In his latest Chicago Sun-Times column, Mark Steyn views the transformation of Congressional Republicans from their 1994 Contract With America days of holding government accountable to their aloof, elite worldview. Or as Steyn puts it: “Gingrich revolutionaries turn into arrogant elite“:
Of all the many marvelous Ronald Reagan lines, this is my favorite: ”We are a nation that has a government — not the other way around.”
He said it in his inaugural address in 1981, and, despite a Democrat-controlled Congress, he lived it. It sums up his legacy abroad: Across post-Communist Europe, from Lithuania to Bulgaria to Slovenia, governments that had nations have been replaced by nations that have governments.
But it’s an important distinction for non-totalitarian states, too. For example, in May 2004 the then-Canadian government proudly announced that in the last month the country had “created” 56,100 new jobs. That’s terrific news, isn’t it? The old economic engine positively roaring away in top gear. But on closer inspection, of those 56,100 new jobs, 4,200 were self-employed, 8,900 were in private businesses, and the remaining 43,000 were on the public payroll. That’s why they call it “creating jobs”: 77 percent of new jobs were government jobs, paid for by the poor schlubs working away in the remaining 23 percent; the “good news” was merely an acceleration of the remorseless transfer from the dynamic sector of the economy to the non-dynamic. For too much of its recent history, Canada has been a government that has a nation. And across the pond the European Union is a government that has a continent.
As Steyn says, the self-imposed rulers of “Incumbistan” are a “government that has a nation”.