Things are more complicated than they used to be.
It used to be that conservatives would advocate for a return to some idyllic, unfettered free society, unburdened by excessive constraints of what they called a “nanny state.” Liberals would then argue that there never was such a society, at least not in the US, and what was derided as the nanny state was simply a means of redress for the injustices suffered by less fortunate citizens.
Now, Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party has systematically destroyed any vestiges of conservative ideology among the party faithful in favor of the kind of personality cult we used to cluck at in other places. There’s no longer even any serious attempt at lip service to these values. What we get instead is a naked power grab, no holds barred.
Ironically, this finally allows us to resolve the classic debate between liberals and conservatives. We now have to concede that the Republican party is indeed trying to restore the country to some previous state that the country was actually in. They want to go back to the 1950s.
For those of you too young to remember that time, let me clarify things. It was a time when African Americans were still occasionally being lynched with impunity, when police would routinely beat confessions out of the usual suspects whenever it was expedient, when anyone even suspected of communist sympathies was blacklisted from desirable jobs, when the term “domestic violence” didn’t exist and it was considered a man’s prerogative to beat his wife and children, when “no” was seriously thought to mean “yes,” and when it was everybody’s business to enforce conformity. Women were expected to stay home and cook, and if they were allowed to work at all, it was at a fraction of the salaries of equivalent jobs for men. LGBTQ? Forget it. It was open season on people like you.
And this wasn’t the worst of our history. From the infamous Alien and Sedition Act to the Jim Crow laws, we have been a country of, at best, enablers, and at worst, criminals.
Trump’s ideals are no foreign intrusion, friends. They are a dream of his youth, the good old days in the US. You can see it through the clenched teeth of his supporters. At least no one’s pretending any more; what you see is what you get.