Politics & Policy

Point of No Return

Will we vote for the same soothing siren song as our enervated allies?

Across the electric wires, the hum is ceaseless: Give it up, loser. Don’t go down with the ship when it’s swept away by the Obama tsunami. According to newspaper reports, polls show that most people believe newspaper reports claiming that most people believe polls showing that most people have read newspaper reports agreeing that polls show he’s going to win.

In the words of Publishers’ Clearing House, he may already have won! The battleground states have all turned blue, the reddest of red states are rapidly purpling. Don’t you know, little fool? You never can win. Use your mentality, wake up to reality. Why be the last right-wing pundit to sign up with Small-Government Conservatives For The Liberal Supermajority? We still need pages for the coronation, and there’s a pair of velvet knickerbockers with your name on it.

Yes, technically, this is still a two-party state, but one of the parties is like Elton John’s post-Oscar bash and the other is a church social in Wasilla. As David Sedaris put it in The New Yorker:

“I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of s–t with bits of broken glass in it?’

“To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

Well, to be honest, I’ve never much cared for chicken.

McCain vs Obama is not the choice many of us would have liked in an ideal world. But then it’s not an “ideal world”, and the belief that it can be made so is one of the things that separates those who think Obama will “heal the planet” and those of us who support McCain faute de mieux. I agree with Thomas Sowell that an Obama-Pelosi supermajority will mark what he calls “a point of no return”. It would not be, as some naysayers scoff, “Jimmy Carter’s second term”, but something far more transformative. The new president would front the fourth great wave of liberal annexation – the first being FDR’s New Deal, the second LBJ’s Great Society, and the third the incremental but remorseless cultural advance when Reagan conservatives began winning victories at the ballot box and liberals turned their attention to the other levers of the society, from grade school up. The terrorist educator William Ayers, Obama’s patron in Chicago, is an exemplar of the last model: forty years ago, he was in favor of blowing up public buildings; then he figured out it was easier to get inside and undermine them from within.

All three liberal waves have transformed American expectations of the state. The spirit of the age is: Ask not what your country can do for you, demand it. Why can’t the government sort out my health care? Why can’t they pick up my mortgage?

In his first inaugural address, Calvin Coolidge said: “I favor the policy of economy, not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people.” That’s true in a more profound sense than he could have foreseen. In Europe, lavish social-democratic government has transformed citizens into eternal wards of the nanny state: the bureaucracy’s assumption of every adult responsibility has severed Continentals from the most basic survival impulse, to the point where unaffordable entitlements on shriveled birth rates have put a question mark over some of the oldest nation states on earth. A vote for an Obama-Pelosi-Barney Frank-ACORN supermajority is a vote for a Europeanized domestic policy that is, as the eco-types like to say, “unsustainable”.

More to the point, the only reason why Belgium has gotten away with being Belgium and Sweden Sweden and Germany Germany this long is because America’s America. The soft comfortable cocoon in which western Europe has dozed this last half-century is girded by cold hard American power. What happens when the last serious western nation votes for the same soothing beguiling siren song as its enervated allies?

“People of the world,” declared Senator Obama sonorously at his self-worship service in Germany, “look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.”

No, sorry. History proved no such thing. In the Cold War, the world did not stand as one. One half of Europe was a prison, and in the other half far too many people – the Barack Obamas of the day – were happy to go along with that division in perpetuity. And the wall came down not because “the world stood as one” but because a few courageous people stood against the conventional wisdom of the day. Had Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan been like Helmut Schmidt and Francois Mitterand and Pierre Trudeau and Jimmy Carter, the Soviet empire (notwithstanding its own incompetence) would have survived and the wall would still be standing. Senator Obama’s feeble passivity will get you a big round of applause precisely because it’s the easy option: Do nothing but hold hands and sing the easy listening anthems of one-worldism, and the planet will heal.

To govern is to choose. And sometimes the choices are tough ones. When has Barack Obama chosen to take a stand? When he got along to get along with the Chicago machine? When he sat for 20 years in the pews of an ugly neo-segregationist race-baiting grievance-monger? When he voted to deny the surviving “fetuses” of botched abortions medical treatment? When in his short time in national politics he racked up the most liberal – ie, the most doctrinaire, the most orthodox, the most reflex – voting record in the Senate? Or when, on those many occasions the questions got complex and required a choice, he dodged it and voted merely “present”?

The world rarely stands as one. You can, as Reagan and Thatcher did, stand up. Or, like Obama voting “present”, you can stand down.

Nobody denies that, in promoting himself from “community organizer” to the world’s President-designate in nothing flat, he has shown an amazing and impressively ruthless single-mindedness. But the path of personal glory has been, in terms of policy and philosophy, the path of least resistance.

Peggy Noonan thinks a President Obama will be like the dog who chases the car and finally catches it: Now what? I think Obama will be content to be King Barack the Benign, Spreader of Wealth and Healer of Planets. His rise is, in many ways, testament to the persistence of the monarchical urge even in a two-century old republic. So the “Now what?” questions will be answered by others, beginning with the liberal supermajority in Congress. And as he has done all his life he will take the path of least resistance. An Obama Administration will pitch America toward EU domestic policy and UN foreign policy. Thomas Sowell is right: It would be a “point of no return”, the most explicit repudiation of the animating principles of America. For a vigilant republic of limited government and self-reliant citizens, it would be a Declaration of Dependence.

If a majority of Americans want that, we holdouts must respect their choice. But, if you don’t want it, vote accordingly.

© Mark Steyn 2008

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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