Saturday, November 17, 2012
Edmund Burke wrote his Reflections on the Revolution in France, in which he predicted that overthrow of the old order there by social radicals would soon result in terror, tyranny, and copious bloodshed. As it turned out, he was absolutely right. In the wake of last week's Presidential election in the United States, I'm beginning to think we may be witnessing our own disastrous revolution--for now somewhat quieter and gentler, but also pointing straight to national calamity. And in ours, even the counter-revolutionaries are helping out.
It's hard for me to make sense out of this election. The economy is still barely limping along; our national debt is beyond the stratosphere and climbing fast; civil liberties are shrinking steadily; illegal immigrants continue to flood in and burden public funds and services; foreign wars drag on; our embassies are under siege and diplomats left to die; our government is undermining allies and aiding our enemies . . . the list goes on and on. Pre-election surveys and polls generally indicated that most likely voters disapproved of Obama's job performance, agreed more closely with the Republican approach to national problems, and showed greater enthusiasm for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan than they did for the Democratic ticket. How is it, then that an apparent majority of Americans has voted to continue the march toward national oblivion?
There is always the possibility of vote fraud, intimidation, and suppression, but there hasn't been any concrete proof along this line apart from the scattered anecdotes usually encountered in high-stakes national elections. Diligent research may uncover more evidence, but I wouldn't count on the liberal establishment media reporting it, even if it's discovered.
Was it low turnout among the disaffected, perhaps combined with higher-than-expected turnout among the Obama regime's defenders? There is solid evidence that this had much to do with the outcome. I'm mortified but not completely surprised, given the whining I've heard for many months from those who take a dim view of the President and his crowd, but seem to revel in criticizing the Republican Party generally (of which many are members) and Mitt Romney in particular: the party is too "right-wing" or not right-wing enough; Romney is "too liberal" or "too conservative"; he's too wealthy or too petty bourgeois; he's not "sympathetic" enough or not "tough" enough, etc. Many of these self-righteous complainers style themselves as "independents" or "moderates" who like to pontificate from a distance but won't risk commitment to a side they're afraid might not turn out the winner. Others think of themselves as sword-wieldinig conservative or libertarian revolutionaries who won't abide anything less that crystalline ideological purity in their candidate. And, I suspect, there were more than a few religious purists who couldn't bring themselves to associate with a Mormon (or even with his Roman Catholic running mate). This was widely deemed the most important Presidential election since at least 1932 (Hoover vs. Roosevelt), and perhaps since 1860, when the country was literally coming apart over slavery and secession, and Abraham Lincoln "won" with a distinct minority of the national vote. Yet, the 2012 election may have been effectively decided by sideline grumblers, nit-pickers, and tut-tutters unwilling to dirty their clothes on the playing field. In the further calamities to come I hope they remember the axiom that in a democracy, those who don't vote have no right to complain about the government.
As for those who did pony up and put their votes where their mouths were--God bless you! Now we can only pray that we don't end up like ancient Christians huddled in a lion-filled Roman arena.
For a much more sinister message from this election--actually, from Obama's election in 2008--is that America is now ruled by a coalition of those who depend on government for all or much of their livelihood, either by benefit check or pay check, together with those in the media, academia, and big business establishments who are government's biggest promoters, servicers, and suppliers. This would seem to include most blacks and Hispanics (together about 28 percent of the electorate), as well as public employees, unionized workers, those employed in "bailed-out" industries, most college students, and recipients of welfare, food stamps, Medicaid/Medicare, federal disability payments, long-term unemployment benefits, and publicly-funded housing, health care, and day care. That's not to say that ALL of these people voted for Obama--for example, the elderly generally remain in the Republican camp despite their reliance on help delivered by or through government--but the vast majority of them almost certainly did. Add to this activist gays and most younger single women (read: abortion rights and "free" contraception), who feel more comfortable with morally relaxed Democrats than with straighter-laced Republicans, and you have the recipe for a huge--and growing--constituency. That constituency and its interests are relentlessly promoted and insulated from criticism by an eagerly compliant media applying a doctrine of political correctness (vigorously cultivated in the academic/cultural/entertainment establishments) that deems any other interest or any resistance to theirs "racism" and "extremism." How many people with fairly conservative "family" values (I'm thinking of Catholics and a goodly number of younger Protestants here) voted Democrat out of a good-faith, but misguided, sense of "charity" toward the "less fortunate"? How many people not otherwise disposed to vote the Democrat ticket did so, or just stayed home, mostly because they felt "ashamed" to support two white, male, business-oriented Republicans? And how many moderate-to-conservative people have now had their freedom and judgment compromised by at least partial dependence on a government subsidy, directly or through public support of their employers?
It's a simple application of the old saying, "He who pays the piper calls the tune." Or, "I owe my soul to the company store." There's also the updated Democrat Party version, "Government is the only thing that we all belong to." And now, it seems, a majority of Americans have come to accept that bondage, or have resigned themselves to it. Apparently they decided that Obama/Biden was more likely to keep the pipelines of government support flowing freely and amply than was Romney/Ryan. Evidently most of them now like the idea of a powerful state looking after their every need, birth to death, so they don't have to worry about things so much. They've forgotten, if they every knew, the late President Gerald Ford's sage observation that "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have."
