Making the United States Exceptional Again

Rich Lowry and Ramesh Ponnuru had an excellent cover piece in the National Review before last on the domestic battle over American exceptionalism, which divides pretty conveniently along the current line of left and right. President Obama is obviously a key figure in the dispute.
Not surprisingly, what strikes me is the gargantuan task facing those of us who’d like to defend and reassert the principles on which our nation was founded:

Corporations, meanwhile, are also becoming more dependent on government handouts. Rivalry between business and political elites has helped to safeguard American liberty. What we are seeing now is the possible emergence of a new political economy in which Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Government all have cozy relations of mutual dependence. The effect would be to suppress both political choice and economic dynamism.
The retreat from American exceptionalism has a legal dimension as well. Obama’s judicial nominees are likely to attempt to bring our Constitution into line with European norms. Here, again, he is building on the work of prior liberals who used the federal courts as a weapon against aspects of American exceptionalism such as self-government and decentralization. In¬≠creasingly, judicial liberals look to putatively enlightened foreign, and particularly European, opinion as a source of law capable of displacing the law made under our Constitution.
Liberal regulators threaten both our dynamism and our self-government. They are increasingly empowered to make far-reaching policy decisions on their own — for instance, the EPA has the power to decide, even in the absence of cap-and-trade legislation passed by Congress, how to regulate carbon emissions. The agency thus has extraordinary sway over the economy, without any meaningful accountability to the electorate. The Troubled Asset Relief Program has turned into a honeypot for the executive branch, which can dip into it for any purpose that suits it. Government is increasingly escaping the control of the people from whom it is supposed to derive its powers.

I’d suggest that the Republicans of the Bush years proved that the temptations for corruption and intermedling are too great at the national level. Even the best intentioned of people will find it difficult to resist the urge to reach in and fix every problem in sight — which is to say that they’ll convince themselves not to relinquish the power of their offices. The only possibility, that I can see, is a resurgence of attention to local and state government, forcing freedom and federalism back up the tiers of government and pulling authority back toward the people.

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13 years ago

>>>>Republicans of the Bush years proved that the temptations for corruption and intermedling are too great at the national level. Even the best intentioned of people……..
Assuming that they had any “best intentioned” people is a mistake in the first place. The modern GOP is virtually 100% Corporate Based and cares nothing about this country and everything about Globalism. Examples include Cheneys company Haliburton moving to the middle east to reduce their tax burden, while at the same time accepting billion in contracts, and southern senators fighting against the domestic car (and airplane) industries because foreign plants are located there.
I think, Justin, that you should keep this maxim in mind:
“If government is necessary, bad government, at least for conservatives, is inevitable, and conservatives have been exceptionally good at showing just how bad it can be. Hence the truth revealed by the Bush years: Bad government–indeed, bloated, inefficient, corrupt, and unfair government–is the only kind of conservative government there is. Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.”
If your entire basis is that the government is not needed or bad or evil, you should not even be in the job!
Now, you seem to realize this somewhat, but just because Conservatives can’t govern does not mean that others can’t!
No doubt government is a big and complex institution. So it is, and so it always will be. But any reasonable look at talent, capability, intelligence and especially ideals…..will lead you to the conclusion that Obama and his admin is head and shoulders over the Bush/Cheney Despots.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

I don’t get why Stuart is so damn unhappy with this country.I doubt he’s living under a bridge.As a matter of fact,he’s probably somewhat comfortable.
If someone is down and out,it’s hard to dismiss their attitudes as whining.But i notice people like Stuart and the odious Klaus on Kmareka always seem to have something negative about our way of life.
Klaus’ little rant on “dining” like the Europeans instead of “eating” like us exemplified the “limousine liberal”mentality.
To be serious,neither Klaus nor Stuart sound like they actually have limousines,but I’m sure they’re not getting around on tricycles.

13 years ago

“What we are seeing now is the possible emergence of a new political economy in which Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Government all have cozy relations of mutual dependence.”
You guys think this just happened now (or more likely should I suggest that this is a cynical ploy to co-opt populist outrage)? What, you spend the Bush administration under a rock or something?
A Cabinet That Looks Like (Corporate) America
No doubt, the Democrats are almost as bad.

13 years ago

No offense, Joe, but accusing others of always seeming to have something negative to say? We’ve heard quite a bit about your own views on what’s wrong with this country. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, quite the contrary. I’m just saying.

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