Friday, March 30, 2007

Keep Loving That Gridlock

Tibor R. Machan

After the November 2006 elections I was hoping for this and said so in one of my columns. Sure enough, there is gridlock in the air in Washington, helping with the task of slowing down the rampage of Democrats to loot us of all our wealth so they can redistribute it to their heart’s content. Yes, going after Attorney General Gonzales has its benefits, as does the bill passed by both the House and the Senate, curtailing the war in Iraq, one President Bush is sure to veto. All this acrimony is to the good!

Let me just say that I am all for pulling out of Iraq. It’s been bad war, if any of them can be welcomed, and it is time to admit it and let go of it. America really has no business being in Iraq—there has never been any credible evidence that that country poses a serious threat to us, which is the only justification for war in a free society. (Remember, “governments are instituted” to “secure [our] rights,” not to go on military adventures around the globe!)

However, I don’t much trust the motives of Democrats, who had no trouble sending troops to Bosnia-Herzegovina and elsewhere in the Balkans when no threat existed against the U.S.A. from anyone there. Moreover, Democrats, with their modern liberal “precautionary” public policies preemptively intrude on our lives everywhere, so I don’t for a moment believe that they have anything in principle against preemptive military actions. They just don’t like Bush’s war. Were it their war, they would probably love it, at least most of them. (Remember Vietnam! Wasn’t a Republican war, that one.)

But, while they are beating up on Bush & Co. in Washington, Democrats may not be focusing so much on running our lives—on increasing regulations of financial institutions because of some unpleasant experiences certain customers are having who have extended themselves unwisely. This kind of Nanny state approach to governing is now part and parcel of the vision of the Democratic leadership, so if they are bogged down with acts of vengeance, at least their zeal to meddle may be somewhat arrested.

Of course, a gridlock is but a small consolation where the growth of government power over our lives is concerned. It can slow things down but only temporarily. If, however, during this slow-down there commences vigorous education from government skeptics—those who know that people working for government aren’t any wiser or more virtuous than are those working in the marker place—then perhaps some serious benefit can be reaped from it.

In the end nothing can substitute for such education, which ultimately translates into policies that will reduce the scope of government’s power. That, after all, is what a free country is about, limiting the range of government’s power over the lives of citizens to a strictly protective, defensive function that abates crime and foreign aggression. That is the vision of political society that animated the American Founders and still resonates with those around the world who want to live their lives by their own lights, not as slaves or involuntary servants.

A gridlock can help with this only so much but if good use is made of it, perhaps the trend can be extended and in time, with vigilance, the government’s reach can be reduced more and more significantly. For the time being, though, all those who recognize that the respect and protection of our right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness is the fundamental public good—with all the rest politicians and their cheerleaders promote mere phony projects that are none of government’s proper business—need to support the gridlock that may be with us for at least another year or so. And then, if voters wise up, they may realize that the best bet is to elect some Republican, any Republican, to fill the role of the president just so that a gridlock can continue.

Again, remember that this is just to forestall what would otherwise be routine, namely, the liberal Democratic zeal to tax and spend and regulate and mess with our lives. The real work must be done proactively—folks need to be taught that their best bet lies with a freer and freer society, with the abandonment of the redistributionist welfare state. (No, this isn’t a homogenous Scandinavian country, where, by the way, the welfare state is supported by a rather robust semi-free market economy, without the Draconian regulations we have here!)

So, once again, hurrah for the gridlock! Even if it is only temporary.

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