The Rebuke of Sam Slick

In an acutely reasoned article for American Thinker, economist and member of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute Monty Pelerin warns that the United States is “one election away from tragedy.” Pelerin is not alone in mounting this argument; many commentators and political analysts are in agreement that November 6, 2012, may be one of the most fateful dates in the entire pageant of American history, no less crucial than another resonant date, April 12, 1861, when Abraham Lincoln responded to the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter.  For there is a growing—though perhaps insufficient—consensus on the part of a notable segment of the American public, Republican candidates for office, and a number of disaffected Democrats that the coming election is essentially a plebiscite and that the future security, coherence, and prosperity of the nation will be decided on the first Tuesday of November of this year. “There are but a few weeks left,” writes Andrew McCarthy in a review of David Limbaugh’s The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama’s War on the Republic, “before the nation either dramatically alters course or cruises on to the abyss, perhaps irreversibly.”

A victory for Mitt Romney would allow the nation to return, if only partially, to its historical roots as a constitutional republic and free market economy. But if Barack Obama should win re-election, America will inexorably go the way of the crushingly indebted, under-employed, imploding European Union, as well as gradually surrendering much of its autonomy to an advancing Islamic presence and the inroads of Shari’a law. It would continue to rely on the dubious expedient of soft power and international diplomacy (aka, accommodation and concession) to defend its interests, thus subsiding into political desuetude. A second term for this president will yield a nation drowning in debt, undergoing a rapidly declining material equity, and increasingly vulnerable to Islamic subversion.

To cite Roger Kimball’s objective recapitulation, this is the president who is defined by “the $16 trillion federal debt, the 8.3 percent unemployment when he promised to have it down to 5.6 percent, the annual deficit, which he promised to halve, hovering around $1.5 trillion,” as well as “the disaster that is Obama’s Islamophilic Mideast policy—our consulate overrun in Benghazi, our ambassador murdered, Obama is told 90 minutes into the assault, he goes to bed….” One might also mention Obama’s empowering of the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the hospitality extended to Islamic organizations and individuals at home.

And yet, despite Kimball’s conviction that Romney will win the election by a landslide, the candidates are currently neck and neck and there is every possibility that Obama will emerge triumphant on November 6. How could such a colossal absurdity be even conceivable? A little cold reflection on Obama’s various constituencies suffices to show where his electoral chances lie, irrespective of his patently catastrophic tenure. Obama profits from the loyalty and commitment of seven categories of devout adherents.

1. A large dependency class, as Romney justly pointed out, constituting 47 percent of an electorate that does not pay taxes and in too many cases lives parasitically off government largesse. Which is to say, it enjoys the redistributed benefits culled from the salaries, savings, and investments of the productive class. Although many in this group would surely have it otherwise and would much prefer to find decent, remunerative employment, one cannot expect a vast cohort of the beholden to vote for a free market exponent like Romney who champions the ethos of individual initiative and self-determination. Moreover, this class of dependents is as likely to grow as to shrink. Economist Milton Friedman has cogently posited a 50 percent-plus entitlement red line that signals the point of no return to normative democracy.

2. The so-called intellectual and celebrity elite: left-wing academics and the students they have successfully indoctrinated, public intellectuals with an ingrained hatred of their own country, Hollywood’s beautiful emptyheads, and almost the entire media empire that has made common cause with the Democratic Party and invested its ideological stock in the president’s plainly neosocialist agenda.

3. The plutocratic left whose obscene money machine, as David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin have meticulously documented in The New Leviathan, funds Obama’s electoral campaign via every avenue of public suasion available.

4. A union thugocracy using every means at its disposal, from financial contributions to overt coercion, to ensure the re-election of their candidate.

5. The swelling roles of government employees, all of whom are sure to cast their ballots with a view to preserving their featherbedding billets.

6. That portion of the educated populace whose trendy, reflex liberalism flies in the face of political and economic reality, namely, that wealth must be continuously created, that untrammelled entrepreneurship is vital to an expanding economy and social stability, that socialized medicine is a bottomless sinkhole producing more rather than less suffering, that “social justice” is merely a slogan behind which oligarchs and bureaucrats enrich themselves and the well-off hypocritically salve their consciences.

7. Not to mince words and recognizing the dumbing down of American education—the dysfunctional public schools and the university propaganda factories—the alarming number of the miseducated and the flatly illiterate who have no understanding of economics, are devoid of historical knowledge and blissfully indifferent to the exigencies of realpolitik, and who are prey to the influence of urban myths and the oiled churnings of the rumor mill. They will naturally tend to succumb to the president’s meretricious charm and populist incantations or render judgment based on sheer ignorance. (Cases in point: a woman interviewed on the TV news who likes Obama because he is “straight” and who would never vote for Romney “because Mormons have many wives”; people interviewed by radio and TV host Howard Stern who did not know that Osama bin Laden was dead and who thought Paul Ryan was Obama’s running mate; the lady who believed Obama would pay for her gas and mortgage.) As Victor Davis Hanson notes, “fantasies, not realities, are what half the population may now live for.”

