Every so often we find it is wise to pull out and read portions of one of the seminal documents about America, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. More recently (like, you know, the last six years), it’s become necessary to reach for it more often – about two to three times a day, sort of like a political antibiotic. Fortunately, it’s got unlimited refills.
(This is where we’d expect erstwhile former White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor to pipe up and say, “Dude, that was like two hundred years ago.”)
One of the things that fascinated Tocqueville about America was its public associations. Of those associations he said this:
If a stoppage occurs in a thoroughfare and the circulations of vehicles is hindered, the neighbors immediately form themselves into a deliberative body; and the extemporaneous assembly gives rise to an executive power which remedies the inconvenience before anybody has thought of recurring to a pre-existing authority superior to that of the persons concerned.
Well, that’s probably not the best example. Today, if a traffic accident occurs, one is more likely to see multiple incidents of road rage long before it occurs to anyone to move the cars out of the way.
Let’s try this passage instead:
The more it [the government] stands in the place of associations, the more will individuals, losing the notion of combining together, require its assistance: these are causes and effects that increasingly create each other.
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere! Or, there’s this:
No sooner does a government attempt to go beyond its political sphere and to enter upon this new track than it exercises, even unintentionally, an unstoppable tyranny: for a government can only dictate strict rules, the opinions which it favors are rigidly enforced, and it is never easy to discriminate between its advice and its commands.
So, what the heck does this all mean? Well, for starters, it means that one better think twice before extending an invitation to Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi to speak before one’s Elks club meeting. It probably won’t turn out well. Soon you’ll be hearing from the Department of Justice looking into your membership. Hmm, the LGBTQ (especially Q!) community is woefully underrepresented in your chapter. Better do something about that or the government will rescind your trademark. What, you don’t have a trademark? Then the government will approve your trademark just to it can rescind it. And don’t even get them started about how offensive your organization is to elks.
What it also means is that the government should not care one bit what the National Football League’s (NFL) Washington franchise is called. If it does care that the Washington team is called the Red…, my editor is peering over my shoulder and there appears to be a man from a fairly prestigious law firm peering over hers. See what I mean!
When Tocqueville warned of government encroaching on or replacing public associations, he was warning us about progressivism. As I have stated before, progressivism is liberalism in a clean shirt and tie. Progressives believe all people (themselves, excluded, of course) are toddlers wandering near the backyard swimming pool (without floaties), thereby requiring constant supervision. Naturally, the progressives see the federal government as the vehicle for doing the supervising. And the government is oh, so talented at this – just ask the Internal Revenue Service or the Veterans Administration.
We are reminded of a Monty Python sketch about the Royal Society for Putting Things on Top of Other Things. It was a funny bit. Yet, if such a public association were to exist in the United States, the government would soon have regulations designating the amount, size, weight and shape of things that could be put atop other things and would also regulate the amount, size, weight and shape of the things upon which other things could be put. Licensing and twenty hours of continuing education each year would no doubt also be required. Soon, such an association would be regulated out of existence and the government would take over the responsibility of putting things on top of other things.
Although Tocqueville stated that it isn’t easy to discriminate between government’s advice and commands, this does not apply to the IRS. They only issue commands. Especially if one is a conservative organization that believes the progressive government of Barack Obama issues way too many commands already. And one of those commands seems to be – stop complaining already or you’ll go to jail. Of course, the email where that was specifically stated seems to have made its way on board Malaysian flight 370 and is either on the bottom of the ocean or orbiting Jupiter, depending upon which theory CNN is pitching this week.
Of course, this is true of big government in general. As the size and power of government grows, so too do its commands, as those replace any advice. Although, if you still want advice from the government about what earrings to wear, the NSA can oblige. The folks at the NSA no doubt know your outfits better than you do.
by Curtice Mang – Front Lines Blog