By Diogenes Sarcastica
Tuesday, May 25
In 1989, historian David Hackett Fischer described America as having “a social system which for two centuries has remained stubbornly democratic in its politics, capitalist in its economy, libertarian in its laws, individualist in its society and pluralistic in its culture.” A good description at the time, but the two decades since have seen the emergence of a political class engaged, either deliberately or recklessly, in tearing apart the American social fabric. Now there is a movement across the land to mend those tears and restore the American social system.
This movement is apparent in two co-occurring phenomena — the Tea Party and the surging interest in libertarian philosophy. Those of the political class, Democrats and Republicans alike, have reacted badly to these phenomena. Many establishment Republicans kept their distance from the Tea Party movement until the Massachusetts Senate election; now, it seems, there is a rush by prospective candidates to claim that “I am a Tea-Partier, too,” even though many of them are not. The Democrats alternate, sometimes rapidly, between slandering and scoffing at the Tea Party. Witness the immediate Democratic reaction to mildly-libertarian, Tea-Party-endorsed Rand Paul’s primary win in Kentucky — the slanderfest began within 24 hours. Meanwhile, Rand Paul and those like him continue to rise in popularity, while the audiences for libertarian commentators like John Stossel and Glenn Beck continue to increase.
Those of the political class of course pay lip-service homage to American social traditions — but it is not what they say, but what they do that counts. Analyzed in terms of David Hackett Fischer’s description, the list of offenses by the political class against America is lengthy and damning:
"Capitalistic in its Economy" — The political class, Republican and Democrat alike, have worked assiduously to replace free-enterprise capitalism with a Federally-run mercantilism. In the world of Federal mercantilism, politicians and bureaucrats pick the economic winners and losers, bestowing blessings on favored industries (ethanol) and or on connected companies within industries. The free market is increasingly viewed as an annoyance, if not a hindrance. Despite the recent catastrophic failure of social engineering by economic manipulation, we hear calls for more “regulation.” In Federally-run mercantilism, the “cure” for failure is more of the same. Barack Obama condemned George Bush for overspending the Federal budget by $300 billion or so per year — but his “cure” is to overspend the Federal budget by $1.3 trillion per year. And don’t kid yourself that our state governments are any better — Federal mercantilism applies to them, too, and the Federally-controlled flow of money, the picking of winners and losers, mandates that they play by the same rules.
"Libertarian in its Laws" – The political class, Supreme Court included, has “re-interpreted” the Constitution and has adopted new laws which are distinctly anti-libertarian — inimical to liberty. The Kelo decision by the U. S. Supreme Court typifies this terrible trend. The framers of the Constitution sought to guarantee that government would not seize the property of citizens except for public uses and that citizens whose property was taken would be justly compensated. In the brave new world of Federal mercantilism, any government can take anyone’s property and turn it over to a favored person or company on the bare promise that the favored one will someday pay more taxes. In the libertarian concept, the government is obligated to protect its citizens from the crimes and depredations of exploiters, but now the government plays the role of accessory to the crime. Again, don’t kid yourselves by thinking that state governments are any better — most of them apply the “law” exactly as it was stated in Kelo.
"Individualist in its Society and Pluralistic in its Culture" — What we see now are “identity politics” and “wedge issues.” The Democrats have won control of Congress and the White House with these tactics — the Republicans are not guiltless, but the Democrats are far better at such things. This sorry state of affairs has recently been exemplified by the attacks on the Arizona illegal-immigration law, which was condemned publicly by Democratic officials who hadn’t bothered to read the law in question, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Most of what the liberal Democrats have said about the law is false, but in the world of identity politics and wedge issues truth does not matter; all that counts is hammering away at the wedge.
Fischer wrote of the “stability” of the social system which he described in 1989. Perhaps that stability has not been entirely lost — one interpretation of the restoration movement is that the system is re-asserting itself, preparing to roll back the wrongs of the political class.
Most of those engaged in the movement are not political types — if they had any involvement in politics before, it was tangential or sporadic. Instead, they are folks who would rather be raising their families, minding their business, tending their properties, and otherwise living (not talking about) the American dream. Their involvement in a political process bears witness to a serious purpose. Their willingness to suffer the slanderous beat-downs that the political class visits upon such upstarts testifies to a stoic determination to see things through to the finish.
Fortunately, America is still democratic in its politics and so we still have the vote. The restoration movement aims to stop the destruction of the traditional American social system and I hope it can muster the votes to make a difference in the November elections.