Some of the comments on There Ain’t No More Middle Ground are worth reading and thinking about. It is interesting to receive well-developed commentary from thoughtful readers. Here are some good ones followed by some additional commentary by me:
An excellent article and I would like to attempt to answer the question posed in the final paragraph:
There is no specific time or moment when, “we stopped being a free country”. It was a process. Had it been a moment, it is likely the citizens would have recognized the danger and once again forcefully put their servant- the government- back in its place. And likely those in government were not ignorant of this fact. So they went about fundamentally transforming the nation in a much more subtle way; through compromise. Gradually, the people chose to overlook principles and became conditioned to the false concept of what the article refers to as, “middle ground”.
When principles of personal behavior or government policy are involved, there is and never has been a middle ground. Such thought utterly destroys the moral concept of an unchanging standard of right and wrong and clouds our thoughts with hazy shades of grey. Each and every compromise along the way chipped away at the foundation upon which our Republic was established; There is a Creator and He gave us the Manufacturer’s Handbook on how we should live. While the Founders allowed plenty of room for the individual to disbelieve in the Creator Himself, there was no compromising the principles He gave us to live by.
So the government began by doing “good” things they were not authorized to do and will end by doing whatever they please with total disregard for the concept of “good”. Because, you see, it has all become relative. There is no moral standard recognized by the nation as a whole. And unless/until the citizenry of this Republic return to the belief that principles are of the utmost importance, we are lost both as a people and as a nation. We will never rise above what the two parties offer us today; the choice of the lesser of two evils.
Some readers objected to the assumed equivalence of the two parties/presidents:
“Foks, these are the same policies, save minor adjustments.”
This statement betrays a incredible lack of critical thinking. To say the current policies are even in the same ballpark is to abandon your brain. Yes, George Bush expanded the government. But his adminstration was not a Marxist cabal. Come on, Monty, you are not usually so careless with words or thoughts.
… Monty – I acknowledge Bush did much statist policy. Still, to make the statement you did is completely ridiculous. It would be like saying Charles Manson and a shoplifter are identical, because they are both criminals. Since they are identical, I take it you would just as soon now have Obama as Bush? If so, you have gone off the deep end.
I don’t totally agree that both parties (rep and dem) are identical. If the democrat party did not exist or was marginalized to the sidelines, what kind of country would we have? It actually seems that Republican presidents have been the worse compromisers. Even Reagan allowed the federal budget to double under his watch. His basic deal with dems was to allow him to build up the military and defeat the soviet union and he would overlook or go along with greatly increased social spending. Then both Bush’s did little to curtail federal growth. That said, a total republican congress could be controlled. Enough tea party types could be sent to keep it in line.
To Reader Doug: it is literally impossible to imagine a world without the Democrat Party or some party of its ilk. If there were none, politicians and voters would soon invent one. The nature of government, once principles (strict Constitutional limits) are abandoned, is to engage in vote buying via redistribution. It is and has always been a sure-fire way to political success and power.
The point that Republicans have moved toward this same behavior is a good one. They have done so in order to stay relevant. Contrast that with the Libertarian Party. In the beginning of the country, libertarian ideas and ideals were represented by mainstream parties. Today these ideas have been displaced. The modern libertarians are non-players, with a party in name only.
To continue in the game, a political party prostitutes itself to remain relevant. In advanced stages of political decay, the welfare state appears. This end was not planned, but evolved as the nature of competitive politics continuously ratcheted toward prostitution. Libertarians refused to play this game. Now, in terms of politics, they are irrelevant. Their ideas are still valid, but their movement is no longer a factor in modern politics. They refused to become prostitutes so they stand on the sidelines as political virgins.
To Reader Kent:
The way to understand how these are the same policies is to compare Bush’s policies with what was considered “conservative” twenty, fifty or 100 years ago. Our ancestors would react to Bush much like many of us react to Obama.
Bush’s policies don’t look so radical if you compare them with his immediate predecessor(s). But that is equivalent to the slow-heating of the pot in which the frog resides. Obama was not content to cook the frog slowly and turned up the heat in a manner that shocked most. He attempted to accelerate the process whereas his predecessors did not.
Had there been no Obama, we would have reached a similar point probably 20 or so years from now. Then, many of Obama’s current policies would appear mainstream. In that sense, there is little different between Bush’s policies and Obama’s. They have the same genes. People are “shocked” because Obama had the courage (impatience, lack of discipline, imprudence????) to accelerate the trend in a manner that outran people’s conditioning. Obama tried to skip a generation or two in the development of Leviathan.
I hope this reconciles why I believe the policies are the same. They are so in the sense that they are on the same path. One is merely an earlier stage of the other.
Arguing policies is different from arguing or attributing motives. I suspect Bush and most of his predecessors did not have the intent of transforming the country or even recognize how these incremental changes were doing so. I take Obama at his word when he says he wants to “fundamentally transform” the country. Hopefully his impatience has awakened the people to the fact that they have been frogs sitting in a pot of water that has been heating up for generations.
If there is anything to be thankful for regarding the Obama presidency it will be an awakening of the people and a return to the individualist spirit that made this country the greatest in the world.
To answer your question as to which criminal I would prefer, my answer is neither. Why should we have to choose between a psychopath and a shoplifter? The lesser of two evils is still an evil. Unfortunately the system corrupts whatever ethics a man brings into government. It is so corrupt that politics likely attracts only those with pre-existing character defects and then makes them worse.
In a world where power rules, the worst always get to the top as pointed out by Hayek in “The Road to Serfdom.”