Liberty and Prosperity

“A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have….”

This quote is often mistakenly attributed to Thomas Jefferson. In fact it was uttered on the floor of Congress by Gerald Ford in an address to a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974, 3 days after he had assumed the Presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation.

In the previous thread, Jeremiah posted this marvelous quote from Ronald Reagan:

I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.  There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.

The same bit of research that revealed the Gerald Ford quote also revealed that Reagan’s words did, indeed, paraphrase a famous quote from Thomas Jefferson:

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” – Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, Paris, 27 May 1788

Contrary to the portrait his critics attempt to paint, Reagan was a wise and intelligent man, the closest thing America has seen to a visionary in the mold of the Founders in my lifetime, and anyone who doubts that should read his personal journals. I would add to what he said that prosperity and liberty go hand in hand. Since America is made up of immigrants from numerous other countries, none of which is as prosperous as we are, it can only be that our system of government allows a level of individual freedom that promotes a prosperous economy more than any other country. Now, right before our eyes, we’re seeing one man and a small oligarchy of radical Leftist cronies attempt to “fundamentally transform” that successful model into just another country. As long as we have the freedom to vote, such men will never stay in power long.

There’s a good chance that none of us on this blog has ever suffered under the tyranny of a dictatorship or totalitarian government.  If any have, I’d love for them to come forward and describe what it was like.  In his GOP convention speech, Marco Rubio noted, in reference to the policies of the current administration, “these are tired and old big government ideas. Ideas that people come to America to get away from.  Ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.”

The freedom that we have and for which we’ve expended great quantities of blood and treasure for others to have around the world is, historically speaking, not the norm.  It’s why the founding of this country has often been described as The Great American Experiment. Not since Rome had a country attempted to embark on a course that would allow ordinary citizens to govern themselves.

Now some are going so far as to suggest that the current occupant of the White House is the one who wants to continue that experiment, to expand liberty to new horizons:

America’s story is one of constantly tackling the big—the biggest—problems, ahead of everyone else, with very little to guide us but those founding principles that nag at our conscience. And each time we’ve made progress, extending civil rights to more and more people, it’s been because that old spirit of taking a gamble, of performing the ultimate experiment, took over and led us to the right decision.

As we think today about what divides Americans, I think it boils down to the fact that some Americans no longer want to experiment. They want to close the lab down. We’ve gone far enough into the unknown, making it known, they say; now let’s stop—let’s even go backward. We were wrong to conduct some of our experiments in liberty, and that’s the source of all our problems. Gay people shouldn’t be treated equally. Black people shouldn’t run the country. Women shouldn’t hold high office. Muslims shouldn’t be granted habeas corpus.

Whenever one of those Americans talks about the problem with our country today, they talk about how we should be like we once were, back when white people who defined marriage as one man-one woman and were Protestant veterans built this nation. They feel they are losing their birthright, their legacy.

But those Americans are wrong. What their ancestors really were was scientists. Experimenters. Radicals who always considered the impossible possible. To define those ancestral Americans as merely white or straight or Christian strips them of their most stunning feature, their near-supernatural qualities of optimism and defiance and willingness to go into the unknown and make it their home, to make the amazing the norm. They defied the status quo. That’s how they built America.

Americans who want to end the experiment are few, but boisterous. They clamor at the national microphone. But Americans who know that there is no America without the experiment will keep at it, and they will persevere. Barack Obama is such an American, and his election is proof that the lab is still open, and that America in general will always be at the drawing board, expanding its concept of liberty and justice and equality until we finally fulfill the founding principles that created this nation so long ago.

I have to confess, when I read this essay, my first reaction was, clearly I and the vast majority of Conservatives have missed something if this is true.  Perhaps we’re wrong, and this writer is correct.  Perhaps one or more of our resident Progressives can make a case for Obama being the great experimenter in expanding liberty.

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22 thoughts on “Liberty and Prosperity

  1. Cluster September 2, 2012 / 10:51 am

    I actually love the metaphor of the “lab being open”, but in my opinion, that’s the only thing the writer got right. Unfortunately the writer injected liberal false premises, such as this:

    Gay people shouldn’t be treated equally. Black people shouldn’t run the country. Women shouldn’t hold high office. Muslims shouldn’t be granted habeas corpus.

