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Two terms that have been tossed about carelessly since progressives took control of all three branches of government nearly two years ago are extremism and the American Dream. Is there a connection between the two?
Let’s first take a look at the word extremism, which has become the dagger of choice for Democrats who are frantically thrashing about for a way to keep the reins of power from slipping out of their grasp. After more than a hundred years of moving America toward socialism, progressives now take the position that unconstitutional legislation they have passed over the last century is the norm and it is therefore extreme to oppose it.
And, unfortunately, they’re right. Remember, communism was the norm in the Soviet Union for 70 years. So when Mikhail Gorbachev implemented perestroika (restructuring of that country’s political and economic system) and glasnost (openness, particularly in the media), these measures were viewed by the Communist Party establishment as extreme.
But one man’s extremist is another man’s liberator. No one ever put it better than Barry Goldwater when he said, in his acceptance speech as the 1964 Republican presidential candidate, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”
I remember how horrified many people were by Goldwater’s words. In fact, he was considered an extremist by a majority of voters. Which amazed me, because I couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly believe that being extreme on the subjects of liberty and justice was not a good thing.
But Goldwater was a courageous man who didn’t back down from his beliefs. Unfortunately, however, he was a half-century ahead of his time. In his 1960 book “The Conscience of a Conservative,” he was right in synch with today’s tea-party movement:
I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.
All those Republicans who are dodging and twisting and turning to avoid questions about such issues as privatizing Social Security, doing away with the minimum wage and total repeal of Obamacare should read and reread Goldwater’s words. If they want a modern-day example, they need only follow the lead of Ron Paul, who looks at all legislation from two aspects: 1) is it constitutional, and 2) can we afford it? And in the vast majority of cases, the answer to both questions is no.
Because we live in a country moving rapidly from soft socialism to hard socialism, advocating a laissez-faire capitalistic society is considered extreme. But the fact is that a totally free market is both constitutional and moral. By contrast, all redistribution-of-wealth programs are both unconstitutional and immoral, yet to propose repealing them is considered to be extreme.
Which brings me to the second term I mentioned at the outset of this column – the American Dream. Remarkably, everyone agrees that the American Dream is a good thing, but that’s only because it is constantly being reinvented to suit the needs of a variety of groups with conflicting objectives.
For example, at the “One Nation Working Together” rally in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 2, one sign read: “The American Dream promises a free education.” While no one can stop you from making such a proclamation, the hard fact is that the original (i.e., genuine) American Dream didn’t promise anything free. In fact, it promised the exact opposite: freedom.
The reason free and freedom are opposites is because any fool knows that nothing in life is free. The only way government can give people “free” anything is to violate the freedom of those who pay for it. Yet, it is considered by many media pundits and politicians to be extreme if someone suggests something like privatizing Social Security.
Thus, the Founding Fathers, by today’s standards, would be considered extremists. And they were! They were extreme when it came to human freedom. As I point out in my book “Restoring the American Dream,” the fundamental concept of our Founding Fathers was that people have a natural right to sovereignty over their own lives and that governments have no right to interfere with that sovereignty.
In that respect, the Declaration of Independence, as a document, was unique in human history. For the first time, men were saying that they were above government, that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The American Dream that our parents and grandparents knew was about people, not government. It was about people declaring they were above government – that politicians are the employees of those who vote them into office, and not the other way around. In simple terms, the American Dream was about liberty – specifically, that liberty must be given a higher priority than all other objectives, no matter how worthy some people may believe those objectives to be.
The next time you hear someone customizing the American Dream to suit his redistributionist agenda, ask him to show you one provision in the Constitution that provides for the government to fulfill the needs and desires of individual citizens. He can’t.
But, in his frustration and anger, be prepared for him to call you an extremist. Then simply agree with him and thank him for the compliment.