2016: Obama's America or Romney's
There were two big takeaways for me on 2016: Obama's America. One was the united front that Barry and his mom formed against stepfather Lolo Soetero's capitalist career working for an evil oil company in Indonesia. The other was Dinesh D'Souza's interview with one of Barack Senior's old anti-colonialist buddies back in Kenya. The old guy is still spouting the anti-colonial bunkum about the Brits looting the colonies and its modern refrain, that the U.S. is in the Middle East to grab the oil. Oh, and the Arabs are victims of the Israelis.
Dinesh's movie reminds us that our 2012 presidential candidates are unapologetic representatives of two great 19th-century belief systems. Barack Obama believes in the Exploitation narrative, invented by Marx and extended by Lenin. To Obama and his lefty mom, oil companies might as well be 19th-century textile sweatshops, and the highest calling in the world is to advocate for the poor against the capitalist exploiters.
Mitt Romney is a horse of a different color. He belongs to a church founded in America's Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. He practices the modern capitalism of the 21st century. You take money from where it is to where it is wanted, helping start new companies or trying to save old ones. You hire the best people and train them up, and give them all the responsibility they can handle. When you see a problem, he writes, you "run toward it or it will only get worse." No "leading from behind" for Mitt.
The Exploitation narrative is obviously attractive to people looking for a political career. It says that some helpless group -- the workers, for example -- are suffering from injustice or oppression. They are not getting their just deserts. So the radical suit or community organizer organizes them to fight for a political solution to their problem, and take what is rightfully theirs. Barack Obama did that for a couple of years, organizing the laid-off steelworkers in South Chicago.
The Second Great Awakening was quintessentially American. It was an upwelling of religious enthusiasm among the common people, and it was particularly strong in the "burned over district" in western New York where the Smiths, "a close and loving family greatly given to religious discussion and experimentation," lived just outside Palmyra. A new religion typically starts as a family affair, according to sociologist Rodney Stark, and so it was with family of Joseph Smith.
The difference between the Exploitation narrative and the religious Awakening narrative is that, under Exploitation, the people believe that the rich have to change. Under the Awakening narrative, it is we the people who have to change, one soul at a time.
One problem with the Exploitation narrative is what happens after the people have, under the leadership of their community organizers, won power and the right to make the guilty pay. Over and over again, we have seen the community organizers attempt to organize the whole nation as though it were a political army. Thus the Soviets, the Chinese, and the Tanzanians organized the peasants into central-controlled collective farms according to a grand plan that utterly failed. In the 1930s the New Dealers organized everyone into a central-controlled pension plan. In 2010, President Obama organized everyone into a central-controlled health care plan.
In the LDS narrative, it is the church members, not the community organizer cadres, that get enrolled into running things. Even the lordly Mitt Romney must take his turn to serve as an ordinary ward bishop or stake president. Then he finds himself called away from creating jobs at Bain Capital to run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In other words, the Mormon church is a civil society association in which all are called in turn to serve and to lead. It's the American Way, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 1830s.
Roger Scruton, in his new How to Think Seriously About the Planet, nails the difference between the Exploitation and the American way of doing things. Writing about environmental policy, he says that a regulation "should never confiscate the problem from those who have the job of solving it."
That's the whole thing in a nutshell. In Obama's America, liberals want to confiscate problems from those who should have the job -- and the satisfaction -- of solving them. Why? Because liberals want that satisfaction for themselves. Educating your children? Much better to confiscate it from ordinary people and let liberal experts do it. Health care? Obama-Reid-Pelosi have confiscated it and given it to fifteen liberal bureaucrats at the IPAB. You didn't build that. Only liberals are allowed the satisfaction of building things in Obama's America.
In Romney's America, the ordinary people get together in their little platoons to solve their problems and build it -- on their own.
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism.