The Capitol phone lines were jammed by angry constituents calling to oppose the most unpopular government power grab in years. The unpopular president was just as determined to force the unConstitutional legislation on the non-consenting governed. He tried to increase popular buy-in to his scheme by painting doom-and-gloom scenarios about financial ruin if people the did not submit to the coddling control of the federal government. The people stood firm, and made clear that they resented and rejected such arrogant paternalism. But our wanna-be overlord, and his Mrs.-Danvers minions, twisted enough arms in Congress to push the legislation through.
It was September-October 2008 when Republican President George Bush XLIII and Congress forced the unpopular bank bail-out on the American people. A month later, the Democrats won sweeping victories in the White House and Congress.
This morning, now that the Democrats have made a similar mistake, the Republican hands that were wringing themselves raw a year and one-half ago are now rubbing themselves in gleeful hope for a similar sweep by their side in November. But anyone who's paid attention to Republican governance over the past two decades should realize that Republican electoral victory is no way to loosen the grasping grip of government.
That's because, like their Democratic colleagues, too many Republicans have, wittingly or unwittingly, adopted the assumption of the zeitgeist that government is the solution to our problems.
As I explained in Slaying Leviathan:
The modern philosophy of government was born during the Progressive era. This philosophy emphasizes a powerful central government that intentionally redistributes wealth. It has largely replaced America's founding philosophy, which emphasized limited government protecting individual rights.
If we want to set America back on the path to freedom and prosperity, swinging the pendulum back and forth between two parties that have both substantially bought into the Progressive vision of big government isn't going to work.
What we need to do is to revive the Founders' vision of a Constitutional republic that protects the individual rights of people who exercise individual responsibility. It means educating ourselves in the history and philosophy of republican government, the history and philosophy of progressive government, and the principles of economic freedom that the former respects and the latter disregards. It means making certain that those who would presume to govern us are educated in these things too. It means restoring a culture of freedom and responsibility, where paternalistic power grabs like bank bail-outs and health-insurance take-overs are quickly dismissed as the offensive absurdities that they are.
Can we do this by November? Of course not. And the pressures simply to work hard to replace Democratic bums with Republican bums and hope for the best are all around. But recent history shows that such hope will be very much misplaced. What I'm proposing is much more challenging and much more complicated, and it will take much more time. But it will also be much more effective and much more lasting.
Benjamin Franklin famously said that our Founders had given us "a republic, if you can keep it". We're losing it. But we can still take it back.