Are Americans Tired Of Individual Liberty ?by Doug Mataconis
David Strom asks the question at Town Hall:
Liberty has always been a tougher sell than many of us assume. We all want the freedom to do as we like, but few of us are as committed to allowing others to act contrary to our notion of right and wrong. Majorities have always sought and often found ways to impose their views upon minorities. The most vocal minorities have often been successful in imposing their will on the majority, at least for a time.
So there is nothing new about threats to Individual liberty being a daily part of our lives. What is new is that the institutional barriers to regulating our daily lives have effectively broken down. It took a Constitutional Amendment to pass prohibition of alcohol (and repeal it). Who today expects a Constitutional fight over smoking, obesity, trans-fats, or any of the myriad personal issues now under the purview of government control?
America was founded on the belief that government power should be strictly limited, because the alternative to limited power was unlimited power. The framers of the Constitution were rightly concerned that without strict institutional barriers to the expansion of government powers there would eventually be no barriers at all. Power, in any form, longs to be absolute.
Unfortunately, the concept of limited government is becoming an anachronism in today’s America.
As Strom points out, the history of America over the past year has been replete with increases in the size and scope of government, but it’s happened in a way that will make dismantling Leviathan difficult:
Americans have made a bargain with the devil. Dispensing with the idea of limited government in realm of benefits has meant dispensing with the idea of any limits to government power at all. Once we accept the notion that government should ensure that our pursuit of happiness succeeds, we have accepted the notion that government has the right to define what a happy life should look like.
We can call this trend the encroachment of the “nanny state,” which it is, or the spread of “liberal fascism,” which it also is. But it is also the inevitable result of Americans’ increasing desire to have government guarantee that more and more aspects of our lives turn out all right.
Which is why there’s really only one way to tackle the state:
Limiting government power requires limiting the benefits that government can bestow upon us, and right now that seems a bridge too far for some Americans.
The question is, absent a crisis that brings the whole system crashing down around itself (and, for many reasons I don’t think waiting for an Atlas Shrugged-type collapse makes sense), how do we convince the American people that the state is not their friend ?
H/T: Virginia Virtucon