    And those false premises are born of liberals bias towards big government and equal outcomes. Gay people have all the rights that I do. They have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and truth be known, if marriage were a state issue, as many conservatives including myself believe, they would also have that ability in some states. I say “ability”, because marriage is NOT a right. Liberals use the word “right” as code to expand government, and let’s not let them get away with that.

    Secondly, the line “black people shouldn’t run the country” is not only offensive and racist, but it is an outright lie used to demonize people they disagree with. It absolutely sickens me that liberals use the race card at every opportunity. But I guess if you are intellectually inferior to your opponent, lies and distortions are the only tools you have.

    Finally, we don’t grant habeus corpus to non American citizens, period. This country even suspended that American right for our own citizens during the civil war, and it should never be extended to foreign war combatants. So this argument again is born of liberal bias with the intent to give government more power than enumerated in the constitution.

    The sentiment the writer conveyed is interesting and not entirely wrong. What is wrong, is his obvious liberal bias and ignorance towards what America truly stands for – and that is ensuring that every one, regardless of race, creed or color, has equal opportunity. Free men and women of all stripes and free markets are what made this country great not only economically, but culturally as well.

    • Ricorun September 2, 2012 / 7:25 pm

      Cluster: I say “ability”, because marriage is NOT a right.

      How do you distinguish between the two? You personally, I mean. Actually, while I don’t want to put words in your mouth, I think you’d have been better off using the word “privilege” as opposed to the word “ability”.

      Anyway, I think the last part of Spook’s post was a treatise on equality of opportunity, and the trajectory of justice and liberty pertaining thereto over the course of American history. Nothing about it implied that personal liberty was necessarily tied to the size of the federal government, only that the federal government has often been a positive force in ensuring personal liberties for various “minority” groups (I put “minority” in quotes because women were never a minority from a sheer numbers standpoint).

      The association between personal liberty and limited government was something Spook added by way of the first part of his post. And it makes sense in a way because the article at the end clearly endorsed Obama, and Obama is tied to the notion of big government. Unfortunately, Spook went all the way back to Jefferson as the ultimate authority on the relationship between personal liberty and limited government. It’s unfortunate because Jefferson was a slave-holder at the time he offered the featured quote, and slaves were notoriously restricted in their exercise of personal liberty. That makes his distinction a little disingenuous, certainly in the here and now. Then again, Jefferson had problems distinguishing between ideals and reality on various levels, both personally and professionally. Perhaps Amazona could quote something from Joshua Goldberg in that regard, lol!

      At any rate, I’m still wondering about the distinction between one’s abilities(/privilege) and one’s rights. And maybe you could pepper something in there about 9th Amendment? That’s the one that says, “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”. More to the point (and I offer this question to everyone), what yardstick(s) should we employ to distinguish between what constitutes a right as opposed an ability/privilege? I think that’s a really good question. In fact, I think it may reveal something essential about the divide between the current conceptions of left and right, at least on the social and economic planes.

      • J. R. Babcock September 2, 2012 / 8:52 pm

        More to the point (and I offer this question to everyone), what yardstick(s) should we employ to distinguish between what constitutes a right as opposed an ability/privilege? I think that’s a really good question.

        It’s a question that I’ve seen posed and answered her at least two or three times in the year or so I’ve been reading this blog, and the answer, at least IMO, is pretty simple. “Rights” come from nature and nature’s God, and apply to individuals, hence the term individual rights. If it takes two or more people to accomplish something, then it becomes an ability or privilege. I don’t have a right to a house or a car, or a flat-screen TV, because someone else has to build those, sell those and service those. I don’t have a right to a job because a job requires that I have something useful to provide to someone else.

        In fact, I think it may reveal something essential about the divide between the current conceptions of left and right,

        It absolutely does, in fact It is one of the defining differences between left and right.

      • Cluster September 2, 2012 / 9:03 pm

        Rico,

        JR nailed it and I am surprised that after all the years you have visited this blog and read conservative posts, you still pose the same questions time and time again. You either have learning disability or like most liberals, are just stuck on stupid.

