are searching for freedom. They are looking for a true meaning of existence. They are looking for the greater good and it sounds virtuous to me. Freedom.
Joseph St. John
Editor and Publisher of SGC