Wednesday, November 20, 2013

America's Next President Must Restore Freedom

It was easier for Arthur Fonzarelli to say he was “wrong” than it has been for many to admit that President Obama “lied” when he repeatedly stated his eponymous health care law would allow people to keep their insurance, or their doctors, if they so wished.

Of course the president lied. Politicians lie. And birds go tweet. If some of those placard-hoisters who spent eight years accusing George W. Bush of lying on a military-industrial scale could summon the same clarity of language now, we could dispense with this semantic silly-bears and move on to more important matters; namely, the continued dismantling of personal liberty in America, of which Obamacare is just a recent and conspicuous example.

The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare’s individual mandate, calling its sanction a “tax.” Finding this appellation politically inconvenient, the White House and an obliging media continue to refer to it as a “penalty” (thereby contravening the very Supreme Court they point to for validation of their favored law – discuss).

Abortion advocates have insisted for two generations that politicians should not come between a woman and her doctor. Today, thanks to Obamacare, you’ve got the IRS poking around in there. Happy now?

The point is, even in making the most personal of life choices, you must do as the government deems best, or you will be punished. While Obama’s mendacity should be as shocking as the discovery of gambling in Rick’s Café, the paternalism this represents is true cause for alarm.

Modern America is a land in which most everything is mandatory or forbidden. Columnist Mark Steyn often notes that the essence of such tyranny is not iron-fistedness but caprice. No one can know when or how the rules will be enforced, or even what they are. But rest assured, whatever you wish to do in pursuit of your American Dream, there is a law to demand or prevent it.

Laws run thousands of pages; and their attendant rules, tens of thousands. The authoritarian convention affects everything from health care, to education, to taxes, to just getting around.

Entering the United States, or even traveling within it, requires interaction with an ever-growing army of “security” personnel, whether actual law enforcement or not (who can tell, nowadays?), who imagine every border crossing, railway platform and airport gate to be Checkpoint Charlie. Hopped up on a noxious cocktail of Red Bull and self-regard, utterly convinced of the institutional rhubarb that they “put their lives on the line each and every day” to keep people “safe,” these costumed paragons of self-parody are the most conspicuous sign that liberty has been banished from the Land of the Free.

Islamist terrorists will continue to wish harm upon the American citizenry, but so long as it is easier to corral the latter group as a pretense to combating the former, this conduct will continue, and worsen.

This is not merely a function of laws and mandates; it is also a mindset. If America’s is truly a government of, by, and for the people, a president is a reflection of the nation’s condition. The fact that America elected a person like Barack Obama, twice, says more about the country’s civic bankruptcy than it does about him.

The question becomes, then, are the American people ready to reconsider the nature of government to which they give their consent?

Many are still forming an opinion on men like Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, but they bear mentioning because, among the oft-discussed presidential candidates for 2016, these are the only ones from whom you’ll hear a peep about abolishing the ubiquitous IRS or the odious Department of Homeland Security, or shuttering the Eye of Sauron known as the NSA.

Yes, every Republican contender will find new and exciting ways to tell you how he’ll disembowel Obamacare, such that they sound like ranting professional wrestlers (or perhaps Rob Ford). But how do they feel about government collection of private communications, or the IRS demanding taxes from Americans who do not live in America, or a prosecution system so aggressive the United States, with barely 5 percent of the world’s population, holds 25 percent of the prisoners on the planet?

If they object, they do not say. And if they cannot perceive the momentous threat to liberty in the land, they have no claim to be called Leader of the Free World.

In 1920, Warren G. Harding ran to replace Woodrow Wilson, America’s original progressive president who, like Obama, considered the Constitution an inconvenient anachronism and believed the will of the people subordinate to the wisdom of bureaucrats. Harding’s winning slogan was, “A Return to Normalcy.”

To win the White House in 2016, America’s next president should offer a Return to Freedom.

Theo Caldwell is the author of Finn the half-Great.  Contact him at