The Risk That Americans Are Too Busy To Notice Our Dying Liberties
Americans are busy people—but the real risk in the lead-up to 2024 is that we may be too busy to pay attention to our last chance to preserve our liberties.
In one respect, we’re no different than any other people on the planet given that our primary needs are food, water, and shelter. Beyond that, however, Americans enjoy a life of leisure opportunities that virtually no one else on the planet enjoys. Not leisure that’s measured in hours worked as in France or Germany. Workers in most developed countries work fewer hours per year than Americans do.
No, what’s different is that Americans have so many ways to spend their leisure time: Motocross. Shopping. Video games. Countless cable channels. Amusement parks. Golf. Swimming. Skiing. Football. Baseball. Golf. Putt putt golf. Pickleball. Off-track betting. Gymnastics. Theater. Karate. Star Trek conventions. Habitat for Humanity. Cornhole. BBQ competitions. Quilting competitions. Beauty pageants for kids. These are only a tiny fraction of the myriad options Americans have at their disposal to entertain themselves or spend their leisure time watching or participating in.
If one were to compare the spectrum of activities available to the average American with the equivalent spectrum for any other country on the planet, it wouldn’t take long to see an enormous difference. Many countries share some of our pursuits, but the depth and breadth available to Americans is unparalleled. None of this came about by accident. The reason Americans have dozens of sports and thousands of activities to participate in, from grade school to the senior center, is because the nation has been so prosperous for so long, and the nation has exemplified creativity for things both consequential and not. The result is a nation where most people have available a level of entertainment and leisure unparalleled in history.
One consequence of such is that Americans are busy. So busy, in fact, that they forget to pay attention to some things that really matter—specifically, government. In a perfect world, no one would have to pay much attention to the government because it would be run like a well-oiled machine in the background that wouldn’t cause any trouble. But that’s not how governments work. Our Founding Fathers knew that, which is why they gave us a government of separated powers with staggered terms for those responsible for exercising them. But even such a near-perfect document cannot stand forever in the face of avarice and the lust for power.
That greed and lust for power is the defining characteristic of what we call the Swamp. And it was enabled by a plethora of acts that strengthened and emboldened the apparatchiks who man it. These included Executive Orders by JFK and Nixon giving federal employees powers or “protections” they’d never previously had, as well as a 1984 Supreme Court case that required courts to defer to federal agencies as it relates to rule-making when there is ambiguity in the legislation.
Together, these and other acts made the Swamp possible. They built a federal government where it’s almost impossible to fire anyone, and agencies essentially get to decide who and what they regulate while those affected have limited redress. So basically, we have agencies that decide what laws they want to write staffed by people who can’t be fired regardless of their failure, incompetence, or criminality.
Of course, every two years, the cacophony that is American life is made that much more dissonant by elections. Most Americans, however, unfortunately, spend less time learning what’s really at stake in those elections than they do selecting teams for their March Madness brackets or wondering what’s going on in the dysfunctional Kardashian universe. The reality of this disaster was demonstrated 15 years ago by John Ziegler.
This situation might have been acceptable 100 years ago when the federal government was relatively small and had little discernible impact on most American lives. Today, however, when the leviathan of the federal government seeks to control virtually every aspect of our lives, it’s simply not. There’s a tipping point in every endeavor in life, and the lifecycle of a Republic is no exception. Leaving the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked: “Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” He responded: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
Two hundred and thirty years later, we are on the verge of losing it. The problem is that too many Americans have no idea what the danger is and have little interest in finding out. They’ve spent so much of their lives enjoying the leisure and entertainment our Republic has made possible that they’ve forgotten that the foundation of freedom and prosperity upon which those conditions are built are not ordained by God, not set in stone, and not guaranteed. The conditions underlying Americans’ freedoms and prosperity are far more fragile than most recognize but, like frogs in a pot of slowly warming water, they’re succumbing to the creeping threat. Indeed, there’s an inverse relationship between government micromanagement and citizens’ freedom.
In what might be the single most crystallizing example of government micromanagement of Americans’ everyday lives since Barack Obama’s attempts to destroy the suburbs, the Biden Administration is considering banning gas stoves and a plethora of other items Americans use in the normal routine of their daily lives. Think about that…
Natural gas has been a key element of cooking in America for centuries. It’s a clean-burning fuel, cheap and plentiful, with a variety of sources, mostly in red states, which makes it hard to control. So, if Democrats can’t control the supply of something, they simply take control of the demand. Doing so in this case has the twin virtues of harming the economies of red states while forcing Americans to buy new, “green lobby approved”—read: dysfunctional and expensive—appliances. All, of course, in the name of the “Climate Change” hoax.
These and literally tens of thousands of other federal regulations are the cost to Americans of not paying attention, summed up by the notion that politics is downstream from culture. Hollywood and the media destroyed American culture, which made turning Washington’s alphabet departments, agencies, and bureaus into tools of tyranny easy.
The question is, can anyone shake the American people out of this political stupor long enough for them to recognize the danger they face? Will Americans rise to the occasion in 2024, or will they instead continue to eat the fruit from the tree of liberty, oblivious to the rot of its roots?
Perhaps a paraphrasing of Martin Niemöller might help:
First, they raised the minimum wage, and I cheered because I had a job.
Then, they destroyed public education, and I didn’t act because I sent my kid to private school.
Next, they limited cable rates, and I applauded because I saved $20 a month.
When they came for my light bulbs, I didn’t react because it made me feel good to help the environment.
One day, they said ethnicity was more important than ability for college acceptance, but I said nothing because I’d already graduated.
They increased taxes on the rich, and I didn’t care because I wasn’t rich.
Then they came for my gun, my car, my job, and eventually everything I hold dear, but there was no one left to stand with me because no one remembered what real liberty was or how it was supposed to be protected in the first place.
You can follow Vince on Twitter at ImperfectUSA