We are not in the situation of the Ukraine, however that turns out, but the events in that Eastern European country should remind us all of the sad condition of our nation, how much we now need an American Spring in the USA.
Not a Spring like the Arab Spring, of course, which was and is a nightmare beyond anyone’s wishes, but something more like the original Prague Spring that remade the Czech Republic into the vibrant country and society it is today.
The Obama administration has been the culmination of the advancement of state intrusion into our lives that began roughly a hundred years ago and has reached such a point that the originality and the intentions of our country are barely recognizable. The results of this have been disastrous both economically and socially, most of all in terms of the personal freedom and liberty of our citizens. We have gone backwards in many ways, not the least of which is that race relations have deteriorated during the administration of the first African-American president, largely due to state meddling. We are divided as we have never been since the Civil War, and for really no good reason.
The people aren’t the problem. It’s the state.
And in a still-growing country of over 300 million the state gets bigger and bigger and bigger just by entropy, until we are all engulfed.
We need some government, obviously, but at this point in American history, in order to save our nation, we need to get the state as much as possible out of our lives, to cut its functions with a meat cleaver to release our better impulses, to have the renewal of Spring. Deep down even some modern liberals realize this. (Bill Clinton famously said the era of big government is over before running the other way as if in fear of his own honesty.)
In this coming crucial year, those of us who feel the overweening state is the problem must reach out our hands to our fellow citizens as never before. My sense is that many of them are ready to hear our message. (The fiasco of Obamacare has been a gift in that regard.) And if we don’t reach out our hands, there will be no American Spring. Things will only get worse. (The horrific attempt of the FCC to monitor newsrooms is a harbinger of totalitarian things to come.)
I am one of those eternal optimists who think we are on the brink of this American Spring. Another, whether he knows it or not, is ironically Joe Trippi, once the campaign manager for Howard Dean, a statist of the first order. (See Trippi’s interview with Reason magazine in which he foresees a libertarian-oriented president in the near future.) Possible allies can be found in more quarters than we know.
But in order to achieve this American Spring, those who favor a diminished state must exercise discipline and kindness as never before. They should avoid internal rectification campaigns (shooting their own, looking for ideological perfection that doesn’t exist). We are not communists. That’s what they do.
Those already convinced of our cause — small-government conservatives, Tea Partiers, libertarians — should put aside their squabbles for now, join together and seek to be as inclusive as possible. Ideological purity, indeed ideological terminology itself, is inherently exclusionary and often obfuscating. Gloating of any sort is also counter-productive, possibly terminally. Instead, we must patiently explain, even to our most intractable adversaries, why our proposals for limited government are for their benefit as well as our own. We must do this in the face of a troglodytic and reactionary media and entrenched bureaucracies and interest groups from over a century of statism. We cannot stop or give up.
And we must always point out that what people were and are fighting for on the streets of the Ukraine and Venezuela is human freedom. They are not fighting for more government programs. It’s even farcical to think so.