When a Tea Partier says something like “I want my county back,” leftists reliably label the sentiment as racist, sexist, homophobic, mean-spirited, and a lot of other things that are meant to be uncomplimentary. Well, I’m not an active member of the Tea Party movement, but I am sympathetic to it. And if I were to say “I want my country back,” here’s what I would mean by it:
Let’s start with the unlawfulness of government. The Constitution of the United States creates a “national” government of limited and enumerated powers, to act on behalf of the States and their citizens in certain matters. This “national” government has nevertheless blatantly and persistently exceeded its rightful powers. Moreover, much of what is done by all governments — not just the “national” government — is in fact unlawful at its core. There is a fundamental tenet of law — one that precedes and informs the Constitution — which is that “law” is law only when it serves the general welfare, regardless of its official status as an legislative, executive, or judicial act. Therefore, it is truly unlawful for the “national” government or any other government in the United States to interfere with the lives, liberty, or property of Americans for the purpose of promoting special interests, however laudable those interests may seem. And yet, the “laws” under which Americans labor are, in the main, enactments that serve special interests and the power-lust of politicians, bureaucrats, and judges. In sum, I want my country (and its various parts) to return to the true “rule of law,” which is to promote the general welfare by
- protecting all Americans from their enemies within and without
- ensuring the free movement of all Americans
- ensuring the free exchange of goods and services
- and nothing more.
One of the most insidious ways in which government interferes with our liberty is by exercising a subtle but powerful form of thought control. It is not the business of government to tell us what to believe or how we must arrive at our beliefs. But government — which puts it imprimatur on the vast majority of educational institutions and much of the “factual” information in many fields of endeavor — does all of those things. Thus, contrary to the intentions of the Founders, we have become a nation imbued with official beliefs about matters ranging from the origins of the universe to the goodness of our enemies to the climatic effects of (puny) human endeavors.
One of the key beliefs instilled by government — directly and through those who are in its thrall — is its beneficent role in our economic and social affairs. It never seems to occur to the proponents of governmental interference — or to its relatively few of its opponents — that there is a living, breathing case study which disproves the beneficence of economic meddling. When government spending and regulation played a tiny role in the economic affairs of the United States — from the 1790s to around 1900 — GDP grew at an annual rate of 4.2 percent. Now, with the regulatory-welfare state fully upon us, GDP grows at an annual rate of 3.1 percent (and falling). The difference between those two rates — when compounded over a generation, a lifetime, or a century – ranges from significantly large to enormous. The road to economic lassitude is paved by the good intentions of regulation and spending by government. Liberty — part of which is the right to make mistakes and benefit from the resulting lessons — is a collateral victim of regulatory zeal. Liberty is a victim of government spending, as well, because it deprives individuals of some portion of the rewards for their labor and capital, and the full enjoyment of those rewards.
With respect to social matters, there is only one way to put it: Government is an enemy of society. Its main mission, when you think about it for more than a minute, is to supplant voluntary and beneficial social arrangements with schemes hatched in the vacuum of intellectualism. It is as if there were nothing to the eons-long learning that is expressed in the Ten Commandments and Golden Rule, and embodied in churches, clubs, and other voluntary, private associations. We must, instead, take our social marching orders from elites, who have their own peculiar views of what is right and just: serial polygamy, pederasty, and infanticide, to name just a few things. The social engineering favored by intellectualoids arises not from the wisdom of tradition, which fosters stable, trusting, and supportive social relationships, but from idle theorizing and a large dose of adolescent and post-adolescent rebellion.
Now, after a more than a century of “progressive” destruction of the Constitution and its restraints on government, Americans no longer enjoy the protection of government and the self-policing restraints of social custom. Instead, Americans suffer the fads and whims of the self-anointed, whose legacy lingers after their departure from the scene.
Now, after more than a century of “progressive” interference in the economic affairs of Americans, our progeny face unaffordable financial commitments, which they will be expected to honor even as their standard of living withers under the assault of taxation and regulation.
Now, after more than a century of social experimentation in which anti-social behavior has been exalted and long-standing voluntary social arrangements and institutions have been stripped of their authority, too many of our progeny are hooked on hard drugs, casual sex, and gratuitous violence as forms of “entertainment” and as “lifestyles.”
I want my country back.