So far as liberty is concerned, until recently no one but libertarians have been arguing that we were insufficiently free in the United States. If anything, some conservatives, dismayed by such phenomena as the spread of pornography and sexual license, thought that we had too much freedom for our own good. But thanks to modern liberalism’s barely concealed hostility to the free market, not to mention the threat posed by Obamacare to religious and economic freedom, many conservatives are now echoing these libertarian arguments, if in a milder form.
Judging by what they say and the policies they pursue, modern liberals are not all that concerned about liberty. What they really care about, and what they assign a higher value to, is economic equality (as reflected in the now famous phrase, “spread the wealth around”). Yet here is what the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in 1976 about this very issue in connection with the redistributionist ideology then regnant at the United Nations:
And equality . . . what is the record? The record was stated most succinctly by an Israeli socialist who told William F. Buckley, Jr. that those nations which have put liberty ahead of equality have ended up doing better by equality than those with the reverse priority . . . . This is our case. We are of the liberty party, and it might surprise us what energies might be released were we to unfurl those banners.
Four years later, Ronald Reagan came along to unfurl those banners. And just as Moynihan predicted, the result was the release of new political and economic energies that reversed the political and economic decline of the Carter years and that led to our victory in the Cold War.
Of course, the party of liberty Moynihan was talking about was the United States of America and the party of economic equality was the socialist countries of what was then called the Third World. But within America today, an analogous split has opened up, with the Republicans constituting the party of liberty and the Democrats more and more becoming the party of redistribution. Hence the Democrats never stop claiming that the rich are failing to pay their fair share of taxes. Yet after surveying the numbers, the economist Walter Williams of George Mason University asks an excellent question: “What standard of fairness dictates that the top ten percent of income earners pay 71 percent of the federal income tax burden while 47 percent of Americans pay absolutely nothing?” To which an editorial in the Wall Street Journal replies: “There is nothing fair about confiscatory tax policy that reduces growth, denies opportunity, and keeps more people in poverty.”
Normally I would not agree or endorse anything a Democrat says, but I think Moynihan hits the proverbial nail on the head with this statement in regards to American Exceptionalism. Read that one part once more:
The record was stated most succinctly by an Israeli socialist who told William F. Buckley, Jr. that those nations which have put liberty ahead of equality have ended up doing better by equality than those with the reverse priority (emphasis mine)
Even Moynihan, who was a sociologist, recognized the need of putting liberty ahead of equality. In doing so, the nation had ended up doing better by equality than those who put equality ahead of liberty. Today under Obama, and I will go so far as to say under the other two Democrats (Carter and Clinton) as well, America is putting equality ahead of liberty, and as such we are failing. There had been a couple of times (from 1981 – 1989 under Ronald Reagan and also in George W. Bush's first term from 2001 – 2005) in which America was successful because we put liberty ahead of equality, but that is only 12 years in the past 36 years. All the other times (and granted I did vote for George W. Bush for reelection in 2004) the presidents put equality ahead of liberty, and this is the mess we are in now.
This also leads to the Tytler Cycle that I had mentioned many times in the past.
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.
"From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising them the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.
"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:
"From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into bondage."
There had been a few times in which both Reagan and Bush 43 have kept or put us back into the courage to liberty stage, but more often than not the presidents had moved us into the selfishness to apathy or even apathy to dependency stage, with Obama doing his damnedest to put us in to the dependency to bondage stage. The reason he has not is because of we the people and how WE maintain those traits which make America great and exceptional.