- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

SAVING FREEDOM: WE CAN STOP AMERICA’S SLIDE INTO SOCIALISM

By Jim DeMint

Fidelis Books, $26.99, 314 pages

It would appear that the Republican Party is moribund. President Obama’s initiatives have set Republicans back on their heels. The Republican minority in Congress can say “no,” but the word doesn’t resonate. Obamacrats can bulldoze the legislative process, converting America into a command economy with government expanding its authority each passing day.

But all is not lost.

There is a senatorial voice that sings a different Washington tune. He is Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, and he not only continually exposes the drift to socialism in the United States, he offers a plan of action in his latest book, “Saving Freedom,” released by Fidelis Books.

Mr. DeMint understands that what is at stake in the present government grab for power is nothing less than the loss of freedom. As former President Gerald R. Ford noted, “A government that is large enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.” Thomas Jefferson was prescient about the present administration when he noted in the beginning of the 19th century that “a democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

Freedom is imperiled when the government serves as the engineer to adjudicate what it believes to be social inequities. The engineers often act out of magnanimous motives, as Mr. DeMint indicates, but the results are often destructive. Freedom suffers when good intentions are translated into misguided policies. In fact, most in Congress never heard of the law of unintended consequences.

Mr. DeMint writes eloquently of the “siren song of socialism.” Alas, the song is irresistible because the melody is sweet, the lyrics comforting, but, as was the case with Odysseus, those who succumb to the siren song are doomed.

There are foundational positions adopted by the Founding Fathers that have served this nation well for more than 200 years. They include ideas that once needed no recitation; they were built into the warp and woof of the nation. But we have forgotten or overlooked them in our time. They include: limited government, checks and balances, a nexus to our Judeo-Christian traditions, a rule of law based on constitutional provisions, a respect for private property, a reliance on individual rights, equality before the law.

What we seemingly have at the moment is a group of unbounded Robin Hoods who assume they are acting against the Sheriff of Nottingham. Intent on the redistribution of wealth, they overlook how wealth was established in the first place.

Apparently, they overlook Abraham Lincoln’s admonition that the country cannot make a poor man rich by making a rich man poor. Productivity emerges from incentives. It is axiomatic to suggest that if you destroy economic incentives, as has been the case in socialist societies everywhere, people pretend to work and the government pretends to pay them.

Mr. DeMint not only describes the problems we face and the contrast of present legislation with our traditions, he offers an action plan to save freedom and restore economic incentives. First, he contends that we should return to first principles, including a defense of the Judeo-Christian heritage that built the liberty we enjoy. He also notes that we should encourage an educational system that “would allow states to operate much like a charter school operates within a local public school system.”

In other words, states should have the freedom to be innovative if they meet certain standards. Third, he believes in simplifying the tax structure with a two-level flat tax that would resuscitate economic incentives and eliminate arcane tax laws.

He argues for portable health insurance and tax exclusions to purchase it. And he contends that peace through strength is the essence of American national security. This nation, with all its imperfections, is the shining “city on the hill” that serves as a model for freedom-loving people everywhere.

Mr. DeMint has captured the genuine spirit of America in a little more than 300 pages. More important, he speaks to us as a contemporary Thomas Paine, espousing words of common sense. If we are to stop the national slide into socialism, it is time to heed his warning.

It seems to me that it also is time for Republicans to use this book as a blueprint for party revival. Mr. DeMint’s ideas aren’t necessarily new, but they are the principles woven into the fabric of this great nation, and they should be reclaimed and reasserted.

Herbert London is president of the Hudson Institute, professor emeritus of New York University and author of “Decade of Denial,” Lexington Books, and “America’s Secular Challenge,” Encounter Books.


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