Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Becoming European. The Foundersí vision of the people as sovereign lost on Tuesday.
National Review ^ | 11/09/2012 | Jonah Goldberg

Posted on 11/09/2012 7:12:49 AM PST by SeekAndFind

The Progressives won on Tuesday.

I don’t mean the people who voted Democrat who call themselves “progressive.” Though they won, too.

I mean the Progressives who’ve been waging a century-long effort to transform our American-style government into a European-style state.

The words “government” and “state” are often used interchangeably, but they are really different things. According to the Founders’ vision, the people are sovereign and the government belongs to us. Under the European notion of the state, the people are creatures of the state, significant only as parts of the whole.

This European version of the state can be nice. One can live comfortably under it. Many decent and smart people sincerely believe this is the intellectually and morally superior way to organize society. And, to be fair, it’s not a binary thing. The line between the European and American models is blurry. France is not a Huxleyan dystopia, and America is not and has never been an anarchist’s utopia, nor do conservatives want it to be one.

The distinction between the two worldviews is mostly a disagreement over first assumptions about which institutions should take the lead in our lives. It is an argument about what the habits of the American heart should be. Should we live in a country where the first recourse is to appeal to the government, or should government interventions be reserved as a last resort?

These assumptions are formed and informed by political rhetoric. President Obama ran a campaign insisting that Democrats believe “we’re all in it together” and that Republicans think you should be “on your own” no matter what hardships you face. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ “keepers,” according to Obama, and the state is how we “keep” each other. The introductory video at the Democratic National Convention proclaimed, “Government is the one thing we all belong to.”

Exactly 100 years before Barack Obama’s reelection victory, Woodrow Wilson was elected president for the first time. It was Wilson’s belief that the old American understanding of government needed to be Europeanized. The key to this transformation was convincing Americans that we all must “marry our interests to the state.”

The chief obstacle for this mission is the family. The family, rightly understood, is an autonomous source of meaning in our lives and the chief place where we sacrifice for, and cooperate with, others. It is also the foundation for local communities and social engagement. As social scientist Charles Murray likes to say, unmarried men rarely volunteer to coach kids’ soccer teams.

Progressivism always looked at the family with skepticism and occasionally hostility. Reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman hoped state-backed liberation of children would destroy “the unchecked tyranny . . . of the private home.” Wilson believed the point of education was to make children as unlike their parents as possible. Hillary Clinton, who calls herself a modern progressive and not a liberal, once said we must move beyond the notion there is “any such thing as someone else’s child.”

One of the stark lessons of Obama’s victory is the degree to which the Republican party has become a party for the married and the religious. If only married people voted, Romney would have won in a landslide. If only married religious people voted, you’d need a word that means something much bigger than landslide. Obviously, Obama got some votes from the married and the religious (such people can marry their interests to the state, too), but as a generalization, the Obama coalition heavily depends on people who do not see family or religion as rival or superior sources of material aid or moral authority.

Marriage, particularly among the working class, has gone out of style. In 1960, 72 percent of adults were married. Today, barely half are. The numbers for blacks are far more stark. The well-off still get married, though, which is a big reason why they’re well-off. “It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,” Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University, told the New York Times.

Religion, too, is waning dramatically in America. Gallup finds regular church attendance down to 43 percent of Americans. Other researchers think it might be less than half that.

In the aftermath of massive American urbanization and industrialization, and in the teeth of a brutal economic downturn, Franklin D. Roosevelt promised to fight for the “forgotten man” — the American who felt lost amidst the social chaos of the age. Obama campaigned for “Julia” — the affluent single mom who had no family and no ostensible faith to fall back on.

In short, the American people are starting to look like Europeans, and as a result they want a European form of government.

— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: 2012aftermath; constitution; elections; europe

1 posted on 11/09/2012 7:13:00 AM PST by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

The 50% of American voters that lost their freedom (on
Tuesday) to be left alone and live their lives as they wish...
are now in the cotton field and you know who is on the horse
holding the shotgun.


2 posted on 11/09/2012 7:19:39 AM PST by NeverForgetBataan (I am become Barry... destroyer of wealth)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
The Founders’ vision of the people as sovereign lost on Tuesday.

Disagree with this claim.

The people, in their sovereign capacity, made a decision to delegate additional powers to their government. Sovereignty is not lost when powers are delegated, only when the delegate starts to believe his powers are innate and not delegated, and the sovereign people start to agree.

Of course, this almost always happens. The Roman and Byzantine emperors, all the way up to 1453, exercised their absolute power in theory only as delegates of the sovereign "Senate and People of Rome."

The real rub will come only when (or if) a significant movement arises among the People to reassume powers that have been delegated. Recent history does not point in the direction of such a movement developing.

