In a recent article the humorous and provocative writer Mark Steyn asked pointedly if we live in the time of the twilight of America.
Citing the recent power outages on the East Coast after freak storms toppled aging high voltage lines as an example of the deterioration of America’s fundamental infrastructure, Steyn makes the point that while the U.S. debt is quickly moving toward $20 trillion, priority items in our country, like replacing sagging electric lines with buried cables, go undone. Whether it is a bridge that collapses or power lines that snap, without the basic essentials like roads and power, our country will not be able to sustain even the current ailing level of economic strength.
As they say, meanwhile, back at the ranch, the current Obama administration manages to find yet another way to “tax” the American people through the incomprehensibly complex legislation of Obamacare, a piece of bureaucratic handiwork that will put another massive financial strain of debt on the American public, when the debt is already $200,000 per citizen.
The U.S. health care system does, in fact, seem to be a strange contradiction of realities. On the one hand, the world’s best facilities, doctors and standards can still be found in the U.S. But on the other hand, health care costs can almost put a family in bankruptcy, when something like a couple of stitches can cost $1,500. But Obamacare seems like an attempt to use a bulldozer to rearrange the living room furniture.
One basic premise of Americans from the days of the Boston Tea Party has been that no king or government has the right to govern without the consent of the people. In principle the Founding Fathers believed there were no privileged people like the European aristocracy, thus the famous line in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. And since all were equal, all had a right and responsibility to equally work for a fair and just society.
Their declaration and the principles upon which they founded it were unprecedented in human history. They launched a nation of exceptional freedom. Included in this exceptional freedom was the freedom to disagree with government policy. Later the founders would write the Constitution, spelling out the freedoms and rights and give the legitimate ways for the American people to avoid ever coming under the oppression of a king or a dictator or a totalitarian regime.
Every four years the president and members of Congress would be subject to the will of the people through elections. The American people, using the power of their vote, are the bosses of the president and Congress. They can elect them or they can fire them. The governing powers are subject, according to the unique and world’s oldest living Constitution, to the will of the people.
But what if the people lose their will to freedom? What if they become apathetic or misguided into thinking that a “nanny state” is better than individual responsibility? Something like that happened in Germany after the first world war.
The German people became convinced that the Nazis could resurrect their country from the ashes of defeat. The Nazis built new roads and bridges, established a million-man army with the world’s most advanced weapons, put meat on everyone’s table and money in their pocket. In the balance of things the Germans decided that the disappearance of some Jews here and there and having to be careful what they said in public was excused by their heightened standard of living. In the end they lost everything.
Times are different some say; people have advanced beyond falling for someone like Hitler. Someone should pass along that memo to the people of North Korea, Turkmenistan or China. In the broad view of human history, the fact that the United States has endured for 236 years without a dictator is one of the most amazing exceptions. France had Napoleon, England had Henry VIII and George to name a few, Russia had Stalin and Germany Hitler. It seems that human nature tends toward oppressing and being oppressed.
I hope Steyn is wrong about America’s twilight. The only thing that will reverse the trend is for Americans to reclaim their heritage of embracing and passionately loving their exceptional freedoms: freedom from debt, freedom from dependence on the state, freedom to use their votes to appoint just leaders.
If the growing national debt or Obamacare or any other agenda or problem threaten to rob Americans of their freedoms, we must exercise our right to vote for men and women committed to the authority of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. That is the only way to keep the sun from setting on our exceptional experiment in democracy.