September 17, 2012
One Election Away from TragedyBy Monty Pelerin
For the last thirty-plus years, each election has been described by pundits as "the most important election in history." Finally this claim is no longer hyperbole.
Elections can be important, but they should not be "game-changers." For the first time in my life, we face an election that truly lives up to its exaggerated billings. This election likely is the most important one in American history.
An Inflection Point
The United States of America is at an inflection point where this election will determine whether we continue to veer off-course or return to a conventional path. The issue is whether we reinvent this country in ways that have failed everywhere else in both place and time, or return to the traditions that have made America the envy of the world.
The key figure in this election is one Barack Obama. What he represents and insists on imposing is a revolution in values, markets and what has been known as the American way of life. His opponent, Mitt Romney, hardly seems ideological enough to combat the direct assault on liberty.
Romney seems to be a good and decent man, one that you might admire as a competent and fair boss. He does not convey the same commitment and intensity as his opponent. His apparent competency would certainly be welcome, but it is hardly sufficient. Even some Soviet bureaucrats were competent in accomplishing unproductive tasks. Competency in pursuit of wrong goals can be a liability rather than an asset.
The bases of the two parties are not equal in intensity. Many opponents of the president believe this election to be like those of the past. There are Obama-detesters who have come to stronger positions generally via two routes -- 1) the man is incompetent and made things worse; or, 2) he is out to destroy what was America. This anti-Obama feeling is stronger than it was four years ago, although does not come close to matching the core of Democrat dependency voters. These voters view each election in terms of life and death (or living well versus living). This intense core far outnumbers the Obama-detesters.
It is difficult to adequately express the importance of this election without sounding overly political or alarmist. David Solway achieves such a balance in his description of what is at stake:
It is truly frightening that one election can have such importance to a country.
Elections Were Never Intended To Be Life-Changing
The Founders never intended elections to be so important. The Constitution was designed to keep government small and unobtrusive. The role of government was limited in a fashion to ensure against its increasing power and importance. Government's primary purpose was to provide defense nationally and protect property rights domestically. These services were public functions on the assumption that they could be provided more efficiently jointly than privately.
The Leviathan that government became was never intended. Its size, power and responsibilities contradict anything intended by the Constitution. If the Founders could see what was spawned, they likely would conclude that living under King George was not so bad. "Taxation without representation" seems better than the taxation with representation, at least the representation that we evolved into.
No election was ever intended to have the potential to change the framework of this country. Individuality and freedom were intended to be beyond politics and majority rule.
From its beginning, the Constitution came under attack because it prevented political figures from imposing their views on others. That proscription was responsible for the enormous success of the country. Power-hungry politicians and rent-seeking voters eventually eroded the protections contained in the Constitution.
The current election is a framework changer. Barack Obama's opportunity was not created by Mr. Obama, although he is pursuing it more aggressively and openly than any predecessor. Two hundred years of political meddling have emasculated the Constitution and provided him the opportunity to do so.
The New Consequences of Elections
Elections, designed to be rather meaningless events, suddenly have become the most important things in many people's lives. The dependency class in particular has a vested interest in elections. For dependents, it is the means to improve their standard of living (at the expense of others). This constituency has no "skin in the game" so always votes itself more. Both political parties have pursued this group, ensuring its increase in size and electoral importance. Today it represents almost 50% of the electorate. The late Milton Friedman pointed to this number as representing the tipping point whereby a democratic society could not survive.
Barack Obama represents an existential threat to the way of life of the American people. If he gets reelected, what we know as America will be forever changed. Electing Mitt Romney likely would delay this outcome, but even Ronald Reagan merely slowed the decline temporarily. Mitt Romney may be a good man but he does not seem to be another Reagan.
If Obama is defeated, and I expect he will be, Romney's economic policies will have a better chance of producing an economic recovery. Obama's economic policy amounted to nothing but the hot air of hope and change coupled with payoffs to political friends. But an economic recovery (if one is even possible) does not end the real problem facing this country.
The underlying and seemingly unsolvable problem is the emasculation of the Constitution. That enabled the Rule of Man to trump the Rule of Law. That is the underlying cause of our economic problems. Government has become too large, too powerful and too intrusive. Sadly, history shows that lawmakers never relinquish power willingly. Indeed, today many believe government should be even more powerful to deal with the problems of a modern society.
Fortunately Barack Obama is an incompetent ideologue or his election would be ensured. Hopefully he will be defeated and the close escape from what would represent the end of the American way of life will shock people back to their senses. To understand how close we are to the end of America, realize that this election is too close to call, despite the most incompetent president in my lifetime. Jimmy Carter's domestic and foreign policy appear competent compared to The One's.
Ridding the country of Barack Obama is dodging one bullet in a fierce firefight. If elected, Mitt Romney could implement the same future envisioned by Obama. I don't expect him to veer off in this direction, but that misses the important point. No man should have this power and authority. Thus, every election from here on is potentially our last election as true Americans.
Barack Obama is a symptom of the problem. Ridding ourselves of Obama does not rid the country of the problem. Elections were never intended to be life-changing events.
Unless government can be re-caged, we will always be one election away from disaster. Defeating Barack Obama only pushes the problem off one election. At some point the American people will choose incorrectly and their way of life will be gone. At some point both parties may envision the same dismal course for the country, leaving no choice.
Unconstrained democracy always destroys itself.
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