My local newspaper runs a column fron Charles Krauthammer every Sunday. Perhaps you have read it in your newspaper, but, if you haven’t, it is worth reading whatever your political persuasion is. Here it is in its entirety.
“Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.” That was Barack Obamain 2008. And he was right. Reagan was an ideological inflection point, ending a 50-year liberal ascendancy and beginning a 30-year conservative ascendancy.
It is common for one party to take control and enact its ideological agenda. Ascendancy, however, occurs only when the opposition inevitably regains power and then proceeds to accept the basic premises of the preceding revolution.
Thus, Republicans railed for 20 years against the New Deal. Yet when they regained the White House in 1953, they kept the New Deal intact.
And when Nixon followed LBJ’s Great Society — liberalism’s second wave — he didn’t repeal it. He actually expanded it. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, gave teeth to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and institutionalized affirmative action — major adornments of contemporary liberalism.
Until Reagan. Ten minutes into his presidency, Reagan declares that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Having thus rhetorically rejected the very premise of the New Deal/Great Society, he sets about attacking its foundations — with radical tax reduction, major deregulation, a frontal challenge to unionism (breaking the air traffic controllers for striking illegally) and an (only partially successful) attempt at restraining government growth.
Reaganism’s ascendancy was confirmed when the other guys came to power and their leader, Bill Clinton, declared (in his 1996 State of the Union address) that “the era of big government is over” — and then abolished welfare, the centerpiece “relief” program of modern liberalism.
In Britain, the same phenomenon: Tony Blair did to Thatcherism what Clinton did to Reaganism. He made it the norm.
Obama’s intention has always been to re-normalize, to reverse ideological course, to be the anti-Reagan — the author of a new liberal ascendancy. Nor did he hide his ambition. In his February 2009 address to Congress he declared his intention to transform America. This was no abstraction. He would do it in three areas: health care, education and energy.
Think about that. Health care is one-sixth of the economy. Education is the future. And energy is the lifeblood of any advanced country — control pricing and production and you’ve controlled the industrial economy.
And it wasn’t just rhetoric. He enacted liberalism’s holy grail: the nationalization of health care. His $830 billion stimulus, by far the largest spending bill in U.S. history, massively injected government into the free market — lavishing immense amounts of tax dollars on favored companies and industries in a naked display of industrial policy.
And what Obama failed to pass through Congress, he enacted unilaterally by executive action. He could not pass cap-and-trade, but his EPA is killing coal. (No new coal-fired power plant would ever be built.) In 2006, liberals failed legislatively to gut welfare’s work requirement. Obama’s new HHS rules does that by fiat. Continued in a second term, it would abolish welfare reform as we know it — just as in a second term, natural gas will follow coal, as Obama’s EPA regulates fracking into noncompetitiveness.
Government grows in size and power as the individual shrinks into dependency. Until the tipping point where dependency becomes the new norm — as it is in Europe, where even minor retrenchment of the entitlement state has led to despair and, for the more energetic, rioting.
An Obama second term means that the movement toward European-style social democracy continues, in part by legislation, in part by executive decree. The American experiment — the more individualistic, energetic, innovative, risk-taking model of democratic governance — continues to recede, yielding to the supervised life of the entitlement state.
If Obama loses, however, his presidency becomes a historical parenthesis, a passing interlude of overreaching hyper-liberalism, rejected by a center-right country that is 80 percent nonliberal.
Should they summon the skill and dexterity, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could guide the country to the restoration of a more austere and modest government with more restrained entitlements and a more equitable and efficient tax code. Those achievements alone would mark a new trajectory — a return to what Reagan started three decades ago.
Every four years we are told that the coming election is the most important of one’s life. This time it might actually be true. At stake is the relation between citizen and state, the very nature of the American social contract.
What “relation between citizen and state” do you envision for your children and grandchildren? And, will the candidate you vote for, regardless of their campaign rhetoric, secure that vision?
Eloquence supreme. ?Thank you, SOS. ?Finally, the piece our lib friends may actually entertain and accept! ?Alas, however, if they were only inquisitive enough to seek the rest of the tenuous matters that lurk beneath the tip of this liberal iceberg. ?It is the message that we conservatives are aware of in our quest to be informed, but it just doesn’t get out there to the masses of Americans who rely on news sources that are less than forthcoming, bent on promoting the liberal cause. ?Patriots unite: make the Founders proud during this last push before the election to save the republic and be sure your liberal friends see this piece. ?“The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, it is just that they know so much that isn’t so.”?<span class="Apple-style-span"…
…the gibberish at the end of the quote should read as attributed to Ronal Reagan – October 27, 1964. ?
I read and listen to Charles Krauthammer every chance I get. He always talks with his brain in the “on position”. If only there were politicians that could think as clearly as Charles.
This is truly a pivotal election & the direction of the USA will be changed tomorrow.
I was too young to vote for Barry Goldwater and as foolish youth probably would not have.? In retrospect, his warning of “creeping socialism” was dead on right.? The last four years have brought us galloping socialism.?
Even if the nanny state were dismantled, how do we repair the spiritually corrosive effects of the fifty years since LBJ’s benighted “Great Society”?? Will Washington bring forth a program to redeem the unmotivated and soullessly dependent?? Isn’t that what they do?? Are we doomed?