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The Cult of Personal Freedom in the Donald Trump Era

michigan protest

Rabid Trump supporters spilled out into the streets in recent days, protesting stay-at-home orders in their respective states. We saw similar protests years ago from Tea Party members, and in more recent years from white supremacists. What’s the common denominators in these protests?

  • Anti-government sentiments
  • Gun ownership
  • Racism
  • Antisemitism
  • Libertarian politics
  • Anarchism
  • Conservative Christianity
  • Support of Evangelical culture war

I suspect more than a few of these protesters are also anti-vaxxers and homeschoolers. What holds this eclectic group together is that their God-given/natural/Constitutional rights are absolute, and no government — local, state, or federal — has a right to limit their rights.

florida protest

President Trump fueled insurrection over the weekend by tweeting out inflammatory comments to Democratic governors whose states have stay-at-home orders. Like red meat to a pack of dogs, these tweets were just what his devoted followers needed. “Trump is on our side,” protesters thought. Little do they know or care that Trump isn’t on anyone’s side. Trump, a narcissist and pathological liar, doesn’t give a damn about anyone except Donald J. Trump. One only need watch his daily press conferences to see that the president has no empathy for the American people. All that matters political power and financial enrichment.

Trump’s base continues to support him. It’s clear to anyone who is paying attention that there is literally nothing Trump can do to lose the fealty and devotion of his base. Try engaging Trump’s base on social media, and you will quickly learn how angry, vicious, and ignorant they can be — much like the president.

protest in kentucky

President Trump and stay-at-home-order protesters only care about one thing: self. They wrongly believe that their rights supersede the responsibility of government to protect the health, safety, and welfare of those they govern. These so-called patriots are willing to turn to violence to protect what they believe are their inviolable civil rights. In the days or weeks ahead, it would not surprise me if some gun nut defending his “rights” shoots a police officer or other member of law enforcement in “self-defense.” We must not turn a blind-eye to right-wingers who are talking about Second Amendment remedies. These faux-patriots believe that they have a duty and obligation to turn their guns on the government if and when their rights are limited or curtailed. In their addled minds, stay-at-home orders and shutting churches constitute TYRANNY! Of course, it is no such thing. The various restrictions of civil liberties in states across this country are for one thing and one thing alone: to protect the health and safety of state residents.

As I mentioned previously, most of these protesters are likely conservative/Evangelical Christians. You would think they would have heard sermons about selflessness and loving your neighbor as yourself, but evidently not. Their words and actions reveal selfishness found usually only among toddlers. Most of us outgrow our toddler years, learning that we have a duty to love and care for others; that sometimes we must be willing to curtail our personal liberties for the sake of others. This is simply the right thing to do.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    Yeah. They also can’t think rationally. For example, if we reopen the country and then cause a farther increase of deaths? How is that going to help the economy? It’s not. But they are incapable of rational thinking and trying to understand facts. Mainly because the GOP led to this by promoting crank, illiberal ideas, and then the natural evolution of that path led to Trump.

  2. Avatar
    dale m

    U always leave out one other thing that unites them together. Nobody wants to say it …. so I will. SOCIALISM !!! They’re not libertarians or even capitalists. They think everything should be handed to them on a platter (including eternal life) without ever lifting a finger. Self serving !!! Me first !!! Narcissistic !!! Entitlement !!! Like their President ! When the going gets tough, these little peon, ingrates bale out because they’re whimpy cry babies. It’s time we really put them to work helping first aiders keep the economy going.

    So stop referring to these whiny babies as responsible right wing capitalists. They have no endurance to be like the rest of us. Just look at President Flip-Flop !!!

  3. Avatar
    missimontana

    I said it on Twitter: these are the same idiots who were rejoicing at the government imprisoning Latino children and stealing them from their parents. Now that they are asked to stay in their nice warm homes with their kids, it’s tyranny. Oh, but “those were illegals, we’re patriots!” If they get sick, I will not feel the least bit sorry for them. How much do you want to bet these “rugged individualists” will be the first to sue the government or a corporation if a mass outbreak occurs as a result of their actions? All we can do is stay far away from them and protect ourselves from their stupidity.
    And yes, Capitalism is to blame. Reopening isn’t about the workers, it’s about corporate profits and the stock market. They don’t care how many die, as long as they squeeze a few dollars out of people first.

  4. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    If they aren’t evidence of the need to separate church and state, I don’t know what is?

    They confuse the Bible and the Constitution, most likely because they haven’t read either.

  5. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    I find it fascinating that many Americans have really internalized what happened in the 1770s, when the colonists rebelled against their British leaders regarding “taxation without representation ” and have turned that history into general distrust of government and belief in the right to violently protest against said government. And to take it further, at some of these protests you see Confederate flags, the symbol of those rebelling against their government (but in that case the rebels lost the war but have spent the ensuing decades oppressing anyone who isn’t a straight, white, American-born Christian).

  6. Avatar
    Carla Clark

    This is a group of people who have been carefully cultivated and empowered by far right republicans and evangelical ministers for years. They are armed, perpetually angry and driven by grievance, bitterness and resentment. Under Trump they have “blossomed”.

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