A Crossroads Election

From arbitrarily imposed rules on businesses to the revocation of many First Amendment protections, our current crop of politicians are leading us down a dark path. Can we turn it around?

Most elections are about particular policies, particular scandals or particular personalities. But these issues don't mean as much this year‒ not because they are not important, but because this election is a crossroads election, one that can decide what path this country will take for many years to come.
Runaway "stimulus" spending, high unemployment and ObamaCare are all legitimate and important issues. It is just that freedom and survival are more important.
For all its sweeping and scary provisions, ObamaCare is not nearly as important as the way it was passed. If legislation can become laws passed without either the public or the Congress knowing what is in those laws, then the fundamental principle of a free, self-governing people is completely undermined.
Some members of Congress who voted for ObamaCare, and who are now telling us that they realize this legislation has flaws which they intend to correct, are missing the point.
The very reason for holding hearings on pending legislation, listening to witnesses on all sides of the issue, and having Congressional debates that will be reported and commented on in the media, is so that problems can be explored and alternatives considered before the legislation is voted into law.
Rushing ObamaCare into law too fast for anyone to have read it served no other purpose than to prevent this very process from taking place. The rush to pass this law that would not take effect until after the next two elections simply cut the voters out of the loop ‒ and that is painfully close to ruling by decree.
Other actions and proposals by this administration likewise represent moves in the direction of arbitrary rule, worthy of a banana republic, with only a mocking facade of freedom.
These include threats against people who simply choose to express opinions counter to administration policy, such as a warning to an insurance company that there would be "zero tolerance" for "misinformation" when the insurance company said that ObamaCare would create costs that force up premiums.
Zero tolerance for the right of free speech guaranteed by the Constitution?
This warning comes from an administration with arbitrary powers that can impose ruinous costs on a given business.
Those who are constantly telling us that our economic problems are caused by not enough "regulation" never distinguish between regulation which simply enforces known rules, as contrasted with regulation that gives arbitrary powers to the government to force others to knuckle under to demands that have nothing to do with the ostensible purposes of the regulation.
As more businesses reveal that they are considering no longer buying health insurance for their employees, as a result of higher costs resulting from ObamaCare legislation, the administration has announced that it can grant waivers that reduce these costs.
But the power to grant waivers is the power to withhold waivers ‒ an arbitrary power that can impose millions of dollars in costs on businesses that the administration doesn't like.
Recent proposals from the Obama administration to force disclosure of the names of people who sponsor election ads would likewise open all who disagree with Obama to retaliation by the government itself, as well as by community activists and others.
History tells us where giving government one arbitrary power after another leads. It is like going into a Venus fly-trap, which is easy to enter and nearly impossible to get out of.
The headstrong, know-it-all willfulness of this administration, which threatens our freedom at home, also threatens our survival in the international jungle, because Obama seems determined to do nothing that will stop Iran from going nuclear.
The Obama administration goes through all sorts of charades at the U.N. and signs international agreements on sanctions that have been watered down to the point where they are not about to bring Iran's nuclear weapons program to a halt. The purpose is not to stop Iran but to stop the American people from realizing what Obama is doing or not doing.
We have a strange man in the White House. This election is a crossroads, because either his power will be curbed by depriving him of his huge Congressional majorities or he will continue on a road that jeopardizes both our freedom and our survival.

Thomas Sowell is a Senior Fellow at The Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. He has published dozens of books on economics, education, race, and other topics. His most recent book is The Housing Boom and Bust, from April 2009.

6 comments from readers  

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As usual, Mr. Sowell is exactly right. I am Canadian, but I fear for America's future under the government of Mr. Obama who displays no respect for the hard-fought-for freedoms that Americans enjoy, nor an understanding of what made America both wealthy and a magnet for immigrants from all over the world. One of America's greatest assets is the optimism of Americans, and their can-do attitude. All of America's success comes out of the Enlightenment ideals embedded in the Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution. Mr. Obama seems to lack any grounding in these documents or in American history, and that makes his governance dangerous to the future of America as the prosperous, peaceful redoubt that it has always been in this very dangerous world.
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Kudos. You have gone to the heart of the matter.

