Does the Left Love Freedom Again?

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It’s Thanksgiving this week, which means we’re all looking for things to be thankful for.

One thing I’m thankful for is that our friends on the left may be coming around to the idea that freedom is cool again.

Over the past eight years, we have seen a massive shift away from an emphasis on individual rights to an environment that prioritized a subjective concept of “tolerance” in the hopes of eradicating a subjective concept of “discrimination.”

The cost has been a significant assault on conscience rights and individual freedoms.

In 2007, few of us could have imagined:

But all of those became priorities of the Obama Administration.

Previously, it was understood that First Amendment protected people in cases like these. Beyond that, however, conservatives and liberals agreed that it was wrong for a political majority to compel a political minority to do things that violated their sincerely held beliefs.

In fact, it was this shared belief in individual rights that caused proponents of same-sex “marriage” to emphasize the fact that freedom was in no way being jeopardized by the sexual revolution.    

After all, it was about more liberty, not less.

But all that changed when they won.

Their tone changed because they believed the world was changing—permanently.

The President had assured them that “the arc of history bends towards justice” and they were sure that their understanding of justice was the correct one.

After years of telling themselves that they were on the “right side of history”, they were confident that their ascendance was permanent.  After all, they are “progressives” and this was simply the inevitable result of progress.

Comforted by the knowledge that they held the moral high-ground, the “fundamental transformation” of America that President Obama promised during his campaign was underway.

They knew that freedom was nice in principle, but in practice it provided too few safe spaces. Therefore, “celebrating our differences” gave way to “eradicating discrimination.”

And the mandates came, fast and furious.

Bake that cake.

Sell that drug.

Buy that insurance plan.

Pay for that abortion.

Decorate for that wedding.

Many objected, but those objections were met with scorn and disdain.  “You’ll die off soon enough,” they assured us—and themselves.

But we’re still here. And much to their consternation, we actually won an election.

Actually, we’ve been winning some elections for four years now, but it took losing the Presidency for them to really notice.

In the last four years, Democrats have lost one thousand seats in state legislatures across the country.

One thousand.

There are only six states in which Democrats control all three branches of government. There are twenty-five states where Republicans do.  In total, Republicans control thirty-two state legislatures (plus Nebraska which is technically but is plenty Republican).

If Republicans gained control of one more state legislature, they would be able to amend the United States Constitution without needing the support of a single Democrat anywhere in the country.

In protest to the election results, a fashion designer recently concluded she could not design a dress for Melania Trump.  In the larger conversation, this is a sub-sub plot.

But it’s noteworthy because the left has spent the last several years trying to tell others that if they didn’t want to lend their creative talents to same-sex weddings they were bad people.

Of course that was always non-sense, and still is.

In the same way, this fashion designer is probably not a terrible person.  She simply has a conviction and there’s absolutely no reason she should need to get a permit from the government for it.

Is it discrimination? Of course

Is there outrage from the left as a result? Of course not.

This case illustrates once again that they weren’t really trying to eliminate discrimination in its infinite forms, but rather trying to punish ideas they weren’t sympathetic to.

Indeed, just last week, in an attempt to punish a florist who didn’t want to decorate for a same sex wedding, Washington State’s Attorney General argued at the State Supreme Court that once you open yourself up as a business, you don’t get to decide who you do business with, the government does.

If the WA state legislature decided to make “Trump Supporters” a protected class (as they could, but definitely shouldn’t) this fashion designer would be liable in the same way they say the florist stands to be.

Your right to decline should not depend upon what a political majority in a state legislature decides to do.

That’s why we have a First Amendment in the first place.

But under progressive logic, it does.

Or at least it did.

Sometimes we win elections and sometimes we lose them. One of the ways we acknowledge the dignity of those who think differently than we do is by protecting their freedom to be who they are, even if we disagree and even if there’s more of us than there are of them.

And if that means anything, it means respecting their freedom to opt-out and decline to be part of things they don’t want to be part of.

It can be argued that many on the left forgot this over the last eight years, blinded by their good intentions.

However, further in our past, plenty of people on the political right showed an instinct to control those who disagreed with them as well.

It’s not a partisan problem, it’s a human problem.

This election hasn’t solved all our problems.  It remains to be seen if it will solve any of them and there is still a lot of work to do to undo the totalitarian impulses of the left at the state and federal levels.

But at least we have a chance to now.

And in light of the left’s newfound appreciation for dissent, we may have some new allies in the case.

And that is something we can all be thankful for.

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