Steyn: 'American Twilight'

Here's Mark Steyn writing at NRO on the Roberts decision and what it means:

In recent years, speaking to audiences hither and yon, I'm wont to say something on the lines of "The lamps are going out on liberty all over the world." It's my update on a famous observation by Edward Grey, British foreign secretary on the eve of the Great War. In August 1914, Sir Edward stood at his window in the summer dusk, and said, "The lamps are going out all over Europe." He was speaking metaphorically. After all, his remark was prompted by the sight of London's lamplighters going about their evening routine lighting the lamps in Whitehall. Metaphorically speaking, the lights of liberty were certainly dimmed by Roberts's hideously convoluted Supreme Court decision: I don't see why I should be fined $695 for declining to participate in an overpriced and dysfunctional "insurance" "market."

But that's a philosophical argument, and most folks just want to get on with their lives. And in that sense last week's power outages are more relevant to where the U.S. is headed than what passes for John Roberts's thinking in his Obamacare opinion. It was a reminder, as if you needed one, that in the American twilight the lights will be going out literally. Last week, as the East Coast was fading to black, the West Coast was sinking deeper into the red: Stockton, Calif., became the largest U.S. city to date to file for bankruptcy. America is seizing up before our eyes, and the action necessary to reverse the sclerosis is stymied at every turn by rapacious unions, government micro-regulators, dependency-spreading social engineers, and crony capitalists who know how to weave their way through the bureaucracy.

The Roberts decision was horrible but is it really the end of the world? It's easy to cherry-pick the bad news -- and the good for that matter -- to buttress one's argument either for or against American Armageddon. But I think you have to ignore the trend over the last 60 years in order to believe the notion that the last 3 years have been any worse for American democracy than anything previously. Job destroying regulations have been written under both Democratic and Republican presidents. The GOP Congress overreached with the Medicare drug benefit and No Child Left Behind. The alphabet soup of federal agencies that came into being in the 1960's and 70's had both party's imprimatur on them.

And the American people voted these people into office. If Obamacare is a tipping point -- and I've read good arguments both for and against that notion -- the people can vote politcians into office who will rectify that mistake. Robert's decision -- disastrous as it was -- nevertheless left us an out; repeal. It may be harder to get the Congress to do what's right, but it will legitimize the act of repeal if we base it on the will of the voter and not the capricious whim of an unelected judge.

If you experience technical problems, please write to