"Freedom Isn't Free"

It's a slogan that's been around a long while, and it's usually heard when people are discussing the sacrifices made by America's soldiers. It's even the name of a song, co-written by country singer Randy Travis and pastors John and Matthew Hagee, which discusses that theme of sacrifice. Questions of musical value aside, I think the song and its theme are well worth considering in the light of our nation's political life.

For example: Texas governor Rick Perry, who officially joined the presidential race only yesterday, has already garnered the cooperation and support of the above-mentioned pastor John Hagee, whom you may remember from the 2008 campaign; he's the preacher whose anti-Catholic views were seen as so poisonous that John McCain had to repudiate him publicly. It's interesting to me that Perry doesn't view anti-Catholicism as such a problem. Hagee, for his part, has appeared at Perry's mass prayer rally, "The Response," and compared his new buddy to Abraham Lincoln.

Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann, whose crazy-eyed image on the cover of Newsweek has garnered almost as much attention as any of her political statements, has acquired the support North Carolina's own Travis. He was performing at the same gathering where the Ames Straw Poll gave Bachmann the victory with 29% of the vote.

What got me thinking about the issue raised by these songwriters? Well, it was a moment during last week's Republican debate, one in which Perry did not participate. (One debater, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, has already dropped out of the race in the light of a poor showing in Ames.) The Atlantic called it "the defining moment" of the debate, and I think that's probably accurate.

The most noteworthy and damning moment of the GOP debate in Iowa Thursday was when the moderators asked the candidates to raise their hands if they would walk away from a deal that cut ten dollars from the deficit for every one dollar in tax increases. Every last person on stage said they'd reject that deal.

That, in a nutshell, shows what today's GOP is all about: lower taxes, period. Not deficit reduction, not economic health, not jobs, not trade policy or anything else--just lower taxes, no matter how hypocritical the position may be.

Perry and Bachmann, for example, have both been quite insistent on receiving money from the federal government--Perry for his state's economic stimulus projects and emergency wildfire protection, Bachmann for everything from funding for her husband's "gay-curing" clinic and her family farm's subsidies--but both are completely opposed to raising taxes. (Perry has gone so far as to argue that it was the 1913 passage of the 16th Amendment, which authorized income taxes, that began our nation's long decline.) No matter what they say, for these people cutting spending is not important, even with taxes at a historic low, and balancing the budget is a goal worth amending the Constitution, but only if it's done without raising taxes. If it requires the country to raise money from its citizens, even the richest of the rich, even by a minimal amount, they're against it.

And that makes me wonder: if you and your party already acknowledge that freedom isn't free, what does it say about you that you'd rather ask American soldiers to pay for it in blood than ask millionaires to pay for it with their pocket money?

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on August 14, 2011 11:21 AM.

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