The meaning of ‘Forward,’ &c.


Do you ever worry that the trend of life is ever lefter? I do. When the Obama campaign says, “Forward,” what do they mean? Lefter, I think: bigger government, a smaller private sphere. A private sphere that shrinks and shrinks.

Those who oppose this trend, of course, are reactionary. They (we) are backward, rather than progressive.

We have our victories — the Reagan interval, for example. But what did he do? He managed to slow the rate of increase of the government, a wee bit. Big whoop (ultimately).

Then the Republicans forced Clinton to reform welfare (against the wishes of a majority of Democrats). Hurray! But that reform can be easily undone, yes? Isn’t Obama doing that even now?

In the dark of night, I fear that our victories are just spasms on a decline. Dump him out on the dock, and a fish will flip, mightily. These are his last spasms of life. He has quite a kick in him. And then . . .

There was an expression about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: “The Mountie always gets his man.” Sometimes — again, in the dark of night — I feel that the Left always gets its way. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But eventually.

This is wrong, right? Totally wrong — dark-of-night nonsense. Marxian determinism is bunk. Right?

Anyway . . .

Speaking of night, I was glancing the other night at Economics in One Lesson, the 1946 classic by Henry Hazlitt. Toward the end, he quotes William Graham Sumner. I’ll quote Sumner, as Hazlitt does, and then quote Hazlitt. First, Sumner (from 1883):

As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, B and C shall do for X. . . . What I want to do is to look up C. . . . I call him the Forgotten Man. . . . He is the man who never is thought of. He is the victim of the reformer, social speculator and philanthropist, and I hope to show you before I get through that he deserves your notice both for his character and for the many burdens which are laid upon him.

And here is Hazlitt:

It is an historic irony that when this phrase, the Forgotten Man, was revived in the nineteen thirties, it was applied, not to C, but to X; and C, who was then being asked to support still more X’s, was more completely forgotten than ever. It is C, the Forgotten Man, who is always called upon to stanch the politician’s bleeding heart by paying for his vicarious generosity.

I think of Joe Biden, braying and preaching about the “social doctrine” — but barely contributing a dime of his own to charity.

Back to Reagan for a moment: His achievement (one of them) was to slow the rate of increase of the government. And I remember how the kids at my university reacted to this. They marched, chanting, “Reagan, Bush, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.”

I wonder who taught them to think and act this way?

Let me sing a song I have sung for many years — there is a fresh occasion for doing so. The song goes like this: Republicans nominate black men and women to run for office, and those men and women are beaten by white liberal Democrats, fair and square. Then the Democrats taunt the Republican party, saying, “Ha-ha: You have no black officeholders. Racists.”

I remember the year 2006: Lynn Swann was the GOP gubernatorial nominee in Pennsylvania; Michael Steele was the GOP Senate nominee in Maryland; Ken Blackwell was the GOP gubernatorial nominee in Ohio. They were all beaten by garden-variety white liberals. Fine.

But then the Democrats got to say, “Ha-ha: You have no black officeholders. Racists.”

This year, Republicans adored Mia Love, who ran for Congress in Utah. She lost. And they adore Allen West, who lost after one term.

“Ha-ha,” say the Democrats. Which is a lousy and nasty thing to do.

We are in a Rubio moment — there is widespread enthusiasm, among Republicans, for the junior senator from Florida. I like him too, a lot. He’s one of my favorite people in politics. But consider something.

Mitt Romney, whom we all must dump on, had an impressive background. He had started a business, and helped many other businesses. He ran the Olympics — turned it around. He had kind of a side career in philanthropy. Then there was politics — and the governorship of a state. He had done things.