The thing about the news is you can never know where it's going. But lately, it's falling into an all too familiar pattern.Perhaps that's because it's a mistake to look first to Washington.
How many Sundays have we started this broadcast the way we did today, with some terrible story from overseas, while back home, there's an equally important story competing for attention?
The overseas stories change, but here is the worrisome part. The story here is always just more of the same old same old, yet another variation of how Washington doesn't work.
"The New York Times" columnist, Tom Friedman, remarked the other day that Silicon Valley is the place where ideas come to be launched. Washington is the place they come to die.
But it is worse than that. As we saw last week, Washington has now given up on even trying to make the old ideas work. It is only February, but the way I read it, the president's retreat from entitlement reform, coupled with the Republican retreat on immigration reform, all but makes it official -- Washington is done for the year. Expect nothing else of consequence to happen here.
As a rule, not much gets done anyway in an election year, but Washington is off to its earliest start ever.
Where government power is unchecked, where political opposition is demonized, marginalized, and suppressed, where people are molested by agents and offices of the state, the fact that a government can point to a “democratic” victory to defend its actions will never preclude popular protests. And a change in government, as we saw in Egypt and elsewhere, is no guarantee that popular discontent is alleviated. Although it is grievances about specific governments, specific policies, and specific abuses of power that animate any particular protest, it is the ability of government to wield as much power as people have allowed it to that give life to protest in the first place.Fortunately, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have been able to secure a monopoly on demonization, marginalization, or suppression, and the fanatical moochers in the Democrat base and the fanatical believers in the Republican base counteract each other in numbers sufficient to secure gridlock, which is preferable to the tyranny either of Kenyan socialism or potted theocracy.
To the likes of Mr Schieffer and the legions of wannabe Influential People that gather Sunday mornings in front of pictures of the Capitol to hold forth on the Latest (manufactured) Crisis, however, that is as garlic to vampires. Offer public affairs programming that takes seriously the idea that Government is Big because Government Generates Rents and Rent-Seeking Creates Gridlock and the whole Pundit Industry will collapse.
'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.
The Obama administration has been the culmination of the advancement of state intrusion into our lives that began roughly a hundred years ago and has reached such a point that the originality and the intentions of our country are barely recognizable. The results of this have been disastrous both economically and socially, most of all in terms of the personal freedom and liberty of our citizens. We have gone backwards in many ways, not the least of which is that race relations have deteriorated during the administration of the first African-American president, largely due to state meddling. We are divided as we have never been since the Civil War, and for really no good reason.In the absence of clear limitations on state power, specifically, government with limited and enumerated powers, it is gridlock that protects the liberties of the people.
The people aren’t the problem. It’s the state.
And in a still-growing country of over 300 million the state gets bigger and bigger and bigger just by entropy, until we are all engulfed.
We need some government, obviously, but at this point in American history, in order to save our nation, we need to get the state as much as possible out of our lives, to cut its functions with a meat cleaver to release our better impulses, to have the renewal of Spring. Deep down even some modern liberals realize this. (Bill Clinton famously said the era of big government is over before running the other way as if in fear of his own honesty.)
In this coming crucial year, those of us who feel the overweening state is the problem must reach out our hands to our fellow citizens as never before. My sense is that many of them are ready to hear our message. (The fiasco of Obamacare has been a gift in that regard.) And if we don’t reach out our hands, there will be no American Spring. Things will only get worse. (The horrific attempt of the FCC to monitor newsrooms is a harbinger of totalitarian things to come.)