Amidst the smiles and self-congratulatory parties among the elites, we are watching our nation slide into the abyss of totalitarianism.
Before you assume that this is another "bash Obama" piece and stop reading, I urge you to continue and realize that what I am about to say has little to do with the current President and everything to do with the moral condition of our nation.
Totalitarians Left or Right can only thrive in a vacuum of moral and political courage. 20 years of Bush and Clinton reflect the ambiguity that is in our public square. We have people on the Right so angry at Clinton for his personal peccadillos that they cannot see the 1994-1996 domestic negotiations that did improve some policies. The same folks defend Bush for his (mostly positive) national security policies, while refusing to see the spending habits that brought bankruptcy to our fiscal house.
Some on the Left are so anti-Bush that they are willing to forget the agenda of radical Islam, ignore the shouts of genocide against Israel and even secretly hope that the "Amerikan Empire" comes to an end. They fail to see that the hard work and moral self-regulation of their predecessors bequeathed the freedom to self-destruct.
Germany in 1933 was financially, morally and psychologically adrift. The ghosts of WWI (think Vietnam) roamed the hallways and streets and moderate voices could not be heard above the din of Communist and Nazi banners. Hitler's party never won a majority of seats, but formed a coalition with other nationalist groups (who thought they could control him). Everyone thought things would "moderate" after the first flush of victory. After the death of President Hindenberg in 1934, there was no barrier to total control.
Behind the scenes, the Nazis cut deals with key industrialists and took control of the unions. They created the largest welfare state ever and until 1945 most Germans enjoyed a better standard of living than the rest of Europe. Of course, this came at the expense of millions in the nations around Germany.
Lenin made similar arrangements with domestic and foreign business concerns in the early 1920s in the new USSR, admitting he needed the "useful idiots" of world capitalism.
When a significant number of people look to the national government to "do something" about concerns that used to be local or personal, we have come to a historic "tipping point" that will not be easily reversed. When key financial leaders (Buffett, Soros, et. al.) are mute or supportive, we see the handwriting on the wall for a full nanny-state to emerge.
I am NOT suggesting that our President has genocide in mind or the end of democracy. In fact, I think what is frightening is that he and his circle think they can pull off democratic socialism better than others, in spite of all historical evidence and in the face of some current dismantling of European experiments.
We must evaluate and either support or oppose policies on their own merits. I am deeply concerned that once the government owns any piece of any company that they will never let go. When Obama says, "Sacrifice!" he means higher taxes and the forced redistribution of wealth. When Obama says, "Partnership" he means government regulation. When Obama speaks to the Muslim world, he extols his Islamic experience; while insisting that Christian symbols are covered at a Georgetown University event.
Obama and his elite believe they are wiser than the hard-working Americans who generate the wealth and jobs that sustain us.
Obama has the hubris to think he can dress down Israel. I hope he is not listening to the senile voice of Jimmy Carter who thinks Hamas needs to be off the terrorist list!
Enough about Obama's philosophy and policies. He is a self-aggrandizing Chicago politician who has spent 20 years preparing for power and he is determined to push his reactionary agenda. He is not really progressive, for his education and formation came at the feet of thinkers who spent a lifetime reacting against the values and vision that formed our nation.
The real enemy of our future is us.
"We the People" must decide that moral and spiritual renewal is the top priority for our nation.
Our government exists to protect our natural, God-given rights, not bestow them!
The Lockean vision of our Founders saw people flourishing with little interference or intervention by the federal government. Except for times of war or emergency, the Town Hall and State House are supposed to be more important than Foggy Bottom.
If we want to arrest this descent into totalitarianism, we must decide that
* Parents are responsible for their children and need to place their needs above their own impulses. Adultery and pornography are wrong and the next generation deserves Mom and Dad at the helm of the home. The alternative is your local elementary school controlling the family agenda!
* Government is at its best when it regulates, not administrates. Employee work conditions, environmental standards and reasonable trade practices have a long, positive history. But ownership and regulation of pay and profits for enterprise are ultimately self-destructive of initiative. An interesting historical note: 1942 was the first time food production returned to the 1914 level in Russia. Stalin allowed private plots! Collectivism was a massive failure.
* Local and State governments must learn to work leaner and smarter. The goal is not jobs for Community Studies majors, but delivery of essential services in a fair and timely fashion.
* Business leaders need to sit down with local and state leaders and design initiatives to renew cities and towns that reward risk, care for the environment and create sustainable enterprises. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful may find a place in the 21st century.
* A Pro-Life Ethic includes opposition to abortion and active euthanasia - and much more. Pro-Life means that all phases of life matter and caring for the poor and vulnerable is a moral obligation, not just a government program. The current totalitarian policies, if left unchecked, will result in millions of elderly and infirm unable to receive care. Former Governor Richard Lamm told the terminally ill that they had a duty to die. Will we see "Soylent Green" in our lifetime?
* Free Speech includes integrity and presenting the multiple sides of any issue. The current polarization and politicization of our media does not serve our nation well. President Bush was excoriated for every move he made. He was portrayed as dumb, ignorant and wicked - all in the fine tradition of rough and ready American politics (just read about the 1828 elections sometime!). President Obama is getting more than a free pass from the media - he is co-opting their resources and running a 24/7 campaign for power. Where are the muckrakers of the 21st century asking the hard questions, especially about the bailout $$?
* Religious leaders need to stop pandering to base passions and proclaim their doctrines and disciplines with grace and without compromise. We can live with our deepest difference while we call for conversion, debate the important issues and watch America's diverse religious life thrive. Atheism and agnosticism are free to flourish in the minds of adherents - but they are not free to suppress free expression, public debate and manipulate school curricula.
* Finally, we must all take stock of our own lives and choose to live for the good of others and our posterity. Only then will we possess the courage to resist the tide and reverse our course. Our aim is not the "good old days." Our aim is a bright future of freedom rooted in personal virtue and civic responsibility.