The Gallup Poll has just found that Americans want the government to promote "traditional values." Dog bites man, you'll say. But that's not the whole story.
According to Byron York, the poll shows that Americans trended away from the idea that the government should support traditional values in the 2005-2008 time. That was the time when President Bush and Republicans were very unpopular. So Americans weren't so sure they wanted Bush and the Republicans as the arbiters of national values.
Now all of a sudden, after six months of the Obama administration, the American people have decided that they do too want the government to promote "traditional values" by 53 to 42 percent. Republicans haven't changed their minds. Democrats haven't change. But Independents have.
Last year, independents were overwhelmingly in favor, by 55 percent to 37 percent, of the government not favoring any set of values. In the new survey, those numbers are almost reversed, with 54 percent saying the government should promote traditional values and 40 percent saying it should not.
I have a different take on the Bush popularity explanation and the sudden change in the opinion of independents. In the Bush years, it wasn't so much that Bush was unpopular as that liberals and Democrats were determined to make him unpopular. With their daily vitriol they made the "compassionate conservative" into a hard-right theocrat. They made the moderate bumbling by all levels of government during Hurricane Katrina into a specific failure of Bush. They did everything they could to run Bush down. They succeeded.
Well, when you do that, you are likely to bring moderates and independents along with you. Studies show repeatedly that moderates and independents are less knowledgeable about politics and less interested in political issues. They just go with the Zeitgeist.
The Democrats were suggesting in their attacks on Bush that it didn't have to be that way. Democratic government would be moderate and centrist, especially when compared to the hard-right cowboy politics of Bush.
What the independents and moderates have got is clearly a hard-left government that is trying to jam down everything in the liberal agenda, using every trick in the book, before the American people wake up and upchuck them.
Let us leave aside the profoundly immoral and unjust nature of this project. The whole point of civil government is to try to do things as much as possible by consensus. Because government is force, and force works both ways. The whole idea of laws and rules is to limit the use of force and make politics run within the rules, rather than break the bounds of civility, and ultimately, peace.
When you break the rules, you'd better remember Al Davis' famous line: "Just win baby."
I'm predicting that the Democrats are making a gigantic strategic mistake. I think that the outcome of the present Democratic jam-down will be a staggering backlash.
Liberals and the MSM and their activist talking heads create a narrative every day that they tell and retell to the American people. It is that the American people need all the vast expense and structure of big government. Otherwise children would go hungry and illiterate, mothers would die in childbirth, and the unemployed would live in shanty-towns. Government is a measure of our compassion.
It's just not true. Humans are social animals; they create society wherever they go. And the purpose of all social relations is precisely to care for children, to raise them to useful work, and to help the unfortunate. Without government, this society would be brimming with social relations and compassion.
When you have government do all this, it gets done badly. Because government is force. You don't use force to do things that need compassion.
So the liberal effort to effect the complete takeover by liberals of all social relations is bound to fail. Because the more that government does, the more it does badly. And the more it forces, the more it forces compassion out of society.
If the American people get a notion that all this government is just a waste, a corrupt bargain that just funnels money to liberals so they can boss everyone around, and if some populist leader arises who can articulate such a message, then we could see real hope and real change. For a change.