Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Make Freedom Mine?

We are not exactly certain when right-wing Americans began to assert a monopoly on the word "freedom"—what it means, how best to preserve it, who is guilty of trying to take it away. But if we had to guess, we'd say 1948 is a pretty good answer. In that year, a conservative think tank hired a conservative film producer to create the propaganda film Make Mine Freedom:

The title card from 'Make Mine Freedom,'
which shows the title of the film and a drawing of the Statue of Liberty

It's overtly pro-business, pro-patriotism, pro-"American values" and, tacitly, pro-Republican Party. It is also overtly anti-socialism, anti-communism and, tacitly, anti-Democratic Party. Since then, Republican politicians and activists have very successfully managed to weaponize "freedom," from Richard Nixon in the early years of his career through Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Kevin McCarthy today.

Joe Biden has been alive that entire time, and has noticed this pattern. And so, he has decided to try to take "freedom" back. This was clear in his launch video (entitled "Freedom," by the way), and it will become even clearer as he campaigns. He plans to argue that he will protect freedom from Republicans who want to take it away.

This will be very, very interesting to watch. Certainly, aided by folks like Lee Atwater and Frank Luntz, the Republican Party has done an excellent job of using language as a political tool, and turning things like "freedom," "strength," and "liberty" into assets for the GOP, while making things like "liberal," "progressive," and "woke" into liabilities for the Democrats. Many a Democratic voter and operative have complained that their Party does not take this kind of messaging seriously enough, and doesn't do enough to counter it. That's apparently not a problem anymore.

And Biden has chosen a pretty good time to implement what might be called, for lack of a better term, Operation Freedom. The preeminent policy planks of the Republican Party in 2024 pretty much all have to do with limiting various freedoms. That includes cracking down on reproductive choice, gender identity, which books a student can read, and whether or not a corporation can express political beliefs (even in a mild fashion). Ron DeSantis, who we guess is still a contender for the GOP presidential nomination, is particularly open to this line of attack; he might be the most anti-freedom politician of the last 50 years (it's a close call between him and Dick Cheney).

That said, if Biden sticks with this, he'll be trying to reverse roughly 75 years of Republican messaging. That's not an easy thing to do in a little over a year. Further, it is entirely possible that Republican voters are more susceptible to this kind of messaging than Democratic voters are. Anyhow, like we said, it will be interesting to watch. (Z)

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