Why Josh Hawley Hates Your Freedom

It’s no accident Hawley seeks to subvert the republic. It’s always been his goal.

Aaron Ross Powell
4 min readJun 4, 2021

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Josh Hawley (R-MO) was the first senator to announce he’d challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. He raised his fist in salute to the mob that would soon violently overrun the seat of American democracy. Later that night, with the dust barely settled from a siege that left five dead, Hawley plunged ahead with his plan to sow even more of the doubts about the election that had provoked an insurrection.

But something deeper than ambition and opportunism propelled Hawley’s support for what turned into the worst national insurrection since 1877. Hawley rejects liberalism — not the left, as the word is too often used to describe, but the principles of individual freedom and autonomy at the core of the American experiment. He’s not a reality TV host or a shallow politician. He’s thought deeply about liberty — and he doesn’t like it.

Hawley’s politics are driven by a social and political philosophy, now known as national conservatism. But unlike recent converts, Hawley developed his ideas long before that term was coined, and long before he joined the Senate in 2019.

Hawley’s brand of national conservatism is a rejection of the animating principle of the Declaration of Independence, the radical proposition that we have a right to the pursuit of happiness, and that what this looks like is individually chosen and protected by America’s constitutional structure.

Hawley not only rejects the idea that “liberty is all about choosing your own ends,” but sees freedom as a destructive turn away from a purer way of life, constrained by social hierarchies and tradition. Liberty, he says, “is a philosophy of liberation from family and tradition, of escape from God and community, a philosophy of self-creation and unrestricted, unfettered free choice.” He believes liberty has led to a country that is riven by conflict, marked by distasteful cosmopolitanism, and overly welcoming to foreign people and ideas. It is an America too concerned with the outside world when we should focus on promoting a socially conservative working class protected by impenetrable borders.

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Aaron Ross Powell

Host of the ReImagining Liberty podcast. Writer and political ethicist. Former think tank scholar.