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Reversing Obama’s ‘Soft Despotism’
House Republicans should follow Tocqueville’s advice.


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Michael Barone

Tocqueville, after describing in Democracy in America how Americans avoided the perils of equality by forming voluntary associations, engaging in local government, and believing in religions that disciplined their pursuit of self-interest into a pursuit of virtue, painted the picture of a darker future.

Above a democratic populace, he writes,

 . . . an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, rigid, far-seeing and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that.

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Thus Tocqueville, writing in the 1830s, foresees Obamacare and the crony capitalism that produces a Super Bowl commercial from a government- and union-controlled company that seeks Obama’s re-election.

It is worth quoting more from a political thinker as far elevated above almost any other as Mozart was above almost all other composers.

Thus, taking each individual by turns in its powerful hands and kneading him as it likes, the sovereign extends its arms over society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way to surpass the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrial animals of which the government is the shepherd.

That is what House Republicans are fighting to reverse. With their presidential candidates at odds, with the mainstream media disparaging them at every turn, they need to exercise prudence and not give in to passion that could defeat their purpose.

— Michael Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner. © 2012 The Washington Examiner.



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