        JR – Boise Stae played well for a young team. I am flying into Boise for the BYU game.

      • J. R. Babcock September 2, 2012 / 9:35 pm

        JR – Boise Stae played well for a young team.

        Cluster, guys like Moore and Martin are tough to replace, and Mich. State’s RB, Bell, out-gained our entire offense. He averaged nearly 5 yards per carry on 44 carries with no fumbles and scored 2 TD’s, but the final outcome was, for sure, nothing to be ashamed of. We’re gonna do OK considering most everyone except the fans figured this would be a re-building year.

        Speaking of re-building years, that task for the nation starts on 1/20/13 when Romney and Ryan are inaugurated.

      • Amazona September 3, 2012 / 11:07 am

        “Jefferson had slaves” = code for “Knows one single factoid about a Founding Father and thinks quoting it might make him look smart”

        Of course Jefferson INHERITED his slaves, and for most of the time he had them it was against the law to free slaves.

        But why let a little fact get in the way of a pseudo-intellectual rant on how owning slaves disqualifies Jefferson from having an opinion on liberty, its significance, etc.?

        The “Jefferson had slaves” whine is the Left’s shortcut to the Higher Intellectual Ground, or so they think.

        And it is ever so much easier than addressing what Jefferson THOUGHT, and SAID, and DID.

      • Ricorun September 3, 2012 / 11:29 am

        JR: “Rights” come from nature and nature’s God, and apply to individuals, hence the term individual rights. If it takes two or more people to accomplish something, then it becomes an ability or privilege. I don’t have a right to a house or a car, or a flat-screen TV, because someone else has to build those, sell those and service those. I don’t have a right to a job because a job requires that I have something useful to provide to someone else.

        Okay, I get it now. Thanks for clearing it up.

        So really the person who wrote the article Spook presented should have said “…extending civil abilities, or privileges to more and more people…”. Assuming that change, would you agree with the article? After all, it would no longer be talking about “civil rights” but about “civil privileges”, and it’s okay to restrict those however much, or however little, one pleases. And that, as you say, is one of the defining differences between left and right: the right generally prefers more restrictions, the left less.

      • Amazona September 3, 2012 / 12:39 pm

        And the Quibbler quibbles his way right into a big fat lie. Thank God it only took a couple of posts this time–his polysyllabic blathering usually uses up a lot more bandwidth before he abandons his “moderate” and “pragmatic” posturing and gets down to his true self. He seems to be quite impatient today, and less willing to engage in endless nit-picking and semantic game-playing.

        The lie? It’s a biggie, and quite a favorite of the radical Left, as well as its mindless minions who merely regurgitate its slogans but lack a true political compass.

        “…the right generally prefers more restrictions, the left less (sic)…”

        Perhaps in Ricoville, up there on Planet Rico, the Left represents fewer restrictions on personal liberties–“fewer” being the correct word to use when referring to number, with “less” reserved for volume. But as we have seen, while Ricoville is a hotbed of endless quibbling about the most minute of details, thereby evidently allowing the illusion that he is actually discussing something when in fact he is just avoiding a real discussion, its inhabitant scurries away from anything else.

        In the real world, however, it is the Right which advocates more personal freedom, as well as more personal responsibility. That is to say, fewer restrictions on liberty.

        Now we need to batten down the hatches, as I am sure there is a lot of huffing and puffing going on in Ricoville, preparatory to a lengthy whuffle about the difference between “liberty” and “freedom”.

        But you can be sure we will never see a rico discourse on the actual ideological differences between Left and Right, or historical examples of the successes and failures of each, or the incompatibility of Leftist dogma with our Constitution.

        Though we may get more noise about “rights” and “abilities” and “privileges”…………….

      • Ricorun September 3, 2012 / 3:06 pm

        Amazona: In the real world, however, it is the Right which advocates more personal freedom, as well as more personal responsibility. That is to say, fewer restrictions on liberty.

        Taking one of the examples of privilege that JR offered, buying a house: would you say that more or fewer personal freedoms/liberties are exhibited when the seller is free to choose not to sell it to a black couple, a single woman, a gay couple, or a muslim (the example assumes the offer made by one of them was the best the seller received)?

