Monday, August 13, 2012

Ending the futility of political trench warfare

For too long, politicians of both parties have ducked our country’s ominous entitlements problems and have struggled to make incremental gains in position that have resulted in small, and sometimes only temporary, victories on peripheral issues by one or the other party, but have caused the nation to become completely bogged down in resolving the larger conflict of which entitlements represent a key component – to wit, the free society vs. the provider state.

In choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has paid the American people the supreme compliment of assuming that they are ready for a serious national conversation on some of the most serious threats to our political and economic freedom that we have faced in our history: run-away government spending, crushing deficits, the regulatory stranglehold of government on free enterprise, and the likely collapse of the social safety net in the absence of legitimate reform.

Whether the compliment is deserved, or whether many of us will wake up the day after the election to find out that we have been involuntarily enrolled in a national suicide pact, remains to be seen. But the line in the sand has been drawn, and I prefer to know sooner rather than later what kind of country we have become. Are we a nation whose citizenry is capable of making intelligent choices based on logic, genuine fairness and a veneration for our hereditary liberty, or are we just a heterogeneous mix of parlor radicals, self-perceived sans-culottes, and tractable sheep, wallowing in ignorance and envy, ruled by base emotions, and bawling for the heads of our mythical “oppressors”? Stay tuned.


Michael Lonie said...

The Founders believed that only a virtuous people could be free. The revotutinaries spent a good deal of time, during the Revolutionary War, wondering if they had the virtue necessary for winning and maintaining their liberty.

We are now faced by the same question. Can the American people restrain their impulses and appetites to put the good of the country ahead of their narrow self-interest and envy of other people? In Romney and Ryan, the Packs are fielding a team that calls on the people to restrain themselves,to control their appetites, and to refuse the call to hate and oppress other people because they have a bit more wealth than you do, to eschew the politics of envy. The Obama Administration is seeking reelection on the platform of encouraging base appetites, envy, and especially racial and class hatred. It has no accomplishments to speak of, so it can run on nothing but calls to baseness and lying smears of their opponents. We could hardly ask for a clearer choice.

The ultimate issue is: Are the American people, taken as a whole, fit for self-government? In the history of New York City in the 1960s and 1970s, and in the picture we see today of California, New York, and other basnkrupt states, there is evidence that the answer is No. It would be ironic if, after pushing so long for other countries to adopt democracy, we proved, through irresponsible financial collapse fueled by greed and artificial class hatred, that democracy does not work.

Lincoln spoke of the Civil War testing the American experiment in self-government. Today we are faced by another test of that experiment, for dependency on the goodwill of bureaucrats and wielders of political influence destroys liberty. Those conditions were part of what the Revolutionaries were fighting against. We are already far along the road to serfdom, but we may yet find the way back to liberty, if we have the virtue our forebears had.

Obama and the Dems are leading us on the path that Argentina followed many years ago, crony capitalism and corporatism. In Argentina's case it turned a prosperous, advanced nation into a sinkhole of poverty, political gangsterism, and corruption. This election is probably our last chance to avoid that fate, for by 2016 too many people will depend on the Federal Government for filling their rice bowls and providing their (inferior and rationed) medical care to turn back towards liberty. Who will vote for liberty over narrow self-interest then, if it means breaking your own rice bowl and endangering your family's standard of living? The Packs, like the Tories in Britain, will become the party of "we can provide your goodies better than can the Dems, but we'll change nothing."

This election has been compared to that of 1980 in its importance. I suspect it is even more important. I think this election is about two very different ways of life or culture, that of liberty and free institutions versus that of corporatiem and collectivism. It's the Tea Party versus the Occupiers. The Packs stand, at least at this time, for the former; the Dems stand foursquare for the latter. We have not had an election over such disparate cultures since 1860.

Paco said...

Extremely well put, Michael.

Reminds me of a question Bill Buckley posed many years ago: does democracy have the right to commit suicide?

Michael Lonie said...

I suppose that, if Vox populi means vox Dei, it does have such a right. What we are seeing today in many places is the truth of Robert Heinlein's translation of that phrase as: "My God, how did we get into this mess?"

On the other hand, most of our problems are ones that were devised, with stunning success, by the best and brightest and the ones who cared most for the little guy (just ask them, they'll tell you they do). And in the process of driving the economy of the country into the ground, they made a bundle. Look at Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorlick, Dem operatives who made gobs of money off Fannie and Freddie while ruining those "government supported enterprises." The Fed was asleep at the switch over banking oversight in the runup to 2008, even as its monetary policy helped bring about the crash. The more government tries to "help" we poor peons, the worse things get for us. But the pols and their cronies and clients, especially leftie ones like at Solyndra, end up rich.

Deadman said...

Alcuin quotes the saying, “Vox populi, vox dei”, as already (in 798) an aphorism, but not true: “Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.”—“Those ought not be heard who are accustomed to say, ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God’, since the tumult of the mob is ever close to madness.”

smitty1e said...

Well said, sir.

Walla Walla Tea Party Patriots said...

Well said, all of you. You are duly linked.