October 23, 2009
When tyranny calls
In explanation for her "yes" vote on the Max Baucus created health care bill, Maine Senator Olympia Snowe said:
"Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it. Is it all that it can be? No. But when history calls, history calls."
Senator Snowe is probably right. History is calling. What she has wrong is history's message. History is calling with the warning that tyranny is at our doorstep.
The tyranny that threatens us is not the same brand as the violent police states of the 20th century. Tyranny in America will look more like the misguided utopianism that has taken England from being the greatest, freest nation on earth to the frail remains of a world power it is today.
History called on England in the aftermath of World War II. During the war, the Axis Powers threatened England's very existence. In such dire circumstances it became necessary for the entire country to work under central direction to achieve its military objectives. However, after the Allied Forces retook Europe, England believed that wartime-style government planning should continue. The government proceeded to dismantle what, in many ways, was once the freest economy in world history.
Now, over 60 years later, we see the results. England -- the leader of the industrial revolution, the empire over which the sun never set, the parent of so many of the great modern republics -- has descended into doldrums of mediocrity.
The permanency of that decline was put into perspective by a recent New York Times article. The article laments the failure of Socialist Parties in countries across Europe. At first glance the report leaves the reader a little stunned at the NYT's open sorrow over the failure of European leftism. But a closer look reveals a bleak reality. The article states:
Europe's center-right parties have embraced many ideas of the left: generous welfare benefits, nationalized health care, sharp restrictions on carbon emissions, the ceding of some sovereignty to the European Union. But they have won votes by promising to deliver more efficiently than the left, while working to lower taxes, improve financial regulation, and grapple with aging populations.Europe's conservatives, says Michel Winock, a historian at the Paris Institut d'Études Politiques, "have adapted themselves to modernity."
It's not that socialism is in decline in Europe; it's that socialism no longer has any opposition.
The things that made Europe (particularly England) great have been swallowed up by government's unrelenting appetite. No longer do politicians seek office as protectors of life, liberty and property -- they seek only to run the oppressive bureaucratic state more efficiently.
The catalyst to this permanent leftist political climate is health care. Other government programs are specifically targeted to the poor, the aged or other relatively small groups. Social Security, for example, has become a political sledge hammer against those who try to reform it. But Social Security recipients make up only a minority of voters at any given time.
If Obama's health care overhaul passes, it will reach across all age demographics and into nearly every income bracket. Health care legislation will quickly gain a political force surpassing Social Security. Once that happens, the only way to win elections will be to promise not to touch government health care. Every politician will have to accept and even endorse issues that are now only championed by the far left.
Only such a weighty political payoff would prompt reelection-obsessed politicians to so thoroughly ignore opinion polls. Fox News' latest numbers show an overwhelming split of 54% against 35% for the current health care proposals. Despite the sour public opinion, the legislation continues to progress through congress. The Democrats are willing to lose battles in polling and even the next election because they believe they are about to win the war.
The history calling Senator Snowe agrees. If health care passes, it will not represent the beginning of the end -- the beginning took place long ago. But it may signal the end of the beginning, the end of the period in which liberty has its chance to beat back statism.
American freedom has been bent, and bent, and bent for nearly 100 hundred years. Like post World War II socialization of England, health care may prove to be America's breaking point.
History is calling. Who will hear her?