        To cite two current examples:
        1. would you say that more or fewer personal freedoms/liberties are exhibited when a gay couple is prevented from entering into a civil union with all the same legal rights and obligations of a marriage between a man and a woman?

        2. would you say that more or fewer personal freedoms/liberties are exhibited when a federal government entity (e.g., the military) is required to allow an otherwise qualified, but openly gay person to serve?

        You were right by the way — I should have used the word “fewer” rather than “less” in my last post. This time I chose to equate the words “freedom” and “liberty”. I hope that’s okay.

      • Amazona September 3, 2012 / 4:11 pm

        Evidently you are focused on discrimination, so let’s talk about that.

        Certainly you can, if you choose, decide to frame discrimination as a freedom. It’s an odd perception, but OK.

        But then what you do is simply assert, through implication, that only the Left fights discrimination.

        Yet the Right fought hard to codify anti-discrimination laws regarding black people in this country, starting with the first Republican president.

        You have chosen to concentrate on issues where one person or demographic may or may not impose its will on another. I suggest that this is a very limited and artificial construct, and that liberty goes far beyond the behavior of one person toward another.
        I am talking about the the GOVERNMENT imposing ITS will on the citizenry.

        The new kerfluffle about “gay rights” is the territory of the Left only because of the deceptive way it is presented,—–a deception I see you continuing.

        At this time, gay people have exactly the same rights as heterosexual people–that is, gay men can marry women, and gay women can marry men. So let’s be clear here—we are talking about SPECIAL status, a new category of union.

        Let’s continue with this train of thought, and examine the fact that as of now gay couples have nearly the same legal protections and responsibilities in their unions as traditional couples, and of the two remaining issues, one is a civil contractual issue (insurance) and the other is treatment under the tax code, which would require only a minor tweaking of that code to level that particular mine field.

        So let’s admit it, the straw man of gay “rights” hinges exclusively on the alleged “right” to apply the word “marriage” to a union about which it has never been applied, or intended. Not to get too far into the legal weeds with this, but the law contains what are called “canons”—-that is, “…Canons “are not ‘rules’ in any strict sense” — canons do not direct those who follow them to specific actions in the manner of rules like “no smoking” or “no pets allowed.” Rather, canons are “presumptions about what an intelligently produced text conveys.”

        One of these is what is called a “semantic canon” which says, basically, —“Words must be given the meaning they had when the text was adopted”. Therefore, the word “marriage” has a clear and defined meaning, that which was accepted when laws containing the word were adopted.

        This is not a new concept. In fact, “…a law enacted by the Scottish Parliament in 1427 “made it a punishable offense for counsel to argue anything other than original understanding.”

        So what is falsely being presented as a simple “right”, cruelly denied by some people, is in fact a demand that the “original understanding” of a word be set aside, and the word “marriage” be given a new meaning quite unlike the meaning it has had ever since it has been adopted. That is, not a true “right” but a special consideration hinging upon the redefinition of the original understanding of a word. And furthermore, a redefinition which adds nothing to the legal status of a union which can easily be brought to parity with marriage by a couple of simple changes to contract law and tax law, without the need to redefine the original understanding or change the meaning of “marriage” which existed when the word was adopted.

        What you said was this: “1. would you say that more or fewer personal freedoms/liberties are exhibited when a gay couple is prevented from entering into a civil union with all the same legal rights and obligations of a marriage between a man and a woman?”

        As you present this only as the ability to enter into a legal relationship with the same rights and obligations of marriage, this is a strange question if you are talking about reality, as this is already possible, or nearly so, and would be if this were the focus of the struggle instead of the use of the word “marraige”. As a simple abstract question, then yes, the inability to enter into such a relationship would be a limitation of freedom.

        I simply deny contention that this is an issue defined by political ideology, as it is really just a side issue used to lure people into voting for a political system without examining it or committing to it.

        “2. would you say that more or fewer personal freedoms/liberties are exhibited when a federal government entity (e.g., the military) is required to allow an otherwise qualified, but openly gay person to serve?”

