The GOP’s Version of Roosevelt’s ‘Four Freedoms’ Should Terrify Every Democracy-Loving American

On January 6, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt delivered his State of the Union address to Congress shortly after winning his third term in the November 1940 election. Nazi Germany had defeated all European nations on the continent to its west forcing the historic retreat by sea at Dunkirk. Plans to exterminate European Jewry were underway. Great Britain remained the only force resisting domination by Hitler, and it was very much on the defensive. Japan was more than threatening its Pacific neighbors. The United States, not yet at war, continued to suffer the effect of a decade long depression.

President Roosevelt, seated in his wheelchair, rose to the occasion giving his “Four Freedoms” speech to the nation and the world. The first was freedom of speech and expression everywhere in the world. The second was freedom to wordship in his own way, everywhere in the world. The third was freedom from want, translated into international terms meaning economic understandings to secure every nation everywhere a healthy peace time life for its inhabitants. The fourth was freedom from fear so no nation anywhere would be able to commit an act of aggression.

Eighty years later, January 6, 2021, the loser of the 2020 election launched what has now been adopted by his entire party as the new four freedoms.

The freedom to not give up power was the dominant energizer on January 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol over insurrectionists and reflected in the votes of roughly half of the Republican members of Congress. In states where Republican governors were defeated, but they held on to an (often gerrymandered) legislature, this freedom meant reducing the power of an incoming governor of a different party during the lame duck session. Leaders in this effort have included North Carolina and Wisconsin. In Arizona, the losing 2022 candidate for governor still files lawsuits to un-do the election and practically calls herself a governor in exile.

A second republican freedom is the freedom to steal. When one chamber of the Texas legislature tried to put some limit on the level of corruption and willingness to accept bribes by the state Attorney General by initiating impeachment proceedings with an overwhelming majority of its house, the Republican Senate marched to the order of the former president and allied forces to guarantee that the accused attorney general would not be denied the freedom to steal while using his public office. The Lieutenant Governor of the state who sat as the impeachment trial judge, received $1 million in a campaign contribution from an Attorney General allied political action committee, and $2 million additional classified as a “loan”. The Lieutenant Governor is not up for election for more than three years, until November 2026.

A third Republican freedom is the freedom to command women who carry a fetus to do as the legislature tells them. This is related to the freedom to use religion to discriminate against persons who are not like you, or do not agree with your views. Together with many other areas, this freedom to dominate is one of the hallmarks of the party which expresses its belief in limited government.

 A fourth freedom is the freedom to intimidate. This allows weaponry of all description to be in the hands of anyone who wants them. It allows persons to track down and harass election workers, down or up the totem pole of responsibility. It allows the banning of books, the intimidation of librarians, and the silencing of educators at all levels to teach necessary truths including history of how we have arrived where we are. It causes elected members of Congress to not have the courage to vote for what is right because of the physical fear of their voter base, and the extremists who have significant philosophical and physical power within the party. As commanded, they are standing by.

The four Republican freedoms would not be attainable or enforceable in their jurisdictions without the most fundamental freedom of all. Republican officials are demanding, practicing, and frequently achieving, the ultimate hypocrisy, The freedom to lie.  It applies to the highest court where facts of cases are distorted and the long held rules of jurisprudence are disregarded. It holds in the annals of journalism where the affiliation of perhaps the most influential media of our time is to “green”, as in money. And tycoon Murdoch has decided that there is more green by calling your product journalism while lying to those in red to energize their advocacy and power. And it applies to what appears to be many millions of our fellow citizens who are faithful to the most unlikely false prophet, and prefer to believe the ridiculous instead of their own eyes, ears, and memories. Bigly sad.

The United States has a choice of which of these four freedoms to pursue as our goal. There is a difference between the Democratic vision and performance, and the Republican aspiration and the freedoms they now hold most dear.

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