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Badger, Freedom, and the Pretend Patriots

THE HUMBLING experience of living never ceases to astound Badger.

Last weekend a host of morons descended upon Cathedral Road in Cardiff to harangue Mark Drakeford in his family home.

Badger supposes most of those using loud hailers to interrupt the First Minister’s enjoyment of the Lions game are used to having loud hailers pointed in their direction.

Badger suspects by Police shouting: “We know you’re in there, put down the plasma screen TV and come out with your hands raised.”

The denialists, dingleberries, demented, Dementors, and dickheads concerned in the harassment of Mark Drakeford are like the head of a particularly nasty perianal cyst on the body politic: a toxic pain in the backside in need of specialist treatment.

Not only is Wales not England, still less is it America.

The USA is the home of the brave and the land of the free. It possesses a political subculture that celebrates ignorance.

In the 19th Century, there was an entire political group called ‘The Know-Nothing Party’.
The Know-Nothings were initially a secret society. It was primarily an anti-immigration, populist, and xenophobic movement.

It sought to politically organize native-born white Anglo-Saxon protestants in what they described as a defence of their traditional religious and political values.

In 1855, Know-Nothing candidate Levi Boone was elected mayor of Chicago and barred all immigrants from city jobs.

Know-Nothings were hostile to wealth, elites, and expertise and depended on the wisdom of crowds (or, in Cardiff on Saturday, the baying mob).

Does that sound familiar, readers?
It should.

The Know-Nothings’ heirs are those in the USA and elsewhere who think that inflaming humanity’s worst instincts is a valid political exercise.

Nowadays, they consist of voices who pretend to speak for the silent majority.

Everyone is fed up with Covid and the restrictions placed upon lives by the precautions taken to protect the population from the disease’s worst effects. However, repeated polling of the public shows that the majority think relaxing all restrictions is wrong and disastrous.

We must learn to live with Covid. If that means temporarily surrendering some of our freedoms to make sure we stay safe, that’s just too bad.

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, is no fan of either the First Minister or his politics.

However, Mr Davies made his feelings plain about the mob gathering outside Mark Drakeford’s private residence.

“If you have political disagreements (and believe me the First Minister and I have many) then get involved in politics. Harassment is never acceptable.”

If the hooligans, convicted criminals, and self-taught ‘experts’ who gathered outside Mark Drakeford’s home think they achieved anything of any weight, made one jot of difference, conveyed anything other than their self-absorbed rage, or persuaded the First Minister to do what they want (whatever the hell that is), they are – each and every one of them – sodding deranged.

It is noticeable that those banging on the most about ‘freedom’ support freedom only on their own terms and otherwise promote intolerance and hate.

To call some of those involved ‘PayPal Patriots’ demeans the word ‘patriot’. They are anything but patriotic. They hate Britain as it is and what to remould it in their own idiotic image.

It’s a vision of distorted images of the past and a one-eyed view of past glories, whether real or imagined.

They forget British citizens with their political attitudes spent the Second World War in internment or prison.

The worst of them are opportunistic blowhards and bullies who melt like snowflakes when they feel the heat of disapproval.

Rather like the Wicked Witch of the West met her end when splashed with water, they end up squealing “I’m melting” when their loathsomeness is exposed to the light and confronted.

Putting it very generously, most of those concerned are Francophiles. Not because they love the French, but because they think what the country needs is a General Franco.

Let’s be clear about this, readers: if you believe in democracy, you believe in the law.

You don’t get to pick and choose which laws you like and that you’re prepared to obey because it suits you. Even if you’re a fringe nutter like one of those ‘Freemen of the Land’, the law applies to you whether you agree with its bases or not.

In a parliamentary democracy – like the UK – Parliament makes the laws.

It’s one of the vagaries of the UK’s political system that no Westminster government has had over one half of the vote casts in an election since 1931 (when the Conservatives allied with a range of National Labour and National Liberals on one ticket).

We don’t have government by permanent revolution or constant referendum.

Parliaments (the UK has four) make laws and regulations that affect all citizens in their respective jurisdictions.

In a representative democracy, parliamentarians use their own judgement. That means Parliament isn’t bound or confined by what an ill-defined ‘majority of the people’ want and make laws accordingly.

The essence of law is the trade-off between certainty and collective good against individual freedoms. There is no ‘right to freedom’. There is, however, a right to liberty under the law.

A hundred howling their ignorance at a front door in Cardiff is not exercising a ‘right to protest’; it’s an effort to subvert parliamentary democracy, harass an individual, and is patriotism’s antithesis.

Libertarian arguments for a relaxation of restrictions are founded on the belief people will behave rationally once restrictions are eased.

On a basic level, libertarians assume that an individual’s self-interest will coincide with a majoritarian instinct towards caution and precautions.

It’s a touching testament to a belief in human rationality, which the sight of a mob harassing Mark Drakeford did not support.

Bluntly, exercising freedom responsibly is an essential part of political culture. The right to protest lawfully and peacefully, without harassing others, is also fundamental.

Being contrarian bullies by yelling yourself hoarse through a megaphone risks the return of the very ‘freedoms’ that those in Cardiff say they want people to enjoy.

Well, provided the people are as ‘patriotic’ as they think they are.