Add to this collection of all-too ponderables the taxonomic quirks of the Electoral College, which does not necessarily mirror the results of the popular vote or correspond to the number of a state’s congressional representatives, and from which Obama stands to gain even should the tide turn against him. For example, Obama took Pennsylvania in 2008 despite winning only a minority of congressional districts. Altogether, we have a scenario that appears to tilt in the incumbent’s favor.

Nonetheless, like Kimball, former Libertarian VP nominee Wayne Allyn Root, also a successful Vegas oddsmaker, is convinced that Romney will win in a landslide, contending that fewer Hispanic, black, Jewish, youth, and Catholic voters will support Obama this time around. The same is also true, he believes, for small business owners, blue-collar whites, suburban moms, and military veterans. One can only hope the oddsmaker’s accurate record (up to now) will remain unblemished, but the various constituencies I have outlined above would seem to present a major obstacle to his prognostications.

In sum, given the technically defined poor, the very rich, the public unions, government hires, the intellectual and celebrity carriage trade, the liberal misinformed, and the caste of the under-educated, supplemented by a skewed electoral system in which voter turnout is often trumped by party entrenchment, we may well be looking at a second term for arguably the most destructive president in all of American history—the president who has reduced America’s position in the world to a caricature of its former paramount standing and steered his countrymen, like harried bison, to the precipice of bankruptcy.

It should be obvious, then, after nearly four years of gross mismanagement, escalating debt, lack of military resolve, political frivolity, intentionally fomented internal divisiveness, and rampant juridical malfeasance, that the administration of Barack Obama has been an unqualified debacle, and that another four years of the same—or worse—may well put an end to American dominance and solvency. Given the facts of the matter, how anyone in his or her right mind could vote for Obama and his team of incompetents and malefactors to pursue what McCarthy calls “the dismantling of the American order” and lead the nation into a collapsing future defies the rudiments of common sense. For even the poor and the disadvantaged inclined to vote their freebies would find the food stamps, rebates, and entitlements on which they rely worth progressively less as prices inflate—or what amounts to the same thing, as the vaunted American dollar heads in the same deflationary direction as the Argentinian peso.

In The Flight from Truth, French political philosopher Jean-François Revel remarks that “the average human being seeks the truth only after having exhausted all other possibilities.” Obviously, his insight also applies to the average American citizen, except that, judging from the previous election, his or her credulity may be practically insurmountable and not all the possibilities may be exhausted before the boom is lowered. In this connection, I am reminded of a distinctly proleptic passage from Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s 1836 satirical collection The Clockmaker: The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick of Slicksville, a hilarious portrait of a gullible electorate, which I reproduce in full:

I allot, said Mr. Slick, that the Blue Noses are the most gullible folks on the face of the airth—rigular soft horns, that’s a fact. Politics and such stuff set ‘em a gapin, like children in a chimbly corner listenen to tales of ghosts, Salem witches, and Nova Scotia snow storms; and while they stand starin and yawpin, all eyes and mouth, they get their pockets picked of every cent that’s in ‘em. One candidate chap says, “Feller citizens, this country is goin’ to the dogs hand over hand: look at your rivers, you have no bridges; at your wild lands, you have no roads; at your treasury, you hante got a cent in it; at your markets, thing don’t fetch nothing; at your fish, the Yankees ketch ‘em all. There’s nothing behind you but sufferin, around you but poverty, afore you, but slavery and death. What’s the cause of this unheard of awful state of things, ay, what’s the cause? Why Judges, and Banks, and Lawyers, and great folks, have swallered all the money. They’ve got you down, and they’ll keep you down to all eternity, you and your posteriors arter you. Rise up like men, arouse yourselves like freemen, and elect me to the Legislatur, and I’ll lead on the small but patriotic band, I’ll put the big wigs thro’ their facins, I’ll make ‘em shake in their shoes, I’ll knock off your chains and make you free.” Well, the gooneys fall tu and elect him, and he desarts right away with balls, rifle, powder horn and all. He promised too much.

This is the charlatan, aka Barack Hussein Obama (with a soupçon of Joe Biden), who promised too much and delivered too little, but who may conceivably win the day and the Legislatur. Unless, by some miracle of destiny, a plurality of American citizens (and Electors) awakens to the bitter truth that the man they elected in 2008 to the highest office in the country is a kind of impostor or confidence man whose rhetoric stands in inverse relation to his achievements, a man who obviously does not regard the country he was entrusted to govern as in any way exceptional or lovable, whose wife is on record as saying that the U.S. is “just downright mean,” a man whose antecedents, formative influences, shrouded résumé, and mendacious biography typify him as something of a stranger to the very inheritance he claims to represent. And those who swallow his line, as Slick observes, “expect too much from others, and do too little for themselves.” Even worse, “they think they know everything, but they get gulled from years’ eend to years’ eend.”