Once the problems of politics in the body politic were mismanagement and corruption, now the problem is truth telling, closely followed by the idea that freedom has no limits or accountability. Lies distort shared values, breed mistrust, and block growth in jobs and wages. Lies also go beyond our disagreements to attack the confidence and peace we share as citizens; they stir rage, anger, and generate a helplessness that weakens our fabric while never addressing a fix. Lies have no solution, but they do have other goals and aims–often to advance special interests through a concealed agenda.
As lies become the principles that bind powerful coalitions, progress and prosperity are reversed—as lies are justified as free speech and any challenge, private or public, is railed against as government interference in freedom—a doubling down that conveys and cues a new permissiveness, supported by the ephemera of wealth and privilege that further smashes the virtues of government. Embedded in Trump’s “good, bad, and sad” is a second level of meaning: a strong advocacy that anything goes. In the miasma that languishes unarticulated in this view, the warrant of gun ownership comes close—and is a logical approach—to the right to kill.
Freedom carries responsibility, it sets freedom apart from the acts of outlaws. Texas is blurring the difference with its new open carry laws, celebrating the lodestone that every freedom is absolute and without consequence. On the Capitol steps in Austin, Texas, Ryan Allen, a 26 year old student from Longview proudly displayed a Glock Model 20, saying, “I just think it’s a step toward freedom.”
What freedom? With glee and little sadness, in the guise of freedom many in Congress have become public enemies. Among us, in the body politic, they have many accomplices.