As an American immigrant, I idealized this nation’s embodiment of liberty. Bit by bit, I have had to let go of those illusions. The Land of the Free locks people up at a rate 13 times faster than its population growth, and holds more prisoners than any other country on Earth. Its tax department treats citizens and their families as U.S. government property, regardless of where they live in the world. And now that same IRS will be the arbiter of whether your health care meets the requirements of the federal government that ordered you to buy it.
Two years ago, I wrote that Americans would not stand for the excesses of a depraved organization like the TSA. And yet, polls show widespread support for that literal manifestation of government overreach, even as its perversions have spread beyond airports. Citizens born into freedom obediently line up to be molested and manhandled by government employees in the name of “safety.” No one wants to break from the herd. In truth, Americans would rather belong than be free.
Actually, it seems Americans rather like being told what to do. And that is what modern liberalism is all about — telling you what you can say, what you can eat, what kind of car you can drive and whether you must wear a helmet while talking, eating or driving. The late William F. Buckley described a liberal as, “someone who wants to reach into your shower and adjust the temperature of the water.” Americans have voted for just that kind of official officiousness.
I never would have thought it, and it flies in the face of convention to say so but, with lower tax rates, greater freedom of movement and a more liberated view of industry and energy, Canadians are more attuned to freedom than their American cousins are (socialized medicine notwithstanding, but just wait …).
It is said that Americans will elect anyone to Congress — once (John Edwards, please call your office). Since 2008, I have wondered if the same is true of the presidency. Obama swept into his first term amid a unique confluence of events, including a financial crisis, a deeply unpopular incumbent party and a somnambulant Republican opponent. It could have been a fluke.
And despite his liberal leanings, I thought it was possible Obama might pleasantly surprise. As I wrote at the time, “Here’s hoping that he is such a smashing success that he gets busted onto Mt. Rushmore and his face knocks Thomas Jefferson’s right off the nickel.”
But it was no fluke, and Obama was utterly unsurprising. As I said on radio after this year’s election, nothing would make me happier than to become a fan of Barack Obama. But this time, there is far less reason for hope. He has proven to be the hard-left, big-government liberal he seemed. And Americans seem to be okay with this.
I genuinely do not know if conservatism can win again, or what this will mean for the future of the nation. While others on the right have pronounced this to be the end of America, perhaps they’ll forgive me if I rage a little longer against the dying of the light.
Lord knows I have been wrong before (and recently), so I hesitate to make hard and fast predictions. Nevertheless, it seems that in re-electing Obama, the United States has ratified its own decline. Good luck, America. You’re going to need it.
Theo Caldwell, an investor and broadcaster, has been a member of the New York Stock Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and the Kansas City Board of Trade. You can email him at [email protected].