Anyone that knows anything about my politics has to know that there’s not much in this bill that I like. I’m a Conservative-Libertarian, and I’m going to oppose almost anything that increases the size of the State and decreases citizens liberty. This bill does both, and in a huge amount. This bill’s whole purpose is increased government control of our lives for one purpose: power. It’s not about helping people. If it does end up helping a small percentage of Americans, that’s an unintentional side effect. Anyone that thinks differently are pawns of those in power.
My strongest emotion to this whole debacle isn’t anger, though — it’s sadness. This countries leadership truly “crossed the Rubicon“, as Victor Davis Hanson says. This mess will make the last decade of “divisive politics” and “polarization” seem like singing Kumbaya by the campfire in comparison. Obama has proved himself to be one heck of a divider, and I don’t think this country can heal from this breach of trust for a long, long time. What’s the precedent set here? It’s that the winner in an election is given free reign to do whatever they think is right, regardless of the current will of the people. Expect to hear, “We won; get over it,” with each change in leadership, with greater and greater swings of abuses. From Megan McArdle over at The Atlantic:
Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority? Republicans and other opponents of the bill did their job on this; they persuaded the country that they didn’t want this bill. And that mattered basically not at all. If you don’t find that terrifying, let me suggest that you are a Democrat who has not yet contemplated what Republicans might do under similar circumstances. Farewell, Social Security! Au revoir, Medicare! The reason entitlements are hard to repeal is that the Republicans care about getting re-elected. If they didn’t–if they were willing to undertake this sort of suicide mission–then the legislative lock-in you’re counting on wouldn’t exist.
So, if you’re cheering on this “historic accomplishment”, just remember that our government works on precedents, and the Democratic leadership set a huge one here, and not a good one.
On my way to work today, my wife and I happened across a bit of insight. We’re recently back from an event where Leonard Nimoy was present, and I remembered his famous lines from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
Captain Spock: Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh…
Kirk: …the needs of the few.
Captain Spock: Or the one. I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper.
This came up in a conversation about how socialism views the proper place of the individual and the status of the State. Namely, that socialism teaches that individuals are just cogs in the machine in service of the almighty State, and it’s from that State that all rights and responsibilities are derived. I think Spock’s words — I’m sure very unintentionally — jibe well with this outlook. If his words are axiomatic, then it follows that the primary responsibility of the person must be in the service of the community — or in a larger sense, the State. This is dangerous stuff, as seen in places like the Soviet Union and the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia. Still, it certainly feels right, doesn’t it? I would add this corollary to the above:
The rights of the individual outweigh the rights of the many.
These two moral guidelines, I think, describe a sort of Christian libertarianism. Anyway, interesting.
The Financial Post out of the Great White North posted an editorial by Terence Corcoran asking, is this the end of America? Yes, perhaps a bit over the top. But. Is it really? He gets himself out of hyperbolic screed territory by noting that how you define “America” is awfully important, and not just focusing on the two months of disgrace our political class has shown the world. They’re both important. The President has been very forthright that he intends on changing everything. If allowed to skip down the road he says he wants us to go down, America would, indeed, not look anything like it has in the past. A significant minority of people in this country would count this has a great thing, our President and Congressional leadership included.
This paragraph is key:
One test of whether we are witnessing the end of America is how many more times Americans put up with congressional show trials of individual business people and their employees, slandering and vilifying them for their actions and motives. And for how long will they tolerate a President who berates business and corporations as dens of crime and malfeasance? If the majority of Americans come to accept the caricatures of business as true, then America is closer to the end of its life as a global leader, as a champion of markets and individualism.
Here’s the problem: while they try to keep the voter’s eye on the end goal, somewhere in the future, the whole thing is falling apart in the present. It’s not going to work. The end gambit isn’t some post-modern, quasi-socialist better-than-Europe Utopia, but nothing less than hacking off America’s legs and arms, and removing us from the world’s leadership through economic and social destruction. Now, this possible future is way down the road, too. The key is to not get caught up with the promises of a New Day, but pay attention to what’s happening now. If what’s going on in Washington doesn’t pass the sniff test, it probably is what you think it is.