- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2012


The Obama campaign has disavowed a Democratic National Convention video that said, “Government is the only thing we all belong to.” It’s odd President Obama would try to distance himself from that idea since in his heart he knows it’s right. Of course, in our guts, we know it’s nuts.

The video, entitled “Welcome to Charlotte,” aired Tuesday. It was produced by the convention host committee, not the Obama campaign or Democratic National Committee, though presumably representatives from both organizations vetted and approved it before it ran. The clip sent exactly the wrong message at the wrong time for the Democrats because it echoes “you didn’t build that” and the general belief that government, not individual initiative, is America’s motive force.

There are two ways to read the sentence. One is that a citizen’s relationship to government is like belonging to a great big club. Of course, this club will send you to jail for nonpayment of dues.

The other, more chilling way to read it is that people are creatures of government. That the government, by right, can exercise almost unlimited control over peoples’ lives. That the proper relationship between the state and the individual is that between master and servant. This is why the Obama campaign quickly threw the approved welcoming-committee video under the bus — its underlying tenet was just a little too blatant. The trick to collectivizing America is never admitting the objective. The end of freedom comes with the promise of “dignity” and the imposition of “fairness.” It starts with “hope and change” and ends with individual mandates.

Mr. Obama’s defenders claimed “You didn’t build that” was taken out of context, but it wasn’t. In that July 13 speech, The One laid out a vision for government action based on the premise that active state involvement was necessary for prosperity. In later speeches, he has discussed plans for economic recovery in which government plays the central role. In his acceptance speech Thursday night, the president is expected to propose more such state-centric solutions, funded by money the government doesn’t have and promising the same results that his previous attempts failed to deliver. Mr. Obama knows no other way. He is intellectually, temperamentally and emotionally wedded to the idea that government isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

As the preamble to the Constitution says the government was ordained and established by “We the People.” Before that, Americans declared independence, fought a war to realize it and established the Articles of Confederation. Even before those events, Americans carved a civilization out of the wilderness and began to forge the first new nation. Governments have come and gone but the people remain.

In 1886, in the case of Yick Wo v. Hopkins, Supreme Court Justice Stanley Matthews commented eloquently on the nature and origins of government. Sovereignty “is the author and source of law,” he wrote, but “sovereignty itself remains with the people, by whom and for whom all government exists and acts.” He continued that “the very idea that one man may be compelled to hold his life, or the means of living, or any material right essential to the enjoyment of life at the mere will of another seems to be intolerable in any country where freedom prevails, as being the essence of slavery itself.” What voters have to decide in the upcoming election is who belongs to whom.

The Washington Times

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