Forget Ron Paul, or even his son Rand, by far the greatest booster of libertarianism in America today is unquestionably Barack Obama. With the astonishing ineptitude of his all-pervasive statism, the president is manufacturing libertarians everywhere he goes.
And it’s not just the massive Obamacare boondoggle, although that’s the worst and most public example at the moment. Every aspect of the administration from the extraordinary (and growing) deficits to the clueless foreign policy is an advertisement for the overweening incompetence of big government.
As Bill Clinton told us in his 1996 SOTU, “The era of big government is over.” It just took us another seventeen years — with five of them under this metastasizing bureaucratic monstrosity of Mr. Obama — to get there.
In fact, this government is metastasizing so rapidly that the same Mr. Obama almost never knows what it’s doing — or so he says. He only reads about it, we are told, in the papers, as we do. (Since I suspect he avoids the Drudge Report and Instapundit, he may even be behind some of us.)
Meanwhile, the man who considers himself King of Fairness has fostered a society unprecedented in its unfairness and stratification, at least in recent memory. The very people he is supposed to help suffer most of all.
So we are told, especially if we watch John Stossel’s show, that the times are changing and we are entering the era of libertarianism. That’s fine by me, because much about libertarianism attracts me. But before we all become a culture of wild and crazy Hayekians, we should pay close attention, because just like almost everything in life, libertarianism isn’t perfect. It’s an ideology that when tested in the real world may not be the answer to everything. (Just who is going to fix those potholes on the Ventura Freeway?)
But if small government is coming, if Barack Obama has inadvertently succeeded in turning America libertarian or at least quasi-libertarian, what is needed now, and soon, is some sense of what that really means practically. What in government is worth preserving?
We don’t hear a lot of discussion of that. And looking toward the coming election we should because it is a tremendous opportunity not only to seem forward thinking, but actually be forward thinking. The problem with the word conservative is that it appears to be facing backwards when, in reality, Obama’s leftist ideology is much more an artifact of the past. Conservative or libertarian or something in between, we need to recapture the future.