FAITH IN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
Attorney Jonathan Emord
Author of "The Rise of Tyranny"
July 5, 2010
Reagan Had It, Obama Does Not
Ronald Reagan had undying faith in the power of a free people to transform and uplift the world. If each citizen were free to chart his or her own destiny, pursue his or her own industry and improvement, there could be no end to the advancements. The trust in each American that defined Reagan’s optimism inspired a generation of entrepreneurs. It reinforced our confidence in the boundless potential of a free people. By contrast, Barak Obama’s distrust in freedom of choice and free markets reinforces uncertainty, anxiety and fear among entrepreneurs. Obama seeks to channel freedom of choice and free markets to achieve a never ending set of goals the government prefers. That distrust in freedom leads to a sense of helplessness, a belief that we are dependent on government for satisfaction of our every need.
When Reagan spoke of American greatness, he always did so by reference to individual Americans advancing their own interests unbounded by government. The government was for Reagan, as it was for the nation’s Founders, a necessary evil. When Obama speaks of American greatness, he does so by reference to the use of federal power. The government is, for him, an essential good. The difference in viewpoints and the consequences that flow from them could not be more extreme or pronounced.
For Reagan, the source of change to better mankind came from the infinite potential of a free people. The role of good government was to get out of the way. For Obama, the source of change to better mankind comes from government cooptation of free people and free enterprise, principally through the creation of a corporatist state. The role of government is to direct the use of private dollars, whether by pressuring financial markets into reaching outcomes favored by the Administration or by compelling every American to buy private health insurance. For Reagan, freedom was the objective. For Obama, politically preferred outcomes are the objective and freedom is of worth only if it facilitates attainment of those outcomes. To Ronald Reagan, government planning was a very dirty word because it offended the rights of individuals. In the world of Barak Obama government planning is idyllic because it denies the exercise of rights that would detract from achievement of his political agenda.
Although President Obama makes superficial overtures toward eliminating undue corporate influence in government (such as his executive order to ban lobbyists from serving on government panels), his every move into the market involves a government-corporate joint venture where industry leaders reap monopoly protections in exchange for conceding to the government substantive control over certain powers corporate executives previously wielded freely.
Because Reagan advocated free markets and opposed regulatory strictures that infringed on them, he encouraged entrepreneurs to look to competition to achieve their ends. To be sure, during the Reagan years there were industry leaders who curried favor with certain regulators for legal benefits at the expense of competitors (such is the lot of a bloated federal government), but the President’s desire and aim was to break down government barriers, not erect new ones.
So it was that Reagan FCC Commissioners Mark Fowler and Dennis Patrick dramatically reduced FCC content and structural regulations, succeeding magnificently in creating the greatest broadcast media boom in United States history—dozens of radio and television stations blossomed in individual urban media markets nationwide, opinionated talk radio enlivened the airwaves, and greater free play in mass media transactions became common.
Because Obama advocates regulatory strictures to alter free market processes in ways regulators favor, he encourages entrepreneurs to look to the government to achieve their ends. It is unsafe for a successful business to avoid interaction with politicians these days because the government presumes to regulate everything from home lending to car buying and health care. If you have property that could be adversely affected, you are given an incredible incentive to seek favorable regulatory treatment by endeavoring to influence political decision-making. Far from reducing lobbying, the Obama message to industry is to come to government and become one with us.
Because Reagan made government less important, thereby reducing corruption, Obama makes government all important, making corruption more pervasive in these latter days. The power brokers have become the heads of the regulatory agencies as never before. They sit like absolute monarchs who can determine exceptions to rules that will otherwise so raise the cost of business or so encumber its progress that many will find it difficult, if not impossible, to succeed. Rather than the gatekeeper being the vagaries of the market (changes in consumer demand), the gatekeeper has become the federal bureaucrat who rules by edict and can call into action federal law enforcement for those who are disobedient.
This signals a fundamental power shift. Because Reagan placed faith in free people and free markets, the market was understood to be all important. That elevated individual sovereignty because each person’s choice of what to buy solidly determined winners and losers in the market. Because Obama places faith in government, the market is no longer all important. The consumer is less important because the government can prop up industries, like failing financial institutions and automobile dealerships, at taxpayer expense, and allow others to collapse. Thus, our choice of what to buy does not solidly determine winners and losers in the market because the President, if he disagrees with our free choice, can use tax dollars and regulation to overrule that choice and keep a loser in the market.
In short, Reagan’s faith in the individual reinforced our sovereignty and freedom. It made us stronger and more independent. It helped assure us that government was to serve the American people, not the other way around. Obama’s distrust in the individual has reinforced governmental sovereignty.
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It is making us weaker and more dependent. It makes us believe that we are here to serve an agenda set by the government. We increasingly take on the mindset of a servile people. We do not presume to be in control of our own destiny but, rather, we understand that we are beholden to government for what will become of us. For those who love freedom, there is but one choice and that is to vote out those who trust in government in favor of those who trust in us.
© 2010 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved