Just after dedicating his work "To the socialists of all parties", Hayek opens The Road to Serfdom with:
"When the course of civilization takes an unexpected turn – when, instead of the continuous progress which we have come to expect , we find ourselves threatened by evils associated by us with past ages of barbarism – we naturally blame anything but ourselves."
‘We are ready to accept almost any explanation of the present crisis of our civilization except one: that the present state of the world may be the result of genuine error on our own part and that the pursuit of some of our most cherished ideals has apparently produced results utterly different from those which we expected." [emphasis added]
Substitute "ruling class" for "socialists" in that dedication to properly account for our current domestic variant of the central planner and Hayek’s masterpiece then explains perfectly why Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit.com) appears to have shortened the last eight words of the quote above to a sarcastic "unexpectedly" and used it about seven thousand times in the last three and a half years in reference to what this administration has produced. Clearly, the lineage of our misguided progressive "ruling class" predates Mr. Obama by more than a century and many of them over the years, not just the household names…Pelosi and Reid, just to call out a few current examples…constitute a very long, disgraceful list of small-"m" mistakes (in reference to my title) that various subsets of American voters have imposed on us to great, erosive detriment. However, today the focus is on The Great Mistake and the hope that the 2012 national electorate is willing to face and correct their 2008 error.
Underestimating the Consequences
While I (thankfully) cannot take any part of the actual blame that rests on the shoulders of that fifty-two percent from 2008, I will cut some of them a bit a slack. It seems that four and a half years ago this then Fred-head greatly underestimated the downside to four years of a truly bad president:
"There seems to be a prevailing piece of conventional wisdom that holding the White House from 2009 to 2013 is vital to the future of the Republican Party and the country as a whole. Given the events of the last seven years, a very strong case can be made for that position. However, taking the ‘vital’ part of that too literally is more than a bit vain given the great events and great individuals that have created and shaped this nation over the last 231 years.
I do believe that the country would be in much better shape in January of 2013 with any Republican taking the [reins] from Mr. Bush next year. However, would the party and the country be better off over the following couple of decades if just ‘any’ Republican filled that slot? I think the answer is NO and in my opinion a President McCain would be the perfect example of that.
My historical standard for this is none other than President Carter. His term in office shows that this great nation CAN survive four years of a truly bad executive and Commander in Chief…even in wartime. (Some here may not have learned that bit of ancient history but the Cold War of the late seventies was probably just as critical…and dangerous…a time in world affairs as today’s War on Terror.)
My position on Mr. McCain is that he would be a poor one term President. This would be accompanied by congressional losses at the mid-term and probably again in 2012 when a Democrat would most likely be swept into office. This unfortunate turn of events would leave the conservative movement…in whatever form is still exists in 2012…in a very weak, defensive position for the better part of the following generation. This would be very bad for the country and that’s not how I wish to leave it to my children." (1)
While I still stand by my assessment of a "President McCain" it is clear today that the word "vital" was discounted too much. Time will tell if we have really survived the structural-bureaucratic disaster of "Obama-Reid-Pelosi" but this time it is vital to win the big office…with long coattails.
Community Organizer Refuted
Thankfully, by this point in that last presidential election cycle I had swallowed my pride and voted for McCain-PALIN. I was also thoroughly disgusted with the direction we were obviously heading. This final weekend of the 2008 campaign treated us to a preview of the narcissistic trip we were choosing to board…all while most voters remained willfully ignorant of the Democrat candidate’s past and his public record with respect to not supporting the "Born Alive Infants Protection Act". At that point I ranted:
"Whether this was an act based on pure conviction or nothing but a cold, calculated political maneuver, I can only conclude that it points to some very dark places in his heart.
As for me, I am embarrassed for the people of Illinois for electing this man to high office. I am embarrassed for the Democrat party for nominating him for the highest office and for the American press for providing the cover needed to secure that position. And finally, I’m truly depressed with the irresponsible direction it seems the people of this country are choosing to head." (2)
And to this day it is a national embarrassment that more of us don’t know about or even care to fully comprehend this complete moral bankruptcy that is willing to allow a weak, beaten, fragile…yet, living, breathing…newborn human being to cruelly expire with "No doctor. No expert medical staff. No loving mother or father. Hell, probably not even the caring warmth of an incubator lamp. Just the cold cruel world of a somewhat sterile tabletop…maybe even shoved away in a closet…while life slowly drains away."
