The GOP's Brave New World

It really sounds great when the GOP candidates and the Tea Party types are out on the campaign trail and say all those inspiring things about how they want to “promote individual freedom by reducing the size and scope of government and its intrusion into the lives of its citizens.” You gotta love the sound of that.

And they make it clear that they wish to stop Obama from doing all of the oppressive things he’s been doing to Americans. Things like letting them engage the “pursuit of happiness,” as they see it. (Did you know Rick Santorum has boldly taken a firm stance against the “Pursuit of Happiness? Really. He did.)

Rick Santorum has also been getting a lot of mileage out of promoting chastity. He has some very devoted followers in the Chastity Belt, which mostly consists of some very red states with abstinence-only sex ed programs and very high rates of teen pregnancy. Santorum got so upset at the fact that Obama thought all women should have a right of access to birth control that he claimed:

“What is left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you’ll do, and when you’ll do it. What’s left in France became the guillotine.”

Yes, Rick, ensuring that economically disadvantaged women have access to family planning services is almost exactly like a massively violent social upheaval (and chopping the heads off of rich aristocrats). I wish.

All around the country, Tea Party types and right wingers are giving women unprecedented new freedoms. Like the freedom to have unwanted and unnecessary sonograms in Texas, the freedom to undergo unwanted counseling in phony clinics, the freedom to endure mandatory waiting periods for abortion services, or the freedom to be given false information about an imaginary link between abortion and breast cancer.

Like Santorum, many right wingers believe that state governments have the freedom to outlaw contraceptives if they wish. That’s the way it used to be not too long ago, even here in Massachusetts. Santorum and company believe that states still have the freedom to reach in the bedroom and say what sexual practices are permissible.

The right wing sex police call it “overreaching and judicial activism” when the Courts strike down government intrusions into the bedroom and the most intimate reaches of private life. The far right is still mad about Griswald v. Connecticut and Baird v. Eisenstadt and Roe v. Wade.

And while they believe that the government is free to enter your bedroom, they seem to believe that the government should not be free to stick its nose into the business of protecting women from violence.

Up in New Hampshire, Tea Party types have been trying to weaken protections against domestic violence. And in Washington, they are working overtime to weaken a groundbreaking law to protect women. The Violence Against Women Act was last reauthorized back in 2005 by unanimous consent in the Senate and with a whopping 415 votes in the House. But thanks to the new zealotry of the far right — a reauthorization bill recently received exactly zero Republican votes in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

What killed it, you ask? The Republicans didn’t like language in the bill that would cover victims who are gay or transgender and also modestly expand visas for undocumented immigrants who are victims of domestic violence. In the freedom-loving eyes of the far right, it is apparently OK to smack around these groups at will — but you better not love them. Because that, in this brave new world of Tea Party freedom, could be a crime.