“If there were any way to make compromise work, (the President) is the man who could have done it. He was an expert at the game of manipulating pressure groups – a game that consists of making promises and friends, and keeping the second, but not the first. His skill as a manipulator was the one characteristic that his “public image builders” were selling us at the height of his popularity. If he cold not make it, no amateur can.
The practical efficacy of compromise is the first premise that (the President’s) history should prompt people to check. And, I believe, a great many people are checking it. People, but not Republicans – or, at least, not all of them. Not those who are now pushing an unformed, soft-shelled thing like Romney to succeed where a pro has failed.
What are we left with, now that the consensus has collapsed? Nothing but the open spectacle of a mixed economy’s intellectual and moral bankruptcy, the random wreckage of its naked mechanism, with the screeching of its gears as the only sound in our public silence – the sound of crude, range-of-the-moment demands by pressure groups who have abandoned even the pretense of any political ideals or moral justification.
Sound familiar? Maybe a statement from the Presidential election of 2012? You could certainly be justified in thinking so.
But this was Ayn Rand, in a lecture given at the Ford Hall Forum on April 16, 1967. The President she was speaking of was Lyndon Johnson; the Romney in question was Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney.
But there’s another parallel that is, perhaps, even more telling; earlier in this same speech, Ms. Rand said:
Where is President Johnson’s consensus today? And where, politically, is President Johnson? To descend – in two years, in an era of seeming prosperity, without the push of any obvious national disaster – to descend from the height of a popular landslide to the status of a liability to his own party in the elections of 1966, is a feat that should give pause to anyone concerned with modern politics.
Mark Twain once said that history may not repeat, but it often rhymes. Consider once more the rhyming of Johnson’s Presidency and that of Barack Obama: Johnson’s downfall gave us the price-freezing, paranoid Nixon, the bland place-holder Ford, the inept and hapless Carter and finally, when the nation was sick of mediocrities and buffoons, the truly transformative Ronald Reagan. Barack Obama enjoys none of the advantages Johnson had; we are embroiled in a savage battle against radical Islam, the economy is stagnant due to idiotic fiscal and economic policies, and Barack Obama is probably the most inept President since Andrew Johnson. And there does not appear to be a Reagan waiting in the wings.
Rand also said, in this same speech: “As of this date, Governor Reagan seems to be a promising public figure – I do not know him and cannot speak for the future.”
Where is our next Reagan? Who will bring us the next Morning in America? Who will be the next promising figure in America’s future?
There is a historic rhyme that we’re still all waiting to see.
On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry said to the Virginia House of Burgesses, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!“
Now, two hundred and thirty-nine years later, that liberty has been vastly diminished. The minions of the Imperial Federal government pry into our financial affairs, they regulate every aspect of our businesses from start to finish; they interfere with us in our very homes. The Imperial City sits like a Colossus on the Potomac, having proven itself a dangerous servant and a dreadful master, far from the limited and transparent servant of the people our Founders envisioned.
Among those gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence were three ancestors of Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. Two are in my father’s lineage, Thomas McKean of Pennsylvania and Delaware and (tenuous connection) Abraham Clark of New Jersey. Mrs. Animal’s mother’s line can be traced back to Maryland’s Charles Carroll. Our ancestors fought to establish this country, but that gives us no special privilege or standing, merely a large dose of pride. America is still, for the most part, a land where we are judged by what we do, not by who our parents were.
What would the Founders think of what their brainchild has become?
Consider the words of another Founder, Samuel Adams: “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!“
Still, I try to remain cautiously optimistic. While many in our nation freely accept the chains Mr. Adams warned us about, the chains of government dependency, the over-reaching Presidency of Barack Obama may have rekindled some small appreciation for liberty. The upcoming Millennial generation of which my younger children are a part show strong sympathies with libertarian principles. So perhaps it is not too late to bring the Imperial City to heel, to retake the rightful control of our affairs which Washington has usurped.
So today is a holiday for most Americans, and most of us (yr. obdt. and family included) will enjoy a day free from toil, a day to enjoy the company of family and friends. But we should remember that this is also a day in which a small band of rebels threw off the chains of the greatest empire in the world to bring into being the greatest nation in human history, a nation that for whatever faults it has remains the best and last hope for peace, freedom and civilization in the world.
In a 1961 speech Ronald Reagan said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
We must guard our liberty with great and overwhelming jealousy. So much has already been chipped away, but if you look at the rest of the world – the Dark Ages mentality of much of the Middle East, the socialist morass of Europe, the fast-approaching demographic calamities of Russia, China and Japan – we’re still in pretty good shape.
The shining city on a hill has lost some of it’s luster. But we should not be ready to give up on America yet.