- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 2, 2000

No, this will not be about the president's State of the Union address. Its blatantly socialist content was noteworthy only to the extent to which Mr. Clinton invoked the Founding Fathers. That, and his shameless celebration of our armed forces, coming from a man who never recanted his open hatred of the military, was a performance on par with "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

No, the thoughts about to follow were prompted by the Republican response. Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, began her speech with the following sentence: "Our Republican agenda is driven by the simple but powerful truth that America will continue to lead the world as long as our government allows opportunity, initiative, and freedom to flourish."

Allows? Government allows?

Is there a single passage in the Constitution of the United States that asserts, or even implies, it is the prerogative of government to allow citizens this, that or the other? Is it not the letter and spirit of the Constitution to define what government may or may not do?

Having spent my 20 years in a country where, indeed, citizens anxiously awaited government decrees, the mindset of hoping for the benevolence of government is familiar. On occasion, the government would allow athletes and artists to travel abroad so long as their hard-currency earnings were turned in. Or, the government would allow the formation of a non-communist patriotic organization on a trial basis.

But in America? We look to government to allow freedom?

Readers of this column might well have become exasperated by excessive references to socialism, its agenda and vocabulary. Perhaps this annoying preoccupation could be reappraised now. Consider: It was not one of the 58 declared socialists who make up the Progressive Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives; it was not a closet-socialist like Sen. Edward Kennedy. It was the Republican response to the State of the Union that demonstrated the presence of the socialist mindset.

Sen. Susan Collins is not at fault here. Perhaps nobody is at fault here. Socialism is not a person, not a conspiracy, not even ideology any more. It has become a degenerative process that gradually eats away at a person's common sense and powers of reasoning, not unlike leukemia eats away red blood cells.

The first symptoms are certain words and phrases some quite innocuous that creep into everyday use: reactionary, capitalism, exploitation, working Americans vs. the wealthy, private sector, human resources department, world peace, politically correct, social justice, economic justice, or calling people fascists. (The term denotes exclusively members of Benito Mussolini's party in Italy, extinct in 1944.) All the above are words invented or adapted for the Marxist-Leninist dictionary. Words are immensely powerful, whether used against us or used by us.

The next stage is a growing preoccupation with problems that, by definition, cannot be solved, such as disease, poverty or world hunger. Tangible and useful work in the community is replaced by blustery slogans that lead to inaction and the early emergence of megalomania, such a 8-year-olds who want to save the Earth instead of learning to write their names. In the adult world, it leads to politicians who, for example, preach about global warming, instead of providing the service they had been elected to perform.

The children and politicians in the preceding examples claim divine powers for themselves. But we have gone past even that stage by now if we have transferred to government the power to "allow opportunity, initiative, and freedom" so we may flourish.

"Transfer" is the appropriate word here, for this nation's formal existence began with the phrase "We the People." When, how, and who proposed that we abandon our Constitution?

The "Re-Elect America" bus tour, described before in this column, will pose that very question to the People. When we speak of the rule of law as the North Star of America's compass, we mean the Constitution as it describes itself in Article VI. "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof … shall be the supreme Law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby."

In practical terms, this should mean that neither Congress nor state legislatures may enact laws that are inconsistent with the Constitution. Even a law passed without a single dissenting vote is illegitimate if it cannot be reconciled with the Constitution.

In practical terms, this should mean that even the opinion of a Supreme Court justice is moot if it cannot be reconciled with the Constitution.

All laws, all interpretations must pass the test of having been "made in Pursuance" of the Constitution. That, by definition, is likely to result in relatively few laws.

By contrast, the socialist mindset expresses itself by making up laws and handing down opinions based on an agenda of social justice. And since people's view of social justice changes all the time, the need is for new laws all the time. Lots of them. Thousands of them. And once we have been tied in knots by them, we become supplicants hoping that "our government will allow opportunity, initiative, and freedom to flourish." In no time, we look to government to educate our children, to manage our health, to supervise our relationships, to settle our most private disputes.

The time has come to admit that our increasingly socialist mindset cuts across party lines. The time has come to realize that our thoughts and attitudes have been invaded by propositions utterly alien to America.

The time has come to re-elect America.

Balint Vazsonyi, author of "America's 30 Years War: Who Is Winning?," is director of the Center for the American Founding and its "Re-Elect America" bus tour.

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