Statism: Obama’s theory of government

February 21, 2012

Peter Wehner had a good post in Commentary last week that, while talking about Obama’s latest risible budget proposal, neatly encapsulates the statist, progressive view of the relationship between the citizen and the State, Obama’s theory of government:

These numbers are important, but they need to be understood above all as a manifestation of a particular philosophy, which some have called reactionary liberalism. Barack Obama has an almost undiluted attachment for and belief in the wondrous powers of the federal government. He believes the role of the state is to redistribute wealth and level out differences. He would trade off greater prosperity in all classes and income brackets in order to narrow the gap in income inequality, which he considers to be a moral offense. Obama wants to punish wealth creators, empower unelected bureaucrats, undermine private enterprise and centralize power.

Beyond even that, Obama wants government to weaken, and eventually replace, civil society, create greater dependency, and expand the state’s reach into every nook and cranny of life, including into the internal life of the church. And at a time when Medicare in particular is driving us toward a Greece-like crisis, the president opposes any modernization of our entitlement state and savages those who are offering up reforms.

More than any president in our lifetime, Barack Obama identifies the state with society and wants society absorbed by the state.

(Emphasis added)

Wehner calls it “reactionary liberalism,” (1) but I think Goldberg (channeling H. G. Wells) names it best: “Liberal Fascism.” The State becomes the arbiter of a vague “Will of the People” (or “Spirit of the Nation,” or whatever), speaking for the collective and knowing better than the individual what the individual needs, for the good of the whole. Forget the goosestepping images of Nazis or Mussolini’s Blackshirts, and put side the insane racial nonsense the National Socialists added to Fascism; reactionary liberalism/liberal fascism can come with a warm smile and a motherly embrace, promising all sorts of wonderful things, if only you’ll be good and let Nanny State make the choices for you.

It is the infantilization of the individual citizen.

And it would be so easy to say “yes,” which is why, in 2012, we have to say “no.”

RELATED: In a later post, Wehner cites another example, that of Nancy Pelosi’s opinion on the HHS mandate and the proper response of religious organizations: “Shut up and obey.

Footnote:
(1) Although, really, the most reactionary people I’ve ever met have been supposedly broadminded liberals. Mildly challenge even one of their dearly held dogmas (such as the success of the New Deal or the desirability of abortion on demand), and many go into full frothing-and-shrieking mode. It’s almost Pavlovian.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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America’s fork in the road: the Tea Party vs. the Occupy Movement

December 1, 2011

Here’s a good video from Encounter Books and narrated by Bill Whittle on the choice the US faces in 2012 between two populist movements: the largely classical-liberal Tea Party and the progressive-and-further-Left Occupy movement (1). The video provides a clear and succinct summary of the deep philosophical differences between the two groups, and I think you’ll find the five or so minutes it takes to watch is time well-spent:

Every four years it seems people call the approaching election “the most important in our history,” and I admit I’ve become somewhat jaded to those claims. But there’s no doubting that the sequence of elections beginning in 2008 and perhaps climaxing in 2012 is very significant. In a process that began in 1980 with Reagan’s election and that continues to this day, the two parties are developing genuine (2) and serious ideological differences, as illustrated in the video.

It may not be the “most important election in our history,” but the choice is real and the repercussions will last for a long time.

Footnotes:
(1) Although I kind of hesitate to call Occupy “genuinely populist,” given the heavy backing from Big Labor.
(2) And, in the interests of authenticity, may I suggest the Democrat Party stop holding their Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners? You’ve gone so far down the Social-Democratic road that Presidents Jefferson and Jackson would run screaming in horror. (Well, Jackson might draw a sword, instead…)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Red States Rising

November 4, 2010

The news has been full of talk about the smashing Republican victories at the federal level Tuesday, taking control of the House with the largest gain since 1948 and capturing at least six Senate seats. But I think one of the great under-reported stories of the election is the absolutely massive gains made by Republicans in both state legislatures and governorships. Just look at this map:

Follow the link for a larger, interactive version courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Like I said yesterday with regard to the House races, this is nothing short of a bloodbath for the Democrats, with Republicans winning an all-time high in state legislative seats. An article at Stateline describes the statehouse carnage:

Republicans won smashing victories in state legislatures yesterday, capturing an outright majority of the nation’s legislative seats and the largest majority for the party since 1928.

As of noon Eastern Time (11/3/10 -PF), Republicans had taken about 18 legislative chambers from Democrats, with more statehouses hanging in the balance. Democrats hadn’t picked up a single chamber from Republicans. So Republicans will have the upper hand when it comes to shaping state policy in the coming years. They’ll also be in charge in most states as policymakers redraw legislative and congressional district lines next year.

In historical terms, the most dramatic wins for the Republicans were in the South. As recently as 20 years ago, long after the region had begun voting Republican in presidential elections, Democrats held every Southern legislative chamber. After last night, Republicans will control a majority of the region’s legislative chambers for the first time since Reconstruction.

The GOP took both the North Carolina Senate and North Carolina House from the Democrats, winning the Senate for the first time since 1870. The party won both houses of the Alabama Legislature from the Democrats, which will also give the Republicans control there for the first time since Reconstruction. In Oklahoma, Republicans retained their control of the Legislature, which, coupled with their win in the governor’s race, will give the GOP complete control of state government for the first time ever. In Tennessee the story was similar: Republicans won the governorship and solidified their control of the Legislature, putting them fully in charge of the state for the first time since Reconstruction.

Check out the article behind the link for a region by region description.

Gubernatorial races were a similar story:

The fortunes of Republicans in state government improved dramatically Tuesday night, as the Grand Old Party’s nominees for governor reclaimed vast swaths of territory that Democrats staked out for the last decade. The most striking gains came in the West and the industrial Midwest. In several contests, Republican women and minorities made history by winning in their states.

With 29 governorships under their control and several more still up for grabs, Republicans appeared close to their goal of winning the top office in 30 states. The Republican dominance came even as they lost small states such as Connecticut, Rhode Island and Hawaii, along with population-rich California.

(…)

Republican victories included ousting the governors in Ohio and Iowa; wresting away open seats currently held by Democrats in Michigan, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Wyoming; and successfully defending Republican seats in Arizona, South Carolina, Florida and Texas.

One obvious impact this will have is on redistricting, as touched on in the first article quoted,  and one can expect the legislatures controlled by the Republicans -especially when the governor is also a Republican- to draw lines favorable to their own party. Yes, I’ve said before that I’m opposed to gerrymandering, but also that we might as well take advantage of the rules while they’re in place.

Aside from redistricting, though, this sea change in state control may have several other significant effects:

First, there’s the likelihood of better governance. While I don’t have hard data, I suspect many of these new legislators and governors arose from the Tea Party or won with Tea Party support, which means a committment to limited government, low taxes, and sound fiscal practices as a foundation for prosperity. I expect we’ll see several states with bloated governments start to seriously pare them back. Justice Brandeis once said that the states are the laboratories of democracy; if, as I expect, state economies fare well as a result of this pruning, that will put pressure on other bloated states (Hi, California and New York!) and the federal government to do the same.

Also, control of legislatures and governorships will act as a training ground for promising politicians to move up to the federal level, much like a farm league in baseball. Particularly for legislators, being in the majority will provide experience in bearing the real responsibilities of governance, instead of just sitting in the minority and hectoring the other side. This will be invaluable in training the next generation of federal leaders.

Finally, it’s possible that, with a majority of states under the control of a conservative party wary of federal intrusion, we may see more demands for Washington to respect the 10th amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

I’m not expecting a revolutionary change, of course, but more likely incremental efforts that slow federal expansion and start to roll it back; we can expect that the federal bureaucracy, the Democrats, and their progressive allies to resist this, devoted as they are to one-size-fits-all statism. I do believe we’ll see more states join the anti-Obamacare lawsuits that, at last count, had 18-20 states joined in one suit, with Virginia pursuing its own. As someone who firmly believes that a decentralized federalism is the best way to govern a nation as vast and diverse as the United States, I’d call this a good thing.

So, while I’m sorry (so sorry) that California bucked the national trend, I’m more than ever convinced that November 2nd, 2010, was not just a good day, but a great day for Republicans, conservatives, and the nation.

LINKS: More from Moe Lane.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Americans to bossy government: “Shut up and go away!”

October 24, 2010

Michael Barone looks at the President’s recent theory of why his party is about to get an unholy beating at the polls next month and offers his own three theses: First is that the Progressive theory of History, that it inevitably moves leftward and toward bigger government is demonstrably untrue. After the vast expansions of government under Wilson and FDR (and statist Republicans like Nixon), for example, there were corresponding periods of moving toward deregulation.

Second is the realization among most Americans (if not left-liberals) that government that grows too large becomes a danger to the real engine of wealth creation, the private sector. The electorate is drawing a connection between the anemic job creation numbers in most of the nation (except Texas) and the statist, interventionist, regulation-happy policies of the (Social) Democrats, and they’re moving to correct things.

