How is it that America, the greatest country in human history appears to be in the suicidal process of nominating two clowns in the 2016 election? Both presumed nominees are utterly unqualified and unprepared to lead the nation – and their lack of qualifications in this particularly dangerous time presages even faster decline than has occurred under the “hope’nchange” of Barack Obama. Both are famous, one for a “reality” TV show and having a big mouth, the other for being married to (and aggressively defending the various bimbo eruptions of) Bill Clinton, not to mention a trail of controversy and scandal going back 40 years.
It is happening because we have become an un-serious, immature, self-indulgent adolescent people with very short time horizons and a flea-level attention span. We have become the antithesis of the generations that preceded us, generations whose lives were built on the premise that here, in the “land of opportunity”, a man (which we have since expanded to women) could make his own way, create his own reality, go as far as his talents would take him and create an environment where his kids could have a better life. What they were aiming at when they raised their kids was to have their kids have character, strength, purpose to face a tough and demanding world. We have raised ours to be happy in the shallowest way imaginable and their character reflects that upbringing.
Those days, when we were “the land of the free” are long gone, submerged in a tsunami of federal regulation ( 70,000 new pages last year alone) and increased taxes whose purpose is redistribution – by politicians – of vast sums of money raised at the point of a gun and spent promiscuously, including the buying of votes by a dependent class cultivated for precisely that purpose. The average citizen knows he’s not going to get all the Social Security or Medicare he’s got coming and, to some extent, has paid for – but he doesn’t know because he hasn’t been told, that on average retirees end up taking out of Medicare almost 3 times what they put in. It has been called unsustainable for 30 years and its inability to sustain itself is starting to become too plain to ignore, although many will try to paint over the cracks. Neither candidate embraces any sort of reform or revitalization of so-called “entitlements”, dooming the population to a really drastic change in the not-so-distant future.
There are several reasons for this decline in our country’s fortunes, starting with a parallel decline in our moral character, not the least of which is the emergence of the “participation trophy”. Whatever shortcomings we had in being true to the ideal, we used to embrace the idea of meritocracy, of earned success. “Everybody gets a trophy” has led inexorably to a generation of snowflakes who need “safe spaces” and worry about “microaggressions” and discount the value of the First Amendment while their colleagues use politics to get ahead.
There are other processes at work, most of them having to do with allowing politics to invade and infect the civil society whose protection -from politics! – and vitality used to be what made America unique, and which is the key mission of the government as designed by the Framers. Politics corrupts anything it touches, which is why the Framers tried to limit its influence in their new republic. They specifically made a case to keep politics out of religion. They’d have done even better to have kept politics (largely) out of commerce, science, entertainment, mass media, even foreign policy.
Some of our politicians, in fact an entire political party, has designs on “running the country”. Politicians don’t “run the country”, what they run is the government. When the federal government is kept constrained “by the chains of the Constitution”, they really don’t “get a vote” on very much. We elected in 2008 and again in 2012 a radical Marxist who vowed to “fundamentally transform” the country. Ever wonder what he meant by that? I’ll tell you: He wants MORE government injected into your life –usually “for your own good”, and in every nook and detail of your life. Why should you decide how to take care of your health, or how to pay for it? Why should you get to keep most of the money you earn in (presumably) honest labor? Why do you think you ever need access to an AR15 “assault weapon” for personal safety? Why do you resist the requirement that guns be made exclusively “smart”? What makes you think we should have immigration laws actually enforced? You a racis’.
These politicians believe in an ethic of “politics uber alles”, because they plan to stay in power, where they can achieve even more mischief. They fracture the country by dividing it into little groups, creating constituencies based on identity politics that they can mold and manipulate through a compliant mass media and the granting of small favors to those groups. They save the big favors for their donors while lambasting them in public (see: Sachs, Goldman). In the worst examples, they appear to be taking money – lots of money – in trade for favors from the government or looking the other way when that’s what’s required by the crooks.
And it’s not just the politicians. The people themselves appear to have adopted a new set of beliefs, beliefs that have historically been antithetical to the American character. Self-reliance is outre; being a victim is in. Earning your way is out; redistribution has a new constituency, the one you’d expect, which is to say, those people on the receiving end of the redistribution. The ones being redistributed from? Not so much, usually, but who cares about them? They’re a minority of voters, and they’ve already got plenty. There’s no difference between women and men. “Health care is a right”. (Only) Black Lives Matter. College campuses are hotbeds of rape. Etc, etc, etc.
We have allowed ourselves to excuse bald faced lies from our “leaders”, about the ACA, about the Iran deal, about dozens of other things. We stand by as the IRS weaponizes itself on behalf of this president, nobody cares and it largely goes unreported. The VA makes an enormous mess of its mission, the Secretary falls on his sword, everybody else is still collecting performance bonuses. The OPM hack, committed by a newly emboldened China, claims one bureaucrat but puts 22M highly sensitive personnel records in the hands of people who plan to make themselves our worst adversary and are rapidly funding a vast array of military capabilities to make that dream a possibility. Few in Washington ever gets fired, and it is tritely common to use the revolving door of “public service” to grow huge contact bases and then fortunes in the quasi-private or even educational sector.
In this environment, if you’re for lower taxes and spending, less regulation, in general a smaller government that tries to do fewer things but does those well, PER THE CONSTITUTION, why, you’re a racist and a bomb thrower and an extremist, even though what you’re advocating is pretty close to what the Framers had in mind.
Long story short, we are getting the government, as always, that we deserve. The fact that our elites are criminally complicit, lie to us without blinking, sell out our country’s interests for millions of dollars is simply ignored, apparently because admitting that those things exist would require more of a response than simply hoping and changing, a response more likely to require a rope and a tree branch or at least an invitation to the Gray Bar Hotel.
And it goes deeper than just an election. We need better politicians to be sure. But we need to improve ourselves too. We need to resurrect and revitalize the ethos of self-reliance, of minimal government, of civil society. We need to rebuild American families so they become the primary building block of our civilization, not gender or racial of sexual preference identity. We have thrown out the baby with the bath water. We need some personal discipline, respect for law, belief in markets. We can improve on the beliefs that won WWII (see “Airmen, Tuskegee”) across a broad moral spectrum.
But capitalism without the cronyism that comes from excessive government is what made us rich; being a republic of laws that didn’t “privilege” the famous or the elites is what made us free. We discard those traditions at our peril.
And this requirement for self-improvement, a better civic culture, will never end. Because freedom and broad economic vitality are not the norms of human existence, they are rare and unique. And protecting those institutions requires lots of vigilance, self-knowledge and self-criticism, the courage to see the value of our way of life and engage to maintain their strengths.
No better time to start than right now.Tags: America