Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Problem, Our Opportunity

Three conservative pundits lead off today with end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it pieces.

Michael Medved tells the third party enthusiasts: "The Only Way to Beat Obamanism: Elect More Republicans." Unless we elect more Republicans, the liberals in Congress will keep passing more legislation to concentrate more power in the government. Street protest, funny hats, and cute slogans on placards won't do it. Only a Republican Congress and a Republican President will do it.

John Stossel tells freedom lovers that we deal with the unavoidable truth that government is a "Transfer Machine" in which politicians inevitably use the nation's wealth to win office and pension their supporters. And today the nation is evenly split between transferees and transferers.

Walter Williams rehearses the bloody record of "Elites and Tyranny." As long as we are pursuing "social justice" we are going to end up with bloodied elites pushing people around, and chaps who are good at it, like Stalin, Hitler, and Mao, rising to the leadership positions for which they are so qualified by ruthless temperament and experience.

Things really look black, don't they? The tide of big government seems unstoppable.

Maybe it is. But maybe it isn't. When the tide comes in particularly high, then there is often a good opportunity to turn it back. It is when an invading army is fully extended that the best opportunity for counter-attack occurs. The battle of Stalingrad occurred after the German Army had flooded across southern Russia up to the foothills of the Caucasus. It was when the German Army was all strung out that the Red Army counterattacked on the neck of a great salient and forced the Germans into an epic retreat.

Now let's look at the advantages that conservatives have in the months ahead.

  • Obama is a weak leader. He may not even be a very good campaigner. He just had the good fortune to run when Republicans were utterly discredited.
  • Forty percent of Americans identify as conservatives and 40 percent identify as moderates. RIght now moderates are in the middle of cognitive dissonance. They thought they were getting a moderate, post-partisan president. Because that is how Obama sold himself to them. Ninety-fice percent of Americans would get a tax cut, they thought. It will take a while before they are fully convinced that they have been had.
  • Americans hate the things that the Obamites are doing. They hated the porkulus, they hate the cap and trade, they hate the government mucking around with their health care.
  • Conservative Americans are really getting riled up. That is the necessary foundation for a tidal change in politics. Trust that the leaders will emerge. Trust that the issues will get defined. Trust that the money will be there. But first of all you have to have enthusiasm.

You can argue that it doesn't really make any difference, that government will keep getting larger, that, as some wag said years ago, nothing ever changes until Attila the Hun rides over the horizon. All true.

But we did put the kings out to pasture. We did stop slavery. We did revolutionize life expectancy. We did create a Constitution. We did win World War II against the German Nazis and the Japanese militarists. We did win the Cold War against the Soviet Union. We did persuade the Chinese, by "soft power" rather than military might, that the future was capitalism not socialism.

Now we have the one great opportunity in a generation to turn the American people from the adolescent meaningless of the welfare state and inspire them with the vision of a sociable state.

What is a "sociable state?" It is a state where the vital work of health, education, and welfare is done by free people in sociable cooperation rather than through the compulsion of beetling government compulsion and power.

What three things is America are a mess today? Exactly. The health system, the education system, and the welfare system. Then there's the finance system as well. What is the common problem with all these messes? The government controls them in almost every detail, and it makes a complete mess of them.

The truth is inescapable. Government is hopeless and the social and compassionate work of health care, of preparing children for adulthood, and relieving the poor. There has to be a better way.

Candidate Obama promised Hope and Change. He has delivered precious little of either. How could he? Government is not the vehicle of hope and change. Government is the vehicle of force and compulsion.

But the city on a hill is still there, for America is "still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom."

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