"Will America Break Up?"
By Jeffrey T. Kuhner
Washington Times Opinion
President Obama is splintering America. The passage of Obamacare was a historic victory for liberal governance. Yet, its true cost may be that it triggers the eventual breakup of the country.
Mr. Obama has achieved what his liberal predecessors - Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton - could only dream of: nationalized health care. Obamacare signifies the government take-over of one-sixth of the U.S. economy. It has dealt a mortal blow to traditional America. We are now a European-style socialist welfare state. The inevitable permanent tax hikes, massive public bureaucracy and liberal ruling elites will stifle competition and initiative.
Republicans vow to repeal Obamacare. Their past record, however, leaves many conservatives rightly skeptical. Since FDR's New Deal, Big-Government liberalism has been on the march - Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Education. The Republican Party has been unable to roll back the tide of statism. In fact, under Richard Nixon and both George Bushes, Great Society Republicans have been complicit in erecting a nanny state.
Socialism is the road to economic ruin and fiscal bankruptcy. It subverts democracy, threatening the very future of our constitutional republic. Socialist states degenerate into some form of autocracy or technocratic neo-feudalism, whereby the productive class is taxed and exploited to sustain a growing dependent class. Factions are pitted against each other; groups vie for handouts at the expense of their fellow citizens. The bonds of economic union and national solidarity slowly dissolve.
"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not," warned Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson was right: Redistributionist welfare policies are undermining our democracy. The resentments in America are growing. Tea Partiers believe that their government no longer represents their interests or values. The heartland is becoming dangerously alienated from the political class, whom it feels has betrayed them.
Obamacare may be the last straw. It strips away fundamental economic liberties, empowering the federal government to de facto nationalize everyone's body by controlling our health. Americans are compelled - upon pain of penalty and eventual imprisonment - to purchase insurance.
Moreover, the law codifies the federal funding of abortion. Taxpayer dollars will be used to subsidize the murder of innocent life. Hence, Mr. Obama has violated the social compact: He has abrogated the conscience of pro-lifers, making them tacitly complicit in the slaughter of the unborn. Obamacare is a radical assault upon fundamental religious freedoms.
The Obama revolution threatens to tear America apart. This has happened before. Slavery eventually triggered the Civil War between the industrial North and the agrarian South. Abortion is the slavery of our time - the denying of basic human rights to an entire category of people.
The bitter debate over Obamacare has exposed the country's profound divisions. We are no longer one nation or one people. Rather, there are now two Americas: one conservative, the other liberal. Increasingly, we no longer just disagree but we despise each other.
Our disagreements encompass everything - politics, morality, culture and history. We no longer share a unifying essence or common values. One half of America believes abortion is an abomination; the other half considers any attempt to repeal it as oppressive and sexist. One half opposes homosexual unions because it elevates immoral and unnatural behavior to the sacred status of marriage; the other half supports it as an extension of civil rights. One half reviles Mr. Obama's socialist agenda, viewing it as the destruction of capitalism and our constitutional government; the other half embraces it as the culmination of social justice and economic equality. One half reveres America's heroes - Christopher Columbus, George Washington, James Madison, Davy Crockett - and its glorious history; the other half is ashamed of its past, seeing it as characterized by racism, imperialism and chauvinism.
Ultimately, a country is not simply its geographical borders with the people inside of it. It is something more - and deeper. A nation must share a common heritage, language, culture, faith and myths. Once upon a time, Americans celebrated the same heroes, sang the same patriotic songs, read the same history and literature, and gloried in its exceptional nature: a city upon a hill, with liberty and freedom for all. It was understood that, for all of our different ethnic and religious backgrounds, America is a product of English and Christian civilization. Those days are long gone.
Instead, we are going the way our Founding Fathers warned us against: increasing balkanization and sectionalism. A constitutional republic - unlike an empire - is only as strong as its national cohesion. It is based not on imperial coercion but civic consent. Mr. Obama is recklessly pulling at the strings of unity, further polarizing us.
In confronting Obamacare, state sovereignty, states' rights and state nullification of federal laws are being asserted. This is what happened in the 1830s and 1840s. They are the signs of growing political anarchy and social frustration - people can only be pushed so far. Mr. Obama's drive for a socialist super-state threatens America's very existence. As Jefferson warned about slavery, it is time we start ringing the "fire bell in the night."
"Things fall apart; the center cannot hold," wrote William Butler Yeats. "Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."
Conservatives will not be passive in this onslaught on all our core values. Mr. Obama's true legacy may be that he divides us deeper than ever before - unless
he abandons his revolutionary project.
Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and president of the Edmund Burke Institute, a Washington think tank. He is the daily host of the "Kuhner Show" on WTNT 570-AM (www.talk570.com) from noon until 3 p.m.
This analysis is simplistic, but contains much truth. Kuhner's fundamental error is to see this as a "conservative" versus "liberal" divide, without taking into consideration the libertarian critique of both. Yet wars are fought by coalitions and in the end it will the libertarians and conservatives against the left-collectivists (and the right-collectivists, the racists and the tribalists, if they get in the way, which they will). This is because the onslaught of the left-collectivist revolution against the Founders' Republic immediately threatens the fundamental beliefs -- and lives and liberties -- of both "conservatives" and libertarians.
After the left-collectivist revolution is turned back and the Restoration accomplished, the competing visions will have to be reconciled. What I would like to see is the libertarians give up their insistence upon abortion and concede the conservatives' point about the sanctity of life. For their part, the social conservatives should admit the libertarians' point about the lesser vices not being the business of the state. Surely both sides can agree on "free men and free markets" -- about the rule of law, limited government, ordered liberty and property rights.
The libertarians may despise the biometric ID insisted upon in the upcoming Amnesty bill as a direct threat to individual liberty, while some religious conservatives will reject it primarily as a "mark of the beast." Surely it matters not why this hateful, tyrannical tool is rejected, as long as it IS rejected.
The "conservatives" will discover in this conflict that it is the libertarians who will lead the way, for their analysis is less clouded by a false sense that traditional politics will avail them. They will see the essential thing sooner, and act on it. On the other hand, the libertarians will discover that Leviathan cannot be turned back by small measures and that they must have the far larger numbers of the social conservatives fighting with them to accomplish it.
Surely the important question that each can agree on is the eternal one, the Founders' question -- which is to be the master? The government? Or the people?
It is my hope that having waded together through blood and fire to roll back the greater threat to each, they will come to realize that neither can be free, or stay free, without the other.
That is my hope, though I do not expect to live to see it.