        This is one of those circumstances where the additional liberty of one is at the cost of a liberty of another.

        But get away from the tight little area of discrimination, something which can be addressed and has been addressed and is NOT the sole province of the Left.

        In general, I assert that the more large and powerful the central government is, the fewer liberties are kept by its citizens.

        I have given several examples, which you have ignored, of existing or pending limitations on personal liberty thanks to the efforts of Leftist administrations. They are in my house, they are in my car, they are with me every single day, and more are on the horizon.

        And I look at historical precedent and see that in nations with large and powerful central governments, individual freedom is always less than in our nation when it was governed according to our Constitution.

      • Ricorun September 4, 2012 / 4:34 pm

        Amazona: You have chosen to concentrate on issues where one person or demographic may or may not impose its will on another.

        Well, I thought the issue of an unequal distribution of civil liberties was what this thread was about. That’s certainly my take on the article Spook presented at the end of his post.

        The other consideration is this: when I don’t stay very close to the topic, what I say often gets deleted without a trace. But this thread has made me think a lot, and to consolidate those thoughts into a more complete whole — a more coherent ideology if you will. Anyway, here goes…

        As you present this only as the ability to enter into a legal relationship with the same rights and obligations of marriage, this is a strange question if you are talking about reality, as this is already possible, or nearly so, and would be if this were the focus of the struggle instead of the use of the word “marraige”. As a simple abstract question, then yes, the inability to enter into such a relationship would be a limitation of freedom.

        Well, it’s nice of you to say so. But I don’t get the impression it’s as common a feeling as you say it is. There aren’t that many states which allow same sex unions with most of the same rights and obligations as heterosexual marriage (essentially all of them are blue states). Quite a few prevent any sort of same sex unions (essentially all of them are red states). Moreover, Romney himself is on record as saying, ““If a civil union is identical to marriage other than with the name, why, I don’t support that.” Apparently he hasn’t heard your soliloquy about “canons”. Obama, in contrast, supports “gay marriage”. He used that terminology. So I think there’s considerable evidence of a left-right divide there. Likewise, I think a similar case could be made about gays serving in the military, though perhaps not as strongly (at Romney’s urging the GOP very recently struck the issue from their platform). I’m not sure what you mean by “This is one of those circumstances where the additional liberty of one is at the cost of a liberty of another” though. Who’s personal liberties are abridged in that circumstance?

        But you’re right, the left has its pet peeves as well. Somewhere on the top of the list is gun control. It might seem weird, but on that issue I AM in favor of restricting the liberties of particular demographics (namely, criminals and mental cases) rather than everyone. The big question there is how to do it. And assuming it can’t be done, evidence suggests that it’s better from a crime standpoint to allow people to carry.

        As far as your own laundry list of usurpations of personal freedoms, while I don’t disagree in general, I think it’s important to point out (of the ones I understood anyway — government drones??) that many of them — in fact many of the ones that represent the most serious usurpations of personal freedom (e.g., recording and logging phone calls, emails, and faxes, vehicles equipped with certain “safety” features) were put in place by large corporations so THEY could monitor your behavior. And yes, when forced, they share the information with the government. But frankly, I thought most folks on the right were perfectly fine with the PATRIOT Act — they certainly were when it was enacted. At any rate, imagine what large corporations (especially finance corporations) could get away with if they didn’t have to worry about government? IMO, Big Brother doesn’t simply consist of big government, there’s a healthy portion of big business in it, too. Ideally the two should check and balance each other, but that’s often not the way it works. Too often they work in cahoots. But at least government is popularly elected. Corporate boards aren’t. So if you eliminate government from the equation, what do you have?

        Others on your list I suspect are largely fanciful: e.g., controlling how warm our houses are in the winter and how cool in the summer. Really? And pretty much ALL our energy comes from government approved sources. Even the transmission modes are government approved. And I’m fine with that, because I don’t want to live in Mexico North, lol! But I think I get what you’re really trying to say: you should have the freedom to waste energy with reckless abandon if you want to, and no matter what externalities are associated with your decisions, the government should stay out of your way.

        Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

        But if I’m pretty much right, you’re also right if you think I don’t think that way, at least not nearly to the extent that I think you do. Specifically, I think transactional externalities are very important considerations, considerations which often make it virtually impossible for any company, sometimes any industry, or any state, or any sector of the economy, to deal with in isolation. Let me give you a relatively simple example…

        When I moved to LA in the early 80’s the air was essentially unbreathable. It’s a lot better now in spite of the fact that there’s a lot more people in the surrounding area than there was then. And it is so because of all the restrictions and regulations the government (in this case the state government) imposed to clean it up. While it would have been nicer if all the industries causing the problem (it was a complicated problem) were sufficiently aware of their collective responsibility to get together with all the other industries and people affected by the problem to hammer out a way to fix it, that wasn’t likely to happen. Or perhaps one could say they did — via government. At any rate, it almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if government didn’t step in. And that almost certainly would have been bad for everyone concerned. Instead, the results have been quite positive. Sure, the CA gov’t has its problems, some of them quite severe. And I certainly don’t want to defend them in any sort of blanket way. But many of your pet peeves (“what kinds of toilets we can buy, what kinds of light bulbs we can use, what kinds of cars manufacturers can build”) are related to energy and resource conservation — both of which are problems which no single sector of the economy, nor any single state government (even CA’s, the state in which 1 out of every 8 people in the US live), can effectively address alone. When you get to that scale, where so many companies, so many industries, so many sectors of the economy, even the economy itself, are affected on so many time horizons, it seems to me that you need a central authority to coordinate things. And if it’s not the federal government, then what?

        The bottom line is that I don’t feel a strong central government is necessarily good or bad. Any value judgement of that sort depends on many other factors — and has since the inception of the good ole’ US of A. Throughout our history a strong federal gov’t has sometimes proven very useful, sometimes not so much. I could go through many historical examples (starting with Washington himself leading the charge against the rebels during the Whiskey Rebellion, and Jefferson’s profound distaste for Hamilton’s Federalist policies but then using the funds generated by them to purchase the Louisiana Territories — up through GW Bush’s pledge to pursue more isolationist policies, only to later decide to invade Afghanistan and Iraq), but the long and the short of it is that at almost every significant turn in real world events, strict adherence to their professed ideology is the first thing to be jettisoned by virtually every president along the way. What they concentrate on thereafter is pragmatism — that which works. Some are much better at it than others, of course. But especially given that, why isn’t the ability more thoroughly vetted in a presidential candidate? Too often people rate the ability of a candidate on the campaign trail by virtue of their ability to escape a decision rather than make one.

  2. Retired Spook September 2, 2012 / 11:13 am

    Gay people shouldn’t be treated equally. Black people shouldn’t run the country. Women shouldn’t hold high office. Muslims shouldn’t be granted habeas corpus.

    Cluster, these premises were offensive to me as well. DWS made it perfectly clear how Liberals feel about women in high office who have an (R) after their name.

    Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said Thursday that the female-heavy line-up of speakers at the Republican National Convention was merely “shiny packaging” to distract voters.

    “I think we believe that women can see through that nice shiny packaging that the Republicans have been putting out there, through to what’s inside, which is really a disaster for women’s future, extreme policies,” said Wasserman Schultz at a press conference at the Democratic National Committee war room, nestled in the heart of enemy territory just blocks from where the RNC is being held.

    Wasserman Schultz was flanked by Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky, contraception activist Sandra Fluke and Massachusetts state Sen. Karen Spilka

    • Cluster September 2, 2012 / 11:50 am

      So really what DWS just said, is that Condi Rice, Susanna Martinez and Mia Love are too stupid to see through the thin veil of the GOP.

      That again is offensive, misogynistic and racist. It’s the trifecta, as only DWS can do. The dishonesty and stupidity makes blood shoot from my eyes.

      • Retired Spook September 2, 2012 / 11:54 am

        Cluster,

        It would be one thing if the RNC had dragged anonymous women off the street, but to describe congresswomen, congressional candidates, governors, the first black female Secretary of State, and the wife of the Presidential candidate the way DWS did is beyond offensive.