The third reason, the one perhaps that’s felt most viscerally, is that voters are becoming sick and tired of being bossed around by government and are going to remind the “public servants” just who the boss is here:

Voters who have learned to navigate their way through life may not believe that they need Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to set the terms and conditions of their health insurance policies, as Obamacare authorizes her to do. “Don’t tread on me,” read the flags at Tea Party rallies. That’s not a contradiction of “facts and science.” It’s an insistence that the Obama Democrats’ policies would strangle freedoms and choke off growth. You may disagree. But if so, it looks like you’re in the minority this year.

Call it a revolt against the nanny state or a revival of Americans’ traditional suspicion of government, but it looks like “Get out of my face!” is one of the big messages the voters are sending to Washington this year.

LINKS: I wrote about the President’s comments a few days ago. At Big Government, Robert Bonelli looks at what’s at stake in the midterms and asks “Are we citizens or subjects?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Big Green and the enviro-statist agenda, part 2

October 6, 2010

Last week, PJTV presented the first in its three-part series on the politics of the environmental movement, presenting an overview of its goals and its relationship with government, particularly the Democratic Party and the administrative state.

This week, Joe Hicks and his guests take a closer look at the origins of the movement in the 1960s left-wing counterculture,  the large sums of money they have to spend, and their alliance with big business* to push harmful measures such as cap-and-trade:

*(Don’t be surprised. As Goldberg pointed out in Liberal Fascism, there’s a natural urge in big corporations to ally with statists if if means guaranteed profits and restrictions on smaller competitors. Think of the utilities under FDR, or the deals the big insurance and pharmaceutical companies almost cut with the administration over ObamaCare. The cooperation between Big Green and Big Business highlighted in this video is just another example.)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Beware the racist toddler, revisited

October 3, 2010

More than two years ago, I wrote about a mind-numbingly offensive UK government program to spot early signs of racism in infants and pre-school children:

Does your three-year old sometimes refuse to play with others? Does he occasionally turn his nose up at new foods? Could it be that, rather than simply being behavior normal to all toddlers, these are early-warning signs that your baby is a racist??

Well, two years and a quarter-million children later, we now know the vast size of this generation of tiny Klan members:

Three-year-olds being labelled bigots by teachers as 250,000 children accused of racism

Teachers are being forced to report children as young as three to the authorities for using alleged ‘racist’ language, it was claimed last night.

Munira Mirza, a senior advisor to London Mayor Boris Johnson, said schools were being made to spy on nursery age youngsters by the Race Relations Act 2000.

More than a quarter of a million children have been accused of racism since it became law, she said.

Writing in Prospect magazine, she said: ‘The more we seek to measure racism, the more it seems to grow.

‘Teachers are now required to report incidents of racist abuse among children as young as three to local authorities, resulting in a massive increase of cases and reinforcing the perception that we need an army of experts to manage race relations from cradle to grave.

‘Does this heightened awareness of racism help to stamp it out? Quite the opposite. It creates a climate of suspicion and anxiety.’

There’s an old saying: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Convinced that racism is everywhere, these multicultural loons are tarring thousands of young children as little proto-fascists. Are they now to be watched throughout their school years? Counseled against the dark racist thoughts that lurk ever within them? Taught to suspect the culture and the parents who must have instilled these hateful prejudices in them? Why not just take them away from their parents and indoctrinate raise them in community creches?

Maybe, just maybe, if a three-year old doesn’t want to eat curry, it’s because he doesn’t like it, not because he hates Pakistanis.

Dear British educators: WTF??

(via theblogprof)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Big Green and the enviro-statist agenda – updated!

October 1, 2010

Readers of Public Secrets know that I’ve been highly critical (and contemptuous and mocking) of the anthropogenic global warming movement and its silly thesis that mankind is turning this planet into a Steam Bath of Doom. But there’s a larger environmental movement than just the global warming sector, and its goals are ambitious. Far beyond what we would think of as prudent conservation and good stewardship of the land, water, and air, the broader environmental movement seeks the centralization of authority over the environment (and thus us) in Washington and in transnational regulatory agencies. It is well-funded (often with our tax dollars), it is politically powerful, and it is a danger to our prosperity and liberty.

PJTV has begun a series that looks at the environmental movement. Hosted by Joe Hicks, it examines who the players are, where they get their money, and what their goals are. I think it’s well-worth watching for an alternative and critical point of view:

I’ll post follow-up episodes as they appear on PJTV’s YouTube channel.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

UPDATE: I missed this until late today, but apparently some eco-fascist group in Britain made a short film to convince people of the need to combat global warming… by showing children who doubt the AGW truth being blown up. Graphically and messily. You can read all about it at Hot Air, but Iowahawk has the best take on it. James Delingpole calls this a massive “own goal” for the Green Statists. Just amazing.