Let me show you what happens when you don’t teach civics in high school:
[UPDATE: I don’t know why this H/T didn’t take, but the video’s from RevealingPolitics] For those without video, it shows various Democratic convention attendees’ reactions to the DNC’s infamous statement “The government is the only thing that we all belong to.” As you might suspect (or even fear), the attendees featured largely showed support for a political philosophy that wishes to essentially beat to death one of the basic operating principles of the American Republic, then urinate on its corpse.
Yes. It’s going to be one of those essays.
But let’s go back to being couth, for a moment: Mitt Romney’s reaction to the ‘belonging to government’ position is worth looking at.
We don’t belong to government, the government belongs to us.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) September 4, 2012
Mostly because he’s got that entirely correct. You see, this is the fundamental difference between the two parties, and it’s a difference that’s been increasing throughout the course of my lifetime: the Republican party defaults to thinking of the federal government as a necessary evil. It is sometimes a highly useful necessary evil, particularly when we’re dealing with things that can be best handle via economy of scale – but it is a tool. It is a tool that we use and care for, yes… but when you’re done with a tool, you put it away until the next time that you need it. The Democratic party, on the other hand? At best, it’s a toy – and I use that word fully aware that I’m implying that the people who think in those terms are immature, largely because I was implying that, and they are. But that’s at best. At worst, the State is… an idol, frankly. It’s something more than themselves, to them. It’s something that they can slot and subsume themselves into. That is a fundamental difference.
And that difference affects everything. More to the point, the Democratic position is anathema to the fundamental operating principle of the American Republic, which was and is You can’t trust any of these so-and-sos as far as you can throw them. There’s a reason why the Constitution is stuffed full of checks, balances, restrictions, and impediments to legislation; it’s because it was written by a bunch of very smart, slightly paranoid (but highly functional about it) lawyers who had spent half a decade being shot at simply because they thought that local problems could be better dealt with locally. It was clear to the Founding Fathers that something more unifying than the Articles of Confederation was necessary… but they also feared absolute monarchy, which is where all State-worship eventually leads. That’s why they gave us a civic foundation that defaults to the position of When in doubt: no, the government can’t do that. Leave it to the citizenry.
Now, I understand that being a citizen – which is to say, a free man or woman who accepts the responsibility in self-sovereignty – is hard. I also understand that many, many people out there are happy to be subjects of a king, whether that king be tangible or intangible. I even understand that you can make an argument that a subject is better off than a citizen. That’s fine. But that’s not American. And if you think that I’m being rude by saying that, you’ll be infuriated with Samuel Adams:
From the day on which an accommodation takes place between England and America, on any other terms than as independent States, I shall date the ruin of this country. a politic minister will study to lull us into security by granting us the full extent of our petitions. The warm sunshine of influence would melt down the virtue which the violence of the storm rendered more firm and unyielding. In a state of tranquility, wealth, and luxury, our descendants would forget the arts of war and the noble activity and zeal which made their ancestors invincible. Every art of corruption would be employed to loosen the bond of union which renders our resistance formidable. When the spirit of liberty, which now animates our hearts and gives success to our arms, is extinct, our numbers will accelerate our ruin and render us easier victims to tyranny. Ye abandoned minions of an infatuated ministry, if peradventure any should yet remain among us, remember that a Warren and Montgomery are numbered among the dead. Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, What should be the reward of such sacrifices? Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plow, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth? If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom–go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: I am happy to agree that this is a matter of “semantics.” Largely because the basic issue here is indeed over the meaning of words, and how the modern Democratic party is in fact demonstrating that they’re busily redefining themselves far out of the mainstream of American political thought.