By Matthew Spalding, Ph.D. at heritage.org:
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending,” Abraham Lincoln once observed, “we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
I think we all have a good idea where we are. Where we are tending is a government that does more, spends more, and regulates more and more. Our politics is covered by an intricate web of policies and procedures, rules and regulations, driven by growing streams of money flowing from Washington to every state and locality, thousands of private and nonprofit organizations, and millions of individuals. As a result, growing numbers are dependent on government benefits and entitlements. The American people are becoming more subjects of the state than self-governing citizens.
In fits and starts over the last century, our country has been tending toward what Alexis de Tocqueville warns us about in Democracy in America: the soft despotism of the nanny state. “Such a power,” he concludes, “does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”
If you have any doubts about the possibility of this future, just look across the ocean. Europe is already far down this path, in a societal death spiral. It would be suicidal for us to follow that lead.
I would like to suggest a different path.