The GOP Ditches Property Rights

For those of us who used to belong to a very, VERY different Republican Party, the most bewildering–and infuriating–feature of the cult that has replaced it is its blatant hypocrisy. A political party that used to favor free trade, fiscal prudence, individual liberty and property rights has cheerfully abandoned its devotion to those–or for that matter, any– principled approaches to civil liberties.

Granted, rational folks in both parties understood that your liberties aren’t absolute, and that concern for the public good–public health, national security and other social requirements– will necessarily constrain your ability to do whatever you want whenever you want. But once upon a time, the arguments between serious folks tended to be about specifics: when is it legitimate for government to limit certain liberties?

Thanks to the devolution of the Republican Party, virtually all of its once-sacrosanct principles have become disposable.

Free trade? When Donald Trump decided to impose tariffs–long considered unthinkable by the Grand Old Party–the cult jettisoned its prior beliefs and embraced them.

Fiscal prudence? These days, fiscal responsibility–not necessarily balancing the budget (the preference of a fringe unwilling to understand why such a constraint could be dangerous) but a commitment to imposing taxes to pay for government programs is long gone. The party that recoiled from Democrats’ perceived willingness to “tax and spend” became the party opposed to any and all taxes, especially on those most able to pay them. If the government really has to “do stuff,” today’s GOP favors”borrow and spend”–put it on the national credit card and let the next generation pay for it.

Individual liberty? That principle has been rewritten too. Now, it’s highly selective. Republicans are all for your “liberty” to act in ways with which they agree. They believe you should have the “liberty” to ignore public health mandates and decide for yourself whether to wear a mask (i.e., the “liberty” to infect your neighbor), but they remain adamantly opposed to a woman’s liberty to control her own body. They support your liberty to communicate racist sentiments, but not your liberty to voice your disapproval of those sentiments–that’s “cancel culture.”

And of course, they support the liberty of anyone and everyone to “pack heat,” but oppose even the most reasonable constraints to protect public safety.

And what about property rights? The GOP long defended property rights, arguing (I believe properly) that the government that can confiscate your property poses a danger to other civil liberties. After all, if the government can infringe your property rights in retaliation for the exercise of  your right to freedom of speech or religion, how likely are you to exercise those rights?

Apparently, property rights are also old school. As an article from The Week put it, the GOP no longer believes a man’s cruise ship is his castle.

“Texas is open 100 percent,” Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a Twitter video Monday, “and we want to make sure you have the freedom to go where you want without limits.” To that end, Abbott said, he signed a law banning any business or government entity in the state from requiring documentation of a COVID-19 vaccination or recovery for entry (commonly called vaccine passports).

Abbott cast the legislation as a bold strike for freedom, but it’s nothing of the sort — not in the sense the American right has traditionally understood the term, anyway. Though it may be said to enhance consumer choice, it is a betrayal of private property rights, which have long been core to visions of small government in the United States.

The article quotes James Madison’s 1829 address, in which the father of our Constitution explained “that the rights of persons, and the rights of property are the objects for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.”

Abbott begs to differ. Evidently, Texan business owners have no right to determine what happens on their property. Abbott isn’t the only Republican governor to  ignore property rights. Florida’s Ron DeSantis has banned vaccine passports, including those required by cruise ships departing from Florida.

Ironically, as the article notes, reliance on property rights allowed  the right to win many battles purportedly over religious liberty.

On questions like whether Catholic employers should be made to pay for employees’ birth control, whether conservative bakers should be forced to bake for a gay wedding, or whether Christian adoption agencies should be required to place children with same-sex couples, the right’s religious liberty position has long been buttressed by property rights: If you own the business, the argument goes, you should be able to make these calls as your conscience directs.

These days, however, only when your conscience points you in a GOP-approved direction.


  1. The hypocrisy is textbook, or would be if anyone in the modern GOP ever read a textbook. Makes a mockery of principle, argument, debate, the polis, the common good

  2. In the cloak room for a GOP huddle beyond listening devices: “Let’s just make it up as we go along and watch’em squirm.”

  3. The GOP has become unable or unwilling to solve real problems so they’ve taken to solving invented ones.

    And as Michael Gerson has said, today’s Republicans aren’t hypocrites. Hypocrisy requires a standard.