  3. Amazona September 2, 2012 / 11:22 am

    I thought the article thought-provoking, but it completely fell apart at the end, where it tried to portray Barack Obama as a “great experimenter”. So I went back and read it again, and found it fundamentally flawed from the get-go. Upon a third reading, I realized it veered off into demagoguery early on.

    OK, I can go along with the basic premise, of this nation being a giant experiment in a radically new form of government—more than just a new “form”, a new attitude toward the very NATURE of government and its role in the lives of its citizens.

    I started to frown when the article started to repeat beloved Leftist mantras, such as “equality” for gay people. Actually, I find this entire statement to be fundamentally wrong: “We’ve gone far enough into the unknown, making it known, they say; now let’s stop—let’s even go backward. We were wrong to conduct some of our experiments in liberty, and that’s the source of all our problems. Gay people shouldn’t be treated equally. Black people shouldn’t run the country. Women shouldn’t hold high office. Muslims shouldn’t be granted habeas corpus.”

    I think it does nothing more than spout Leftist cant about the alleged motives of conservatives and invented goals of this movement. I know of, and know of no one who knows of, ANYONE who wants to go “backward” and I don’t find the distorted examples given of events or ideas the Left finds objectionable to be an actual philosophy of retreating from progress.

    And let me stop right here to make it clear that I draw a very heavy and definite line between “progress” and the Progressive Movement.

    I find the statement to not only be wrong, but deeply offensive, and nothing more than a blatant use of demagoguery.

    So when I discard the Leftist spin, the effort to recast conservative ideas as nothing more than efforts to go “backward” and undo alleged “experiments in liberty”, I end up with nearly all of the article defined as nothing more than the usual Leftist pseudo-intellectual verbose polysyllabic nonsense about Leftist goals being efforts to move toward more freedom and conservative goals being nothing more than efforts to “go backward” and LIMIT freedom.

    It is classic Leftist propaganda, and quite well done, but still reeking of the usual lies.

    So when it gets to the end, where it sums it all up as a tribute to the great and mighty and courageous fighter for liberty, the defender of this noble experiment, Barack Obama, I am holding my nose.

    So let’s set aside this little piece of literary smoke and mirrors and look at facts.

    This nation was conceived in a specific period of historical time, and as such had to reflect the values and accepted norms of the day. While bold and far-seeing, it could hardly overturn every single cultural artifact of its day, such as the fact that women simply, in that time, did not vote. The Constitution took no stance on this cultural artifact, one way or the other. Ditto for whatever attitudes did or did not exist regarding homosexuals, black people in office, and Muslims. Therefore, when talking about the “Great Experiment” these beloved icons of Leftist hysteria are not relevant.

    Over time, as cultural and societal attitudes changed, some of these changes were codified in the Constitution—women were given the vote and slaves were freed, for example. A couple of hundred years later, when homosexuality had less of a stigma and there was public pressure to acknowledge gay unions, the cry of “equality” became popular, but the hypocrisy of this outcry was soon made clear when efforts to establish legal equality of homosexual unions with that of marriage were declared insufficient, and the strident claim was made that true equality lay not in equal legal rights and protections of such unions but in the legal application of a single WORD.

    And, of course, the claim that somehow there is an outcry from the backward-looking that Muslimsshouldn’t be granted habeas corpus..” This is not only an out-and-out lie, but an extension of those preceding it.

    Then we move to the question of whether Progressivism, or Liberalism, or whatever tag the Left is using these days, actually marks a move TOWARD increased personal liberty, and/or an effort to realize the goals of those Great Experimenters.

    And the facts tell us no. History tells us no. The acts of those who represent this movement, in any of its guises, tell us no.

    Reality tells us that when government grows, personal liberty shrinks. This is a general observation. But we can bring it down to the personal, to the here and now, in this place, at this time, and look at the small but incremental encroachments upon personal freedom brought to us by this movement and its ideology.

    It may seem inconsequential to comment on the loss of freedom regarding what kinds of toilets we can buy, what kinds of light bulbs we can use, what kinds of cars manufacturers can build, but as I said, erosion of liberty is often incremental. These are just examples of losses of liberty that already affect each of us in some way. There are others that do not, yet, but which are in place and which could trip any of us up at any time, given the goals of those in power.

