The 'Everyone else is doing it' canard

One of the most prevalent arguments used in favor of socialized medicine, revamping the 1993 Eligibility Law for military service, nuclear disarmament, and almost every other leftist issue--is the same argument we caution teenagers against: peer pressure.  "Everyone else is doing it, why can't I?" is a phrase that seems to echo from adolescence and, thanks to our current President, throughout politics.  I can almost picture Mrs. Soetoro asking the young Barack, during one of his formative four AM lectures, "if everyone else was jumping off a cliff..."  In response to that adage, somehow he learned to say, "yes."

During his major Obamacare sales pitch before congress last year, the President whined, "We are the only democracy -- the only advanced democracy on Earth -- the only wealthy nation -- that allows such hardship for millions of its people."

This plea should sound familiar: We're the only major industrialized nation not to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol emissions targets.  We're the only industrial nation that doesn't guarantee its workers any paid vacation.  We're the only G-20 country without a federal VAT or Goods and Services Tax.

It's such a familiar refrain that when asking a friend of mine about the current ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' controversy, his first response was to point out that, "the US is the only major western military..."

I interrupted with, "so what?

Peer pressure is distinctly un-American.  It certainly didn't factor into the Founding Fathers' decision to declare independence or establish a Bill of Rights.  To think America would survive without a monarch or a dictator, was an idea so original it was almost irrational.  Thankfully, the Founders decided not to make the New World just like the Old One.  They pursued a course of action based on its own merit, not global popularity.

This is the pulse of American Exceptionalism.  We don't envy we innovate.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown claimed last year that his budget aimed "to create the stronger enterprise culture that America enjoys."  You don't have to be an Anthropologist to notice the irony in Mr. Brown's claim that government ‘creates' culture.  But he's right about our competitive spirit.  Did General George Patton announce that, "Americans love a conformist"?  No, "Americans love a winner."

Issues like healthcare and the ‘right' to serve in our military deserve to be debated and considered.  But the debate should concern pros and cons, the merit of the idea, its purpose and intended effect--an exchange of tangible arguments.  Significantly alter the behavioral guidelines for military service because everyone else is doing it? Rearrange 1/6th of our economy (the same economy Mr. Brown envies) because it feels right?  If these arguments sound hollow, it's because they are.

In his desperation to follow the crowd, Obama has failed to see the consequences of giving in to peer pressure: he is resolutely coaxing America toward the cliff edge.

 
Steve McGregor is Special Adviser on defense issues to a peer in the British House of Lords.  He is also a post-graduate student in Social Anthropology at University College London.  Previously he served as a captain in the Rakkasans.  Read more of his writing at www.stevemcgregor.org

 

One of the most prevalent arguments used in favor of socialized medicine, revamping the 1993 Eligibility Law for military service, nuclear disarmament, and almost every other leftist issue--is the same argument we caution teenagers against: peer pressure.  "Everyone else is doing it, why can't I?" is a phrase that seems to echo from adolescence and, thanks to our current President, throughout politics.  I can almost picture Mrs. Soetoro asking the young Barack, during one of his formative four AM lectures, "if everyone else was jumping off a cliff..."  In response to that adage, somehow he learned to say, "yes."

During his major Obamacare sales pitch before congress last year, the President whined, "We are the only democracy -- the only advanced democracy on Earth -- the only wealthy nation -- that allows such hardship for millions of its people."

This plea should sound familiar: We're the only major industrialized nation not to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol emissions targets.  We're the only industrial nation that doesn't guarantee its workers any paid vacation.  We're the only G-20 country without a federal VAT or Goods and Services Tax.

It's such a familiar refrain that when asking a friend of mine about the current ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' controversy, his first response was to point out that, "the US is the only major western military..."

I interrupted with, "so what?

Peer pressure is distinctly un-American.  It certainly didn't factor into the Founding Fathers' decision to declare independence or establish a Bill of Rights.  To think America would survive without a monarch or a dictator, was an idea so original it was almost irrational.  Thankfully, the Founders decided not to make the New World just like the Old One.  They pursued a course of action based on its own merit, not global popularity.

This is the pulse of American Exceptionalism.  We don't envy we innovate.  Prime Minister Gordon Brown claimed last year that his budget aimed "to create the stronger enterprise culture that America enjoys."  You don't have to be an Anthropologist to notice the irony in Mr. Brown's claim that government ‘creates' culture.  But he's right about our competitive spirit.  Did General George Patton announce that, "Americans love a conformist"?  No, "Americans love a winner."

Issues like healthcare and the ‘right' to serve in our military deserve to be debated and considered.  But the debate should concern pros and cons, the merit of the idea, its purpose and intended effect--an exchange of tangible arguments.  Significantly alter the behavioral guidelines for military service because everyone else is doing it? Rearrange 1/6th of our economy (the same economy Mr. Brown envies) because it feels right?  If these arguments sound hollow, it's because they are.

In his desperation to follow the crowd, Obama has failed to see the consequences of giving in to peer pressure: he is resolutely coaxing America toward the cliff edge.

 
Steve McGregor is Special Adviser on defense issues to a peer in the British House of Lords.  He is also a post-graduate student in Social Anthropology at University College London.  Previously he served as a captain in the Rakkasans.  Read more of his writing at www.stevemcgregor.org