While running for the office of President of the United States, President Obama made a statement he thought was behind closed doors in San Francisco about voters in Pennsylvania. We now see that this sentiment about small town America has not changed much as the President still seems taken aback at how people could possibly not want the government’s help. It must all be a plot and manipulation by his opponents, not a rejection of the ideals he stands for.
During that meeting the President-to-be stated:
“Our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there’s not evidence of that in their daily lives,” he said. “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate and they have not.
“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
This is a great example of how those who believe that Government is the Answer can’t understand how anyone else, especially people who so obviously need help, doesn’t see the same thing. The Government is here to help you should be a welcoming rescue, not made to appear to be a wretched curse. How could this possibly be?
So they look for reasons. It’s their guns and religion that is holding them back from this enlightenment. It is big business keeping them scared of government that must be doing it. It must be racism. It must be fears of those who aren’t like them.
What they don’t get is that people who live in small towns are not stupid. They understand what is going on when the government says that they are ‘here to help’. More importantly, they understand the costs of allowing that to happen. And they would rather live their lives as they are than to get some temporary help from the government, knowing it will have permanent costs afterwards.
Government, as they understand the truth of it, is force. The government exists for the sole reason to enforce laws. If it wasn’t doing that, if it was a benevolent charity like Red Cross, for example, there would be no need for the power of being able to use force against the citizens. There would be no need to write laws to accomplish their goals. Laws are not a written guideline of how the helpers will operate, they are enforceable rules that can rob a person of their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
That was the dilemma of the founding fathers. We needed to ensure that the US government was not dictating what people could and couldn’t do, but we still needed, from time to time, to have the government enforce basic laws for the safety and protection of the citizens. For that, we entered into an agreement that we would allow for a body of our representatives to act with a single voice to our external friends and foes and use force on our citizens only when absolutely necessary.
And that is a lot of power. No business has that kind of power. No individual has a chance of wielding such a power as that. It is a power greater than anyone else can imagine and, unfortunately, it is a power that is all too tempting for people to acquire and use.
Again, the founding fathers were aware of this. They knew that once they gave a little more power to the Federal government than was allowed for in the Article of Confederation that it was only a matter of time before people started trying to control that power as their own.
So, in order to prevent that abuse from being too tempting, they put strict, tightly-laced limits upon what the federal government could do. The constitution, as it is written, is not a ‘guideline’ within which to operate, or a loose set of ideals to try to emulate. They are the functions, and ONLY the functions, that the federal government is allowed to operate within. Never to step out of.
Unlike many other countries, the constitution didn’t list what the citizens were allowed to do and be safe from government intervention. Instead, it lists the limits of what the government is allowed to do with its power over the citizens. Liberty, the freedom from government intrusion into our individual lives, was paramount. And it wasn’t something that government could give, it was something we all had just by being born.
That liberty, that knowing that you are free to live your life as you want without having someone else tell you you can’t, is vital for most Americans. Especially in rural America, which still makes up the majority of the population of the United States. THAT is what those people in those small towns are clinging to. Not guns, not religion, but the freedom of both and a whole lot more.
When a law gets created a little more liberty is taken. Now, sometimes that law is necessary as there is jut no other alternative. There is no other way of achieving the results that is needed other than to enforce those rules onto all Americans. But more often than not, they end up making things worse, having unintended consequences and almost never being repealed once in place. Instead, the view by those who want to wield that power is that the law just wasn’t written well enough, we can make it better!
Progressives and Conservatives see this power and covet it. Progressives see it as a means to ending the woes of the downtrodden without understanding that in order to force their views of life onto others they have to do so while taking more of their liberty from them. Conservatives think that they are healing the ills of humanity by incarcerating anyone who violates the morals that they individually believe to be correct. And between the two, we just end up with less and less liberty and more and more of an oligarchy.
The end result is that no one is trusted to live their lives as they want, individual responsibility is not encouraged or even acknowledged as being a necessary thing and any thought outside of those who are in charge at the time are bad for the nation as a whole.
President Obama falls into this trap. The view that the government CAN help without harming more in the long run. Instead of looking for solutions that ALSO respect individual liberty, we have just another politician who thinks that they know what is better for us in our personal lives. A government who pushes ideals upon us instead of letting us come up with our own ideals and succeeding OR FAILING based on them.
That is why the left in this country appears to be so shocked at the anger that is coming at them from the liberty minded in this country. How is it possible, they think, that these people who we are just trying to help can be so upset with us? We are the good guys!
I heard a great comment from John Dvorak the other day. He was making the point that the left in this country in the 60s and 70s were screaming ‘Question Authority’. Now, when they are the ones who are the Authority, they just abandoned those ideals? We aren’t supposed to question their motives, their tactics, their ideas?
There is just a limit to how much ‘help’ that a person is willing to accept at the cost we know it will take. Small town America is not being duped. And that is the real issue for those in charge now, they are unable to do the duping that they need to obtain the increased power that they covet so much.