Why Are Americans Seemingly Indifferent to the Nation's Transformation

Just before he was elected president in 2008, Barack Obama promised to “fundamentally transform” America.  Sad to say, after eight years as Chief Executive, he has largely succeeded.

Were Hillary Clinton to win the presidency in 2016, she has promised to fulfill Obama’s goals.  (I write this with some diffidence, since I remember what the late Yogi Berra said about the trouble with predictions.)

If Donald Trump were to be elected, would things be greatly different?  (Again, I’m reminded of Yogi’s warning about making predictions.)  [Even so, before closing, let’s speculate about what a Trump presidency might bring.]

First, however, we must examine how has America been transformed from the type of political system created by the Constitution’s framers in 1787:  i.e., a limited government, with specified powers, separation of powers, and federalism?

The U.S. is now largely a European-style, cradle-to-grave welfare state, with a massive federal establishment of virtually unlimited powers, most of those vested in the presidency, and to a lesser degree, the judiciary.  Larded on to this is a ruling class, increasingly disconnected from the rest of society.

Truth requires that we acknowledge that Obama and his left-wing minions have had help in their accomplishments, and that much of what they’ve done built upon what had gone before. 

(Is it necessary to reiterate how progressives from as long ago as Teddy Roosevelt at the dawn of the 20th century through Woodrow Wilson in the 1910s to FDR in the 1930s and 1940s to Lyndon Baines Johnson in the 1960s were, to put it mildly, Obama’s precursors?) 

It is also necessary to note how, on more than one occasion, George W. Bush drew upon Americans’ fears of terrorism to aggrandize power into the White House.

Finally, one must also note that, despite claims to the contrary, elected Republican leaders have, time and again, acquiesced in Obama’s efforts to transform the nation.  (Could it be that the GOP’s establishment is almost as willing as radical left-wing Democrats to see power concentrated in Washington, DC?)

As long ago as the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville speculated that “a rage for equality” among the American public might lead to a new leviathan on the Potomac.  Add to an abiding quest for equality, an equally powerful desire for security, and you have a very heady mix of grassroots pressures for more big government.

In my political science classes of half-a-century ago, we were taught that combinations of hot and cold war, economic catastrophe – such as the Great Depression – and increasing urbanization contributed to a tendency for the federal government’s power to wax, and local and state governments’ power to wane.  (There’s at least a grain of truth to that, provided one does not excessively inquire into the dynamics of the process.)

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