    Every one of our international communications is recorded and logged–phone calls, emails, and faxes. Government drones are engaging in warrantless surveillance of American citizens not even accused of breaking a law, in the hopes of finding an offense. Habeus Corpus has been suspended for everyone, not just Muslims, in certain circumstances. Warrantless searches of individuals take place hundreds of thousands of times a day in airports all over the country. Big Brother can listen in to conversations in vehicles equipped with certain “safety” features, without warrants, and these vehicles can be disabled from a distance, controlling their speed and even being shut down.

    The list goes on and on.

    And it is this same Left which seeks to curtail even more freedoms—controlling how warm our houses are in the winter and how cool in the summer, telling us that certain percentages of our energy must come from government-approved sources, adding to the cost of our gasoline by forcing us to pay for additives we don’t want and which have not been proved to be of benefit, and of course moving rapidly in the direction of complete government control of that most personal of activities, our own health care and decisions we make about it.

    I reject the entire premise of the article.

    • Retired Spook September 2, 2012 / 11:57 am

      I thought the article thought-provoking, but it completely fell apart at the end, where it tried to portray Barack Obama as a “great experimenter”. So I went back and read it again, and found it fundamentally flawed from the get-go. Upon a third reading, I realized it veered off into demagoguery early on.

      Amazona, I had EXACTLY the same reaction. It sounded like something Dennis might write, which is why I included it in my post.

      • neocon1 September 2, 2012 / 12:10 pm

        did the writer get into the doper al Ubama’s stash?

        . Barack Obama is such an American, KENYAN and his election is proof that the lab is still open, and that America in general will always be at the drawing board,

      • Amazona September 2, 2012 / 12:19 pm

        Spook, it reminded me of sarahbloch’s elaborate dissertations, in which she rather elegantly expounds upon utter and complete crap.

    • Amazona September 2, 2012 / 12:27 pm

      What is so funny about the article is its cluelessness, its blindness to the fact that Obama is experimenting only with moving America BACK into the always-failed policies of the Left. The regressive nature of the deceptively named “PROgressive” Movement depends on a retreat from actual liberty to the rigid structures of Leftist governance, under which the sheeple are allowed to do a couple of things they find really really important, like have unlimited sexual access to whomever they want, and the ability to kill off the unwanted results of those antics, which is then defined as “FREEDOM”, while the real freedoms of our society are locked up. “Freedom” becomes quite narrowly defined, as the ability to do what those on the far Left want to do, but does not extend to actual religious freedom, freedom of expression of opposing points of view, freedom to find abortion an atrocity, freedom to vote on issues like the use of the word MARRIAGE to define all domestic unions and not just those of one man and one woman, freedom to use incandescent light bulbs, freedom to mark the site of a fatal car crash with a cross, and so on.

      On the Left, everything that they define as a “freedom” has involved the taking of a freedom from someone else, and they simply do not recognize this.

      • neocon1 September 2, 2012 / 1:23 pm

        OT

        but why isnt this all over the news?
        Former Hill Staffer and Obama Admin. Official Accused of Drugging & Sexually Assaulting Women

      • neocon1 September 2, 2012 / 1:57 pm

        Top ICE Aide Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace

        “Created a frat house-type atmosphere...targeted to humiliate and intimidate male employees.”

  4. Jeremiah September 2, 2012 / 8:54 pm

    I have to say, a very bizarre essay, indeed. They talk ask if experimentation is what will “unite” Americans. I say just the opposite … we have been experimenting, fiddling with the left’s way of governing America since the ’60s, and the “benefits” we have reaped from doing so, have been countless murdered unborn children, a society with less thrift and ingenuity, a society with the family unit in disarray, I mean millions of marriages destroyed. Millions of children without a father, and in some cases a mother, as one or the other leaves/splits and never shows again. More people on government assistance than ever before in history, and it just keeps piling on.

    Yes, we’ve been doing it the left’s way for a long time, and the human condition, at least in America continues to get worse, as it does in other places around the world where leftist policies are followed.

    America reminds me of this young lady whose beauty and talent were wasted, because of the kind of freedoms that the left wishes for society to inherit…

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