What they don't see, or don't care about, is what they--we--will have to exchange for the security they think they're buying. No benefit comes without a price. Higher taxes are one obvious result, but then only half of us at best pay those, so what do the rest have to worry about on that score, right? If they knew some history and a little economics they might realize that when the well runs dry because a dwindling group of producers has been taxed beyond its ability or willingness to support an ever-expanding welfare class, expropriation, tyranny, and wars to seize foreign resources usually follow in succession. More insidious and dangerous is the control over thought, speech, and action that indentured servitude to the government entails. Bureaucrats aren't going to continue supporting those who criticize or obstruct them. We have already seen this played out between the federal and state governments; the states surrendered control over their own affairs years ago in exchange for large-scale federal funding (for highways, education, public health, etc.) and now find themselves sued and deprived of the money they depend on for daring to pass laws on such issues as immigration, abortion, education, and the environment that the federal government decides are inconsistent with its policies de jour. What sort of leverage will the federal government have over individuals when it gains functional control of the health care individuals depend on for their very lives?
In short, we're seeing a fundamental shift in the values subscribed to by a majority of Americans. Now security and collective interests are more important than individual freedom and the opportunity to better oneself--more important than freedom of conscience and expression, more than the sanctity of life and of marriage, more than international peace and the stature of America and its allies in the world. We're headed down the same dead-end socialist/secularist road as European countries like Spain, Greece, and even Britain and France, a road that leads only to national bankruptcy on spiritual as well as material levels. And most of us, preoccupied with bread and circuses, seem OK with that.
Meanwhile, counterproductive squabbling has broken out among various Republican/conservative factions and commentators, each blaming the others for Romney's loss. Some complain that he focused too exclusively on jobs and the economy, and ignored "social" issues like abortion and same-sex marriage that might have attracted family-oriented blacks and Hispanics. Others say that the party emphasized social issues TOO much and thereby alienated single women and "moderates." Still others contend that he failed to connect with "middle class" voters numb to old slogans about free enterprise, and whose concept of Romney was based mainly on Democrat propaganda about his fondness for the "rich," to which he responded timidly or not at all.
I'm not sure who is right. I'm inclined to think that Romney's pro-life, pro-family stance should have figured more prominently in the presentation of his message, integrated with his economic message so as to show how healthy families are vital to a prosperous, strong America. But I suspect that Romney was counseled by his advisers not to unduly emphasize "values," lest the media frame him as an extreme anti-abortion, anti-gay zealot--like they did to Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann during the Republican primaries. The Obama campaign relentlessly painted Romney that way during the main campaign as well as the primaries, so perhaps he would have been better off not to dilute his best themes in pursuit of "independent" votes that were less likely to be his in any event. And maybe he could have done more to expose the hypocrisy of obscenely rich "progressives" castigating his wealth, as well as to highlight Obama's dangerously inept and irresponsible foreign policy.
More troubling is the attitude and behavior of those with moderate to conservative leanings and a sensibly critical view of the Obama administration--and who nevertheless did stay home on election day. The explanation now widely touted is that Romney/Ryan failed to "energize" moderates or the Republican base, to convince those folks that they were genuine, or to "connect" with middle-class voters.
In my view, none of that--even if true, which is highly debatable--excuses the failure of these people to do their civic duty and cast votes against the incompetence and the evil that they saw. Did they really think it was better to hand the country back to Obama & Co. for another 4-year nightmare, by default, than to support a man who--though professing better principles and a more sensible, Constitutional approach to government--did not inspire in them as much confidence and excitement as they would have liked? Just having to ask this question suggests that a majority of Americans have bought into the media-promoted notion that a Presidential election is some kind of personal performance art, in which the victory should go to the more sympathetic character, the more convincing actor (see my previous post in this connection focusing on the debates and pre-election hype).
If everyone who felt this country was on the wrong track and ascribed much of the blame to Obama & Co. had come out and voted for Romney, he would have carried the day. By failing to do so these people put their personal preferences and refined political sensibilities ahead of their country's welfare, and so are just as responsible for ushering in the "dismal revolution" we now face as those who voted for Obama.
Media distortions aside, politics ultimately takes place in the real world and involves real, inescapably fallible people. More often than not, the only choice open to us is between relative evils. No matter how much we may hope otherwise, no one is going to descend from the clouds and lead us to certain victory, solving all our problems with one mighty swing of his/her Sword of Truth. Instead, we have to do our best to make things better with the tools at hand, ill-suited though they may be in many respects, and apply ourselves in that work day in day and out. To shirk that responsibility and let plainly bad people hold sway, while we stand on the sidelines waiting for the perfect candidate to come along, is just plain treachery.
I'd just like to close by observing that while I and my family are very much in the middle of the "middle class" and grew up in its even lower strata, we had no trouble "connecting" with and supporting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan--and doing so enthusiastically. I believe they are men of integrity, good judgment, and solid conservative principles, and that they love this country more than life. Their program could not be more starkly different than or superior to Obama's, if you bothered to research the candidates' positions and didn't rely exclusively on network news video clips. They may not have wrenched this country around 180 degrees in their first days in office, immediately healed all our divisions, nor ushered in some kind of conservative Camelot. But they certainly would have pulled us up short of the left-wing "transformation" cliff Obama has us hurtling toward, and pointed the nation in a different, better direction.
That prospect was "energizing" enough for me. Why not for those millions of others who see where the Revolution is taking us?