Is the problem that too many Americans are lazy or weak, or do they just not care who runs their lives? We have promoted self-government worldwide for generations but now seem ready to throw it away in exchange for something insidious that many Americans appear to prefer to freedom. Are we approaching the time when we have too many defectors ready to give up our noble experiment in self-government in exchange for big government trinkets?
No, self-government doesn’t mean trusting big government
James Madison spoke of “the virtue among men for self-government.”1 Barack Obama talked of a system of self-government that doesn’t work without trust.2 Herbert Hoover, a president fated with the worst downturn this country has ever suffered, talked of the “constant dangers from which self-government must be safeguarded.”3 The words of one of these men were a lie. Government can never be trusted.
Is self-government so much effort that it is better to turn over rule to big government? The Founding Fathers understood the responsibilities of self-government, but they could not have envisioned the smorgasbord of treats that our flawed interpretation of government by the people now offers the people.
Self-government requires participation. The many Americans who have proved they are too lazy, apathetic, or disinterested to spend a few minutes voting are not good candidates for the fortitude self-government requires (see: Political Freedom Doesn’t Matter to Illinois Voters).
Self-government also demands personal economic strength, but 31.9% of our unemployed haven’t worked for 27 weeks or more and 2.3 million have not looked for a job in the past month. Only 62.7% of Americans are even in the labor force.4 That speaks to weakness, vulnerability, and dependence. Americans who rode rail cars in search of work during the Depression made a statement that shames their contemporaries who have given up because work is hard to find.
When Americans are weak, opportunists knock
Unless the people make decisions for themselves, opportunists will step in who are more than willing to make decisions for them. That’s how we got to where we are now, with a president tossing promises to the huddled masses in exchange for letting big government run their lives:
First – middle-class economics means helping working families feel more secure in a world of constant change. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year.5
Government assistance from childcare through retirement? The myth of lower taxes? Does self-government mean federal guarantees that stretch from the cradle to the grave? Private industry used to provide that kind of reassurance with lifetime employment and generous pensions and health care in old age. It stopped because it cost too much. Few but government workers get those kinds of benefits now. The rest of us either plan to rely on ourselves when our working days are over, or decide we should believe big government lies about the solvency of Social Security.
For weak, lazy Americans swapping big government for self-government is not without its rewards. There are benefits for those willing to settle for whatever the government decides to offer. The change from independent citizen to dependent subject might be almost imperceptible if you weren’t watching for it, given the glacial pace of government, but Barack Obama has helped to change that. The slow creep of big government has accelerated under this president. He has sought to control everything from what our kids eat to whether or not our neighbors are citizens without the slightest acknowledgement that these decisions should not be the Federal Government’s or the president’s to make.
Government-funded health care, government school menus and food restrictions, free college, universal preschool, immigration amnesty, school loan forgiveness, mortgage assistance and refinancing, and the growing list of programs already passed or waiting for the opportunity to become law is almost endless. Add to it growing threats of reordering society by manipulating civil rights and discrimination laws and you have the perfect scenario to convince Americans to end self-government as we know it.
Self-government means never trusting the government
When Barack Obama talked about self-government not working without trust he wasn’t talking about the people’s trust in themselves to chart America’s course. He was talking about placing trust in the government to make those decisions on our behalf.
Liberal rulers target those who have made being weak, lazy, and helpless a personal choice. Those people don’t need self-government. They are happy being governed. They will also be the first to cry out when the benefits of being controlled stop flowing. They will never have the insight to blame themselves for destroying our future by trading self-government for assurances that they can place their trust in Washington. Anyone who swallows that poison deserves whatever they get, but how many will it take to shift the balance and bring the rest of us down, too?