In the early 1980s, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher emerged victorious from a war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands that propelled her to a landslide victory in the 1983 general election. On July 19, 1984, she gave a speech to the assembled legislators of her Conservative party, in which she said that she had defeated “the enemy without,” but that “the enemy within . . . is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty.” She was referring to government-sector unions, and specifically the mineworkers’ union, which was then attempting to hold Britain hostage. (In Britain, the mines had been nationalized, hence their workers had a government-sector union.)
The union was able to attempt that because generations of socialist governments — including nominally Conservative ones — had increased the size and scope of the state and allowed the unions to acquire privileges that put them beyond the law. Today, with America’s prosperity already hobbled under the weight of bigger and more expansive government, we see that pattern replicating itself here. We must confront this enemy within before it crushes us.