  4. All this hypocrisy coming from the right-wing — who would imagine such a thing. Ironically, these are also are most devout “Christians” shouting platitudes from the tallest buildings. They claim Christianity for whatever they think that gives them but act nothing like Jesus. And, in the same breath, wonder why membership is declining, and profess we need more to save the species.

    However, the hypocrisy doesn’t seem to be a phenom of just right-wingers. Instead, I think it is especially acute within the political class because they say one thing to voters and another thing to donors as a matter of daily functioning.

    Joe Manchin got caught by the folks at The Intercept basically telling rich financiers to court Republicans like Roy Blunt after he retires in exchange for a vote to reform the filibuster. When these folks were asked by journalists about the Zoom videoconference, their ability to doublespeak was also overwhelming.

    Not sure, but it’s also a form of dishonesty. They’re basically all liars. The GOP is in a race to the bottom to appeal to their 4th-grade functioning base, and the Democrats seem willing to chase them down that rabbit hole.

    Poor Joe Biden once again professed, like Sec of State Antony Blinken, that China and Russia will not be allowed to continue “violating human rights” without negative consequences from the USA because we are the beacon of upholding human rights. Well, you know, except for Gitmo, CIA black sites, journalists, and whistleblowers. We also sell arms to Saudi Arabia and Israel to violate the human rights of Palestinians and Yemenis.

    I’m afraid this is a human character issue of saying one thing and doing another. It’s a form of dishonesty requiring enlightenment and self-awareness to overcome.

  5. Different amendments to the constitution protect citizens from the government for different reasons. . The problem with courts being progovernment is that they don’t over-ride laws whether they are written by politicians from either side of the aisle. Mark Levin and other commentators want a balanced budget regardless of the politics and almost religiously warn against by pointing out daily abuses of democrats and republicans who violate property rights thru government taking property so other privs see rt TV get
    Everytime you earn a paycheck the government takes property from you because that dollar can buy a piece of property. The real problem is that the government no longer is full of fiscal conservatives on either side. Congress receives a low score for that reason alone.

  6. “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”
    George Orwell, 1984

  7. Yeah. Of course. Republicans are born without a spine. They are born without morals. They are born without ethics. Why? Because their owners, corporate/banking America, abhor those principles that you mentioned here. Is this new? Sort of. And not really. Go back to 1981-1990. That is when the GOP became the total whores of big money.

    Now, as you mention, they are cult of big money. This is PRECISELY what Marx meant when he prophesied the destruction of capitalism. The Republicans have now full embraced that path to destruction because a psychopath who wanted to be part of the “boys club” told them to.

    No spine. No morals. No ethics. It was an easy hustle for the the con man in chief. And so many dupes in the voting public bought into this situation without a thought. Literally… without a thought.

  8. One of the things I learned in college is that people have only the rights their governments give them. Before you jump to the Declaration of Independence, just let it sink in a bit.

  9. In the same vein as the GOP’s strangely convenient feelings on property rights, good ol Greg Abbott has decided he wants to finish Trump’s wall (at least across Texas). This means using eminent domain to take property from owners who are not pleased.

    Turns out, as in everything the GOP touches, the rules are flexible and only apply when they want them to.

  10. Daily chant …instead of rant, rant, rant…do, do, do….per brother Burke:

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good wo/men to do nothing.”

  11. It’s amazing to me how Americans did not object after 9/11 to allowing the government to infringe upon our privacy and to install people at airports to screen us for weapons etc. When I was called for jury duty years ago, I was forced to throw away 4 screws in my back pack. But I did not scream about my freedom.

    I would be happy to use a vaccine passport and though it was at times stressful, I wore a mask as required. Somehow Republicans do not understand that a pandemic can be just as lethal and destructive as a war if it is not contained. In some ways it is a cunning enemy because you cannot see it. The same goes for global warming because its destructive power is slow ( we are like the frog that gets boiled). I, of course, support allowing property owners to decide what to do with mask requirements. They should be allowed to protect their employees and themselves from a dangerous virus.

    Part of me wonders how much the pandemic has contributed to the labor shortage. I so wish that Republicans would change course and become true to their principles again.

  12. Todd, good link to The Intercept concerning Joe Manchin, so much for the high minded B.S. he is spouting concerning a Bipartisanship Philosophy.

    The Democratic Party instead of embracing youth in the party leadership has Schumer and Pelosi as the leadership team.

  13. Yes, drive Joe Manchin out of the Senate so he can be replaced by a Trump Republican. Brilliant!

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