In my post-election quasi-rant, I considered the possibility that the worse, the better: that it would be better in the end for liberty and more limited government if Obama and the Congressional Democrats indulged the wildest policy fantasies in health care, climate change, and domestic government spending. I conjectured that this would set off a popular reaction that would derail these endeavors.(via Tom Nelson)
The first part of the scenario has definitely played out. Indeed, Obama, by delegating his agenda to the almost uniformly leftist leadership of Congress, and exploiting the financial crisis and sharp recession, has pursued a far more thoroughgoing attempt to reshape America than I thought possible even in my gloomiest moments.
And now there are clear indications that the second part of the scenario is playing out as well. The tumults at Congressional townhalls in particular are the most palpable evidence of this, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.. . .
For government-dominated health care (and the rest of the Obama agenda) is an elite project; progressivism (and Progressivism) has always been elitist, and more than willing to coerce the great unwashed into doing what their betters know is good for them. It looks to Europe for its inspiration, and is dismissive of distinctively American institutions, and of the vision of the Founders in particular.
But Americans have the infuriating habit of not being Europeans. They are far less deferential to authority, and to the authority of self-styled elites in particular. European society is far-less open access than the US; just consider the dominance of the graduates of a few elite schools in French government. Consequently, the elites have a much rougher time getting their way here, than in Europe.
We are at a historical moment. In my post-election post, I shrunk from hoping for the worse-the-better because I feared that the US had become sufficiently Europeanized that the agenda would be implemented, at the eternal cost of our liberties and future prosperity. The coming couple of months--most notably, the period of the Congressional recess and the first weeks after its return--will be decisive.
Monday, August 31, 2009
The Streetwise Professor, on August 15th: