Friday, March 21, 2008

"Change" a red herring: Unlimited government is the problem


Democrats in general, I would submit, confuse change with improvement. They fail to weigh the costs and benefits of change, to consider its unintended consequences, or to worry about what we need to conserve and how we might go about doing that faithfully. They ask Americans to embrace change for its own sake, in the faith that history is governed by a law of progress, which guarantees that change is almost always an improvement. The ability to bring about historical change, then, becomes the highest mark of the liberal leader. Thus Hillary Clinton quickly joined Obama on the change bandwagon. Her initial claim of "experience" sounded in retrospect a bit too boring-indeed, almost Republican in its plainness. So "Ready on Day One" signs morphed into "Ready for Change."

As for John McCain, he doesn't really have a slogan, unless we count "Mac is Back." McCain differentiated himself from Romney by saying that he is a leader rather than a manager. A leader, McCain argued, appeals to patriotism rather than self-interest. Certainly McCain's leading characteristic is his personal honor, which-unlike many republican men of honor-he talks about a lot and in public. He fits the traditional category of a war hero-turned-politician, but with one important difference. Usually war heroes are victorious generals, whereas McCain is famous as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, a war that ended in defeat. This fact helps to explain the somewhat prickly and self-referential quality to his sense of honor. He despises self-interest and likes to say so frequently in public, whether it's the self-interest involved in campaign contributions (which he wants to regulate), attitudes towards illegal immigration (he imputes to its critics the most selfish motives), or even something like waterboarding (a kind of selfish act, motivated by an urgent sense of national interest). McCain stands against all considerations of low self-interest-or maybe any self-interest-in favor of doing the honorable thing, which sometimes turns out to mean simply doing the thing that John McCain wants to do.

Utterly missing in this election season is a serious focus on limited or constitutional government. The Democrats, generally speaking, want more government, not less, so their neglect of the issue is to be expected. But the Republican dereliction is more troubling. It represents a falling away from the standards of Ronald Reagan's conservatism-a decline already reflected in the "compassionate conservatism" of George W. Bush. After 9/11, many prominent conservatives-e.g., George Will, David Brooks, Fred Barnes -pronounced that small government conservatism is dead. That awful reminder of the dangerous world we live in, and of the need to defend ourselves, somehow meant that big government conservatism, as they called it, was now the only game in town. Conservatives would need to make their peace with this idea, they argued, in order to win future elections....

From a certain point of view-let's call it, for shorthand purposes, the libertarian point of view, or the view associated this year with Ron Paul-every dollar that government spends comes at the cost of freedom. The premise of this view is that government and freedom are opposites-that all government is oppression. By this way of thinking, limited government is simply limited oppression, differing in magnitude but not in kind from tyranny. Interestingly, this notion does not come originally from any libertarian thinker or friend of freedom. It comes from Machiavelli, the great analyst of open and hidden power, of force and fraud. From Machiavelli's point of view, there's no difference between just and unjust government, which are the same phenomenon called by different names. All government, whether considered to be just or unjust, is oppression. Just government is the kind we happen to agree with and profit from, and unjust is the opposite kind.

Against this view stand the American Founders and the greatest statesmen, who have always sharply distinguished between just and unjust-or between free and tyrannical-forms of government. What is the Declaration of Independence but a great meditation on the difference between the absolute despotism contemplated by King George III and the freedom that the Americans hoped to enjoy under their own form of self-government? The Declaration does not proclaim that just government is merely less oppressive than unjust government-as if the American republic and, say, Nazi Germany were separated only by degrees of tyranny. Our ancestors thought that republican governments like ours were good because, grounded in human nature and operating by law and consent, they affirmed human liberty.

Much more here

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your summary of Obama news and commentary at OBAMA WATCH

1 comment:

mikebenton said...

Forget the "race" issue with the Reverend...a greater damger than his ranting is his doctine. He is a socialist...a Christian communist. That philosophy is very dangerous. A fellow preacher speaking on Hannity's show said, in summary: With Wright it is GOD-Governent-the individual; in the US culture up to now it is GOD- the indivdual- government.
In a nut shell this is the root of their drive for big government programs like health care, no school vouchers, etc. And explains the Robinhood notion of "tax" the rich to feed the poor. We are lucky we heard about the Rev's crack pot speaches,otherwise they my have pushed thru to victory for Obama and started a possibly unstopable move to socialism.