Four more years and the fear of au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By An­drew P. Napoli­tano

Only in Amer­ica can a pres­i­dent who in­her­its a deep re­ces­sion and whose poli­cies have ac­tu­ally made the ef­fects of that re­ces­sion worse get re-elected. Only in Amer­ica can a pres­i­dent get re-elected who wants the bu­reau­crats who can’t run the Post Of­fice to mi­cro­man­age the ad­min­is­tra­tion of ev­ery Amer­i­can’s health care. Only in Amer­ica can a pres­i­dent who kills Amer­i­cans over­seas who have never been charged or con­victed of a crime get re-elected. Only in Amer­ica can a pres­i­dent who bor­rowed and spent more than $5 tril­lion in fewer than four years, plans to re­pay none of it, and prom­ises to bor­row an­other $5 tril­lion in his sec­ond term, get re-elected. What’s go­ing on here? What is go­ing on is the present-day proof of the truism ob­served by Thomas Jef­fer­son and Alexan­der Hamil­ton, who rarely agreed on any­thing in pub­lic: When the vot­ers rec­og­nize that the pub­lic trea­sury has be­come a pub­lic trough, they will send to Wash­ing­ton not per­sons who will pro­mote self-re­liance and fos­ter an at­mos­phere of pros­per­ity, but those who will give away the most cash and thereby cre­ate de­pen­dency. This is an at­ti­tude that, though present in some lo­cal­i­ties in the colo­nial era, was cre­ated at the fed­eral level by Woodrow Wil­son and Theodore Roo­sevelt, mag­ni­fied by FDR, en­hanced by LBJ, and even­tu­ally joined in by all mod­ern-day Democrats and most con­tem­po­rary Republicans.

Fed­eral en­ti­tle­ments cost tax­pay­ers about $1.7 tril­lion a year. Un­der Pres­i­dent Obama, how­ever, the costs have ac­tu­ally in­creased, and so have the num­bers of those who now re­ceive them. Half of the coun­try knows this, and so it has glee­fully sent Mr. Obama back to of­fice so he can send them more fed­eral cash taken from the other half.

It is fair to say that Mr. Obama is the least skilled and least ef­fec­tive Amer­i­can pres­i­dent since Jimmy Carter, but he is far more men­ac­ing. His ev­ery in­stinct is to­ward the cen­tral plan­ning of the econ­omy and the fed­eral reg­u­la­tion of pri­vate be­hav­ior. He has no in­ter­est in pro­tect­ing Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees in harm’s way in Libya, and he never ad­mits he has been wrong about any­thing. Though he took an oath to up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion, he treats it as a mere guide­line, whose grand prin­ci­ples in­tended to guar­an­tee per­sonal lib­erty and a dif­fu­sion of power can be twisted and com­pro­mised to suit his pur­poses. He rejects the most fun­da­men­tal of Amer­i­can val­ues — that our rights come from our Cre­ator, and not from the gov­ern­ment. His re­jec­tion of that leads him to an ex­pan­sive view of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, which per­mits it, and thus him, to right any wrong, to reg­u­late any be­hav­ior and to tax any event, whether au­tho­rized by the Con­sti­tu­tion or not, and to sub­or­di­nate the in­di­vid­ual to the state at ev­ery turn.

As a prac­ti­cal mat­ter, we are in for very dif­fi­cult times dur­ing Mr. Obama’s sec­ond term. Oba­macare is now here to stay; so, no mat­ter who you are or how you pay your med­i­cal bills, fed­eral bu­reau­crats will di­rect your physi­cians in their treat­ment of you, and they will see your med­i­cal records. As well, Mr. Obama is com­mit­ted to rais­ing the debt of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to $20 tril­lion. So, if the Repub­li­can­con­trolled House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives goes along with this, as it did dur­ing Mr. Obama’s first term, the cost will be close to $1 tril­lion in in­ter­est pay­ments ev­ery year. As well, ev­ery­one’s taxes will go up on New Year’s Day, as the Bush-era tax cuts will ex­pire then. The pro­gres­sive vi­sion of a pop­u­lace de­pen­dent on a cen­tral gov­ern­ment and a Euro­pean-style wel­fare state is now at hand.

I ar­gued dur­ing the cam­paign that this elec­tion was a Hob­son’s choice be­tween big gov­ern­ment and big­ger gov­ern­ment. Re­gret­tably, this elec­tion ad­dressed how much pri­vate wealth the feds should seize and re­dis­tribute and how much pri­vate be­hav­ior they should reg­u­late, rather than whether the Con­sti­tu­tion per­mits them to do so. We have re­ally one po­lit­i­cal party whose two branches mir­ror each other’s wishes for war and power. De­spite all these re­al­i­ties, it is still un­set­tling to find Mr. Obama back in the White House for an­other four years. This sink­ing feel­ing comes from the knowl­edge that he is free from the need to keep an eye on the elec­torate and it comes from the ter­ri­ble thought that he may be the au­thor­i­tar­ian we have all known and feared would visit us one day to crush our per­sonal free­doms. An­drew P. Napoli­tano, a for­mer judge of the Su­pe­rior Court of New Jersey, is the se­nior ju­di­cial an­a­lyst at Fox News.

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