Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ideology is front and center. Finally.

The pundits and political operatives are still spinning like mad, with regard to the President's much-talked about comments in Roanoke, Va. Did he just take a swipe at American businesses and entrepreneurs? Or were his remarks taken out of context? The Romney Campaign--eager to get the issue of tax returns off of the front page--has gone after the President's comments with guns a-blazin'. And rightly so; it's serious red meat and plays well to both Romney's base and independents. Obama's words:
There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. 
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
But setting aside the spin and the spinmeisters, we finally have something really important to talk about, when it comes to differentiating Obama and Romney: ideology. Romney has actually realized this. In Boston today, Romney said the following:
Now, I know there are some people who think what the president said was just a gaffe. It wasn't a gaffe. It was instead his ideology. The president does in fact believe that people who build enterprises like this really aren't responsible for it, but in fact it's a collective success of the whole society, so somehow builds enterprises like this. In my view, we ought to celebrate people who start enterprises and employ other people.
Truth. Pure, unadulterated truth. It's uncouth to call the President a socialist or a communist, but let's get real. If nothing else, his words, policies, and actions reveal him to be a collectivist. Socialism, communism and even fascism are collectivist ideologies.

What is collectivism? Simply put, it's the reverse of individualism as a standard for structuring society. Collectivists believe there is no "going it alone," that society can only function properly when interdependence is the rule, not independence. And those words--individualism and independence--resonate loudly in the American Experience; they have been core principals since the Founding.

In the collectivist--the Obama--model, government is critical with regard to its role in forging the interdependence of all citizens. Pulling away from the herd is not something one should desire, not something that should be cheered, but rather aberrant behavior. It needs to be--again, in Obama's worldview--corrected or even punished. Thus, the successful person must attribute his or her success to the rest of society, must set outside individuality for the sake of the whole, and--ultimately--must accept the government's lassos--often in the form of punitive taxation or new regulations--that serve to return him or her to the fold.

There is no doubt that there must be some measure of cooperation in a nation, a community, a society. And those measures were established in the Constitution and in the laws governing various States and communities in the United States. But the entire point, the raison d'etre of the Constitution was to limit where and when the government could mandate cooperation, could enforce a collectivist approach.

The President's ideology sees no limits on such enforcement, very much like that of Elizabeth Warren. What I said about Warren and her failure to understand the Social Contract is worth repeating here:
But there is no obligation from citizen to citizen in the Social Contract, aside from following the law. None. Zero. To be clear, I owe you none of my income, my property, whatsoever. Locke established this element and it was restated clearly in the Declaration of Independence: an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 
It is true that the factory owner uses the public goods paid for by taxes from all (well, most all). But the factory owner paid those taxes to. And continues to pay them. The factory owner is not in debt to the rest of the public because he/she was willingly to assume the risk of building a factory. Nor is the rest of the public in debt to the factory owner (too big to fail), even though the factory provides jobs, creates wealth, and sustains other businesses. Both viewpoints are wrong-headed in the extreme. 
The Social Contract provides security and a basic structure of society to allow citizens to live their lives, to take the risks they want to take, to earn a living, to accumulate or not accumulate wealth as they see fit, within the rules established and enforced by government. It's nothing more than that. It's not a mandate to level society, to redistribute wealth, or the like. Exactly the opposite. It's an agreement that--per the Constitution--this won't happen, that property is the individual's and cannot be arbitrarily confiscated.
Obama--like Warren--has a warped view of the Social Contract, wherein he believes it gives the government leave to do whatever it deems necessary to "fix" society and that the government is, in fact, the critical player in all things; concerns for the individual are secondary at most. And most importantly, Obama is incapable of processing the role of risk in a free market capitalist society, how the willingness of some to accept risk creates economic growth and ultimately makes possible the infrastructure and safety nets provided by the government. He actually believes the latter things come first, that the government simply mandated a system wherein economic success was a given.

And from that assumption, he jumps to the untenable conclusion that such success was a collectivist effort from the get-go, that things were intended to go this way. The individual is ultimately a non-factor. If not Bill Gates or Henry Ford, then someone else. No credit need be given because each is just filling a role and can be interchanged with another at will, with little or no effect on the end result.

This is where Romney should take his campaign, in my opinion: to ideology and nowhere else. He has history on his side, the words, writings, and deeds of the Founders, of the people who made the United States the wealthiest, most successful nation in all of history. He shouldn't let up, because Obama can't help himself on this issue. The President can be counted on to bare his collectivist soul if the right buttons are pushed because he's not ashamed of it in the least; he thinks he has the right of it.

And in that regard, I leave you with some quotes on the subject (pay particular attention to the last):
As government regulations grow slowly, we become used to the harness. Habit is a powerful force, and we no longer feel as intensely as we once would have [the] constriction of our liberties that would have been utterly intolerable a mere half century ago.--Judge Robert Bork

What is common to many is least taken care of, for all men have greater regard for what is their own than what they possess in common with others.--Aristotle

The principle that the end justifies the means is in individualist ethics regarded as the denial of all morals. In collectivist ethics it becomes necessarily the supreme rule.--Friedrich Hayek

A State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands--even for beneficial purposes--will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.--J.S. Mill

Given that the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism, and of Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century must also be a century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority...a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State.--Benito Mussoloni
Cheers, all.

No comments:

Post a Comment