I believe America will be either corrected or lost within the next 50 years, and this election is a pivotal moment. Many voters will have never really known that transportation, schools, housing, healthcare and retirement could be anyone's responsibility but the government's. (The famous San Francisco Cable Cars ran 52 years before they became municipal. The first thing the city did was abandon two lines!)

On the other hand, young people have a very acute "hypocrisy-radar" (which makes them unfortunately very susceptible to suicide when they learn how two-faced their beloved adults are.) I hope it will come into play at the polls despite the dire warnings from the minions of the RepubliCrat candidates that "tea-partiers are extremist and dangerous!"
Clear, concise, rational, and correct.

I agree that this is a crossroad election and the direction to go at this time is that which will eventually lead us to a laissez-faire capitalist economic system. For that to happen, it will require far more than winning this one election.

We must overturn the more than one-hundred years of statist progressive destruction of the philosophical basis of our society. To do so requires introducing the citizenry to the ideas of Objectivist Philosophy and to the implementation of that philosophy as expressed in the recently published "The Capitalist Manifesto" by Andrew Bernstein. The lesson in that work is that only through the protection of the rights of the individual can a society that benefits the nation and the world be developed.

The effort to change the philosophical basis of our society is what Ayn Rand was attempting to do in her great novels and subsequent writings. As one who has been greatly influenced by these works, I submit that she has begun to succeed.

It will be a long and difficult road that will lead to the recovery of our lost freedoms. As Dr. Sowell says, President Obama's power must be curbed. After that, we must carry onward the work begun by Ayn Rand.
When bills are passed by Congressmen who have not read them, they cannot pretend that they are ruling in a constitutional manner. How would they know if they have violated the Constitution? Of course, many of the Democrats have outright laughed at the idea that anything they do might be considered unconstitutional. This is an assertion on their part that there are no limits on their power. When a government recognizes no limits on its power, it is a tyranny.

This government clearly is making a practice of trampling our equal, sovereign individual rights to life, liberty, property, the ownership of our own bodies and minds, and our pursuit of happiness. The recent Democrat Congress has made it clear that it has no regard for individual rights. Biden says they do not even exist, unless government chooses to offer the People, or more like some of the People, a particular grant of a right. White males need not apply, but do fill out the form that says that your business is not minority owned.
Sowell is right, but wrong to blame what is wrong on Obama. Obama is just continuing a trend. George Bush was openly hostile to First Amendment expression and suppressed public protests against him.

Laws passed before they are read are nothing new - it happens with every budget bill and with any "comprehensive" bill. No one understands the tax code, or energy law, or environmental law - or laws on a thousand other subjects, including criminal law. Criminal laws have been written to give government prosecutors a license to hunt down and imprison anyone whose business behavior they don't approve of. And to punish those whose lifestyles are disapproved by those in power.

Election laws are written to protect incumbents and to discourage and punish challengers - why the surprise?

Republicans and Democrats alike believe in the power of the government to do good by passing new laws and regulations. That is the mistake, the idea that must be rejected before arbitrary power can be curtailed. We don't have the wrong "leaders," the wrong judges, the wrong laws. We have a disease that needs curing - the belief that coercive acts of government can produce economic growth, technical advances, happiness, safety, cleaner air, cleaner water, better health, etc.

A change of who is in charge will not result in a freer and healthier and happier society. A change of attitude will.
I consider government immoral. I do not recognize it as my ruler. I will not vote and give my sanction to democracy. Writing moral blank checks are not in my best interest. I am sorry the world (majority) does not agree. I would not force people to be free and I will not let the majority frighten me into going along to get along. When I give up my rights, I do so under duress and I will continue to express my opposition until even that is denied me.

I do not consider this a "crossroads election". We crossed the road into socialism and the police state decades ago. Its hard to recognize the forest when you are deep it it.
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