This sort of thing has become routine, but I never cease to be disgusted by it.
To begin with, there is one thing that makes America special — “exceptional,” if you will — and that is our system of governing ourselves. It’s not our amber waves of grain or purple mountain majesties, as fine as those are. And it’s not that we are some master race — if anything, our glory is that we are a mongrel people. “We’re mutts” as Bill Murray said in “Stripes.”
What we are, what makes us special is that we are the country that made freedom work, on a grand scale. Over the course of two centuries, we steadily worked to perfect that, and we’re still working on it, to our great credit.
Therefore I cannot abide this constant, incessant, dripping, vituperative hatred hurled at American government by alleged “conservatives” — or for that matter by “progressives” who want us to believe that the system is stacked against the little man. But the attitude that government itself, the very notion of government, is an evil to be fought, overwhelmingly belongs to what we describe as the right these days.
Is there plenty wrong with the way our government functions? You bet. But a huge amount of the blame for that belongs to the extremists who want to possess Washington, and have no use for what anyone who disagrees with them wants. Each side jockeys constantly for absolute control of a system that was designed to accommodate the views of all. And no faction has been as vehement as those who hate government qua government.
That’s our fault, you know. We, the people. We keep voting for that garbage. Which is our right.
And the garbage will continue if we don’t stand against it. Which is not only our right, but our duty.
Today, I stand against something I saw in The Wall Street Journal.
The piece that it went with was unremarkable, the usual stuff you read on the opinion pages of the WSJ, containing such passages as this:
So why is our economy barely growing and unemployment stuck at over 9%? I believe the answer is very simple: Economic freedom is declining in the U.S. In 2000, the U.S. was ranked third in the world behind only Hong Kong and Singapore in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by this newspaper and the Heritage Foundation. In 2011, we fell to ninth behind such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Ireland.
That didn’t bother me. Such assertions have become background noise. And while I object to the piece blaming government for everything (yawn!), I agree with the belief it is rooted in: That what America urgently needs right now is strong growth in the private sector. All for it.
No, what got me was the illustration that went with the piece. You can see it above: The shadow of Uncle Sam looming menacingly over ordinary citizens.
My Uncle Sam. Our Uncle Sam. The figure that inspired millions of us to take up arms, literally, against tyranny the world over. The greatest symbolic representation of the blessings of liberal democracy the world has known, with the possible exception of Lady Liberty. Being used to symbolize the “evils” of government. Being used the way cartoonists in this country used to use the shadow of the swastika, the Russian bear, or the hammer and sickle.
Once, Uncle Sam personified the very thing this writer advocates — America rolling up its sleeves, getting to work, exhibiting determined economic vitality in the service of us all.
Utterly disgusting. And yet, something that has become so routine that most won’t even take note of it. Which is why I just did.