November, 7, 2012 -- Barack Obama’s reelection victory, with a narrow popular vote margin, does not constitute a mandate for his future policies; he didn’t give us specifics about them in any case. But we know from Obama's first term that he is a paternalist and a socialist, whether he labels himself as such or not. He wants to push for more government control of our lives and limits on our liberty.
In his concession speech, Mitt Romney said “Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work.” After an exhausting and grueling campaign, there are calls for the country and policymakers to come together, to respect the will of the voters.
In the end, the system must collapse, as it has in European countries like Greece.
But friends of freedom, including Republicans who count themselves in this category, should do no such thing. The democratic process is a means to preserve individual liberty, but fewer Americans today value liberty. The consensus about the purpose of government has been seriously eroded. Cooperation between those who accept Obama’s philosophy and those who don’t means a surrender of the latter to the former.
Those who love liberty must continue to struggle against the new tyranny in this country, devising more effective strategies based on sound philosophical principles.
If Mitt Romney had been elected, he might have
started to reverse some of the damage Obama has done to economic liberty. But that won’t happen. Obamacare is permanent for the foreseeable future, controlling one-sixth of the economy and our personal healthcare choices; watch for shortages of physicians in the future.
The Obama White House will continue to hamper energy production, attacking the coal industry, barring the Keystone pipeline that could bring oil from Canada, and stopping the fracking method for extracting our abundance of natural gas. There are some cold winters ahead.
And many entrepreneurs and business folks will continue to sit on their capital rather than invest it in productive efforts in fear of Obama’s assault on wealth producers.
Republicans still control the House and thus, if they resist the temptation to make peace with the enemies of freedom, they will be able to resist any more of Obama’s more egregious socialist plans. But stopping Obama from committing new abuses of liberty through legislation won’t stop the country’s collapse.
The deep fissure
The fact that a majority of Americans could reelect Obama, with his leftist ideology and policy failures, shows just how deep the fissure in the moral foundation of American freedom really is. Even the election of Romney would not have obviated this sad fact.
We see this divide manifest in politics. Until recent decades, most Americans and the policymakers they elected believed in the legitimacy of the capitalist system of private property and free exchange. Yes, liberals and even some moderates on the left also favored a government-supplied safety net for those who might need temporary help in hard times, and they believed government should tweak the system to deal with what they saw—erroneously—as market failures.
But the leftist political elites today led by Obama are socialists of the corporatist variety. They believe that because individuals face challenges in life from the cradle to grave, government must provide entitlements and guarantees for every aspect of life. And thus the government must control every aspect of life—see Obamacare.
But there’s an economic logic working its way out as a result of this paternalist ideology. Government must increasingly take from productive citizens to pay for entitlements which, in turn, will discourage production which, in turn, will mean less wealth to redistribute to the growing army of people in need, which, in turn, will mean even greater burdens on the shrinking productive class. In the end, the system must collapse, as it has in European countries like Greece.
This process has created the dependent mentality of the emerging class of Americans who look to government rather than themselves to pay for or provide for their housing, healthcare, education, you name it.
America is now in a civil war—albeit a bloodless one so far—between the makers and the takers, the producers versus the expropriators
The battle ahead
So what now for the friends of freedom? To begin with, we must recognize that these political and economic battles are at root one battle between the philosophies of individualism and collectivism. It is a battle between those who believe they have a moral right to their own lives and that their own happiness and flourishing should be their goal, and those who believe that, in Bill Clinton’s words, “We’re all in this together” and that service to our neighbors, communities, others, the environment, anything but ourselves should be our moral goal, even to the sacrifice of our own goals, dreams, families, friends, and values.
The solution is to fight for individualism, to restore the moral foundations of the country. It is to seek short-term strategies to show our fellow citizens who elected Obama that he is leading country to destruction. It is to raise the consciousness of producers so that they will refuse to be used as sacrificial animals. It is to awaken the citizens, who are more and more dependent on expropriation, to the fact that this is a way of life unworthy of them. It is to focus on educating young people in economic and moral realities so that they can help make a better future for themselves and the country in the long-term.
Ronald Reagan liked to say that there are no permanent defeats because there are no permanent victories. I won’t minimize the fact that the road ahead will be difficult. Yes, it can be depressing. But freedom must be fought for. Patriots did so in the war that gave America its independence, established on the principle that we each are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are in community with those patriots of two centuries ago as we fight for freedom today.
Edward Hudgins writes on political and social issues. He is the editor of Freedom to Trade: Refuting the New Protectionism, Space: The Free Market Frontier, and two books on postal service privatization. His latest collection is entitled An Objectivist Secular Reader. He is director of advocacy for The Atlas Society.