All semantic games and denials aside, is it so hard to predict what such a position on LIFE will lead to once such people have their hands on the control levers of the various health care boards and committees? No, "Death Panels" is probably just political hyperbole.
Failure: The Sum of His Grievances
Several times over the last three-plus years I have touched on a common theme about our current President: "I do think history will not be kind. Given the shortage of notable Presidential speeches, the words of others will fill the void. I suspect the smart people have already got a jump on preparing those texts." With that, I give you just over 200 words of linguistic gold from Dave Carter over at Ricochet.com:
"And so it is that a man of talent and intellect, who overcame the obstacles in his life to reach the pinnacle of political leadership, chose not to celebrate and inspire the nation that made his meteoric rise possible, but chose instead to grind his axe upon the citizenry and deliver the nation its comeuppance. Our country is in decline and its divisions have deepened while the mistrust of fellow citizens grows daily. Instead of encouraging excellence and achievement, the president's policies encourage resentment and dependence, pitting one group against another. … With the Mideast in flames, American embassies under siege, and an American ambassador and his staff murdered in a terrorist attack, Barack Obama manages to garner the endorsements of Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Vladimir Putin, who know a bargain when they see it. Why exert the effort to take the United States down when an American president so enthusiastically does the work for them?
It is an awful drama when one becomes the sum of his grievances, but it is made more awful still when the drama unfolds at our expense. It's time to politely show the President the exit and allow him the time and space to work out these issues in private." [emphasis added] (3)
From Oprah’s stage-side tears to complete public exposure as "not only intellectually, but also morally unfit to hold the office of President" (4) …all at our expense? Yes, but also by our own hand.
Empty Chair Exposed
No, not Clint Eastwood…Ann Althouse:
"Then came Benghazi, and a door closed." (5)
So, again, today is all about The Great Mistake and hope that the historic soul of Americanism…that seemed to acknowledged the error more than two years ago…stands poised to correct that misstep through proper constitutional means in the coming days. As I sit here today, I have hope that it’s not too late…that another Obama term is not already baked into the redistributional-electoral cake…but I mourn that it will even be close. The fact that a civilization is free to see the economic reality all around and a near voting majority can eat up (or at least ignore) the blatant class warfare demagoguery to support this sophomoric intellectual lightweight (or, would "fraud" be out of line?) means that even a Romney win with some coattails next week leaves us poorly positioned for the historically probable 2014 mid-term fall-back. This soul - the great army of Americans recently energized by Pelosi-ism that includes the vocal Tea Party-types but also the many, many quiet, hard working, just-plain-tired-of-the-condescending-arrogance-of-the-ruling-class people that don’t show up in polling and can’t be broad brushed by juvenile ("Teabagger?") media-types - needs to prove more massive and powerful than anyone expects…landslide…complete repudiation…mandate!
Now that last word is important. I feel Mr. Romney has run a campaign properly poised to govern effectively with a mandate but, alas, my capacity for that much hope…a "landslide?"…falls a bit short.
So, I’ll take what I can get and President Romney is a good first step. Hayek may agree:
"The important thing now is that we shall come to agree on certain principles and free ourselves from some of the errors which have governed us in the recent past. However distasteful such an admission may be, we must recognize that we [have]…reached a stage where it is more important to clear away the obstacles with which human folly has encumbered our path and to release the creative energy of individuals than to devise further machinery for ‘guiding’ and ‘directing’ them – to create conditions favorable to progress rather than to ‘plan progress’. The first need is to free ourselves from the…obscurantism which tries to persuade us that what we have done…was all either wise or inevitable. We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish." [emphasis added] (6)
Proud Redstate Member since April 2006…?
(6) From the "Conclusion" chapter of The Road to Serfdom, Hayek.