3 posted on 11/09/2012 7:20:08 AM PST by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

The tipping point happened four years ago.

As long as the MSM exists in its current form, this will continue. Even if Obama lost, Progressive middle America will vote for the next socialist who comes along.

Topple the MSM, and this might change. Otherwise, it won’t.


4 posted on 11/09/2012 7:23:31 AM PST by mbarker12474 (If thine enemy offend thee, give his childe a drum.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

The tipping point happened four years ago.

As long as the MSM exists in its current form, this will continue. Even if Obama lost, Progressive middle America will vote for the next socialist who comes along.

Topple the MSM, and this might change. Otherwise, it won’t.


5 posted on 11/09/2012 7:23:38 AM PST by mbarker12474 (If thine enemy offend thee, give his childe a drum.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: NeverForgetBataan

“...that lost their freedom...to be left alone and live their lives as they wish...”

I think part of our problem is the breadth and depth of the “leave me alone while I do what I want” attitude. The other side has more cohesion.


6 posted on 11/09/2012 7:53:05 AM PST by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan
“Recent history does not point in the direction of such a movement developing.”

Who is buying all those guns and why? Maybe people just need a decent leader around whom to coalesce.

7 posted on 11/09/2012 7:55:50 AM PST by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: NeverForgetBataan

McCain, 2008 popular vote: 58,319,442

Romney, 2012 popular vote: 58,163,978

4 years of population growth and Romney didn’t draw what McCain did......


8 posted on 11/09/2012 7:56:31 AM PST by gandalftb
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: mbarker12474

“Topple the MSM, and this might change.”

Agree that the MSM needs to go down, but the effort needs to be rooted more deeply. We need to work at the local level, schools, city/county politics, etc.


9 posted on 11/09/2012 7:59:37 AM PST by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: mbarker12474

Agree.

However, the problem is much broader than the MSM.

The Left presently dominates the culture. The government of any society is primarily a reflection of its culture, as the Founders recognized. That’s why the American Revolution succeeded where most revolutions have failed in achieving their stated goals. Our Revolution did not attempt to change the society in any drastic way, only to build a government that reflected that society.

We have allowed our society to change in a bunch of ways that the Founders would have considered drastically negative. They would have been the first to concede that the government they devised is no longer appropriate for us.

If we cannot somehow devise a way to retake our society and our culture, I think we will just have to recognize that we need a new system of government.

Ours was devised as a minimalist system that would only do certain things. To keep it from exceeding those boundaries, it was designed with multiple checks and balances. But such a system is wildly inappropriate for a society that wants its government to “run the country.”

As the government attempts to do what people want, it encourages “work-arounds” of the Constitution. As we have all seen, the Constitution and its limitations are largely ignored when they conflict with the desires of the people. This encourages disrespect for the Constitution.

I suggest two possible solutions.

First, and greatly to be preferred, somehow retake our culture. I greatly fear this will not happen. Shifting a culture is a decades-long endeavor, and conservatives basically abandoned this field of battle 50 years ago. We are now seeing the consequences of unopposed leftist control of the culture-creating fields.

Second, recognize that our original system no longer works, and that it is better to salvage what we can than continuing to pretend that the Constitution, as originally devised, is functional any longer.

If there is any principle that is at the basis of conservatism, properly understood, it is the recognition of reality. The world is what it is, not what we want it to be, and true conservatives will do the best they can to preserve the best of the past, not lose it all by pretending they can save it all.

IMO


10 posted on 11/09/2012 8:01:49 AM PST by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: KrisKrinkle

For the most part the people buying the guns are those who oppose the present direction. But it appears a lot of them didn’t turn out to vote this week.


11 posted on 11/09/2012 8:03:25 AM PST by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

Out of this there will probably finally be that 3rd party that everyone talks about, creating something akin to the Brits.

But I would predict it would go a bit differently in that the Democrats would be Labour...except be the farthest left. The GOP will move Left, more like how the Tories are called “conservative” but are more like Democrats in the USA, and the 3rd party will be some version of a Southern/Tea Party/Conservative party, which might wind up mimicing the role of the Liberal party in the UK...which took a long time to get rolling, but reached a point where they are a player with Clegg.

Of course, that is just prediction and it is down the road. It will take an unforeseen series of events to kick it in motion, but if the GOP moves Left, the religious, conservative South will hit a flashpoint somewhere...just hard to predict what it will be.

The odd thing is, it will be portrayed as racism, even though Southern Black Christians...though they vote democrat, aren’t really on board with your San Francisco style Liberals either.

Going to be a strange time if something happens to re-order the parties.


12 posted on 11/09/2012 9:05:16 AM PST by Crimson Elephant
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson