2012 Election Results: A Victory for Creatures of the State
The Progressives won on Tuesday.
I don't mean the people who voted Democrat who call themselves "progressive." Though they won, too.
I mean the Progressives who've been waging a century-long effort to transform our American-style government into a European-style state.
The words "government" and "state" are often used interchangeably, but they are really different things. According to the founders' vision, the people are sovereign and the government belongs to us. Under the European notion of the state, the people are creatures of the state, significant only as parts of the whole.
This European version of the state can be nice. One can live comfortably under it. Many decent and smart people sincerely believe this is the intellectually and morally superior way to organize society. And, to be fair, it's not a binary thing. The line between the European and American models is blurry.
The distinction between the two worldviews is mostly a disagreement over first assumptions, about which institutions should take the lead in our lives. It is an argument about what the habits of the American heart should be. Should we live in a country where the first recourse is to appeal to the government, or should government interventions be reserved as a last resort?
These assumptions are formed and informed by political rhetoric. President Obama ran a campaign insisting that Democrats believe "we're all in it together" and that Republicans think you should be "on your own" no matter what hardships you face. We are our brothers' and sisters' "keepers," according to Obama, and the state is how we "keep" each other. The introductory video at the
Exactly 100 years before
The chief obstacle for this mission is the family. The family, rightly understood, is an autonomous source of meaning in our lives and the chief place where we sacrifice for, and cooperate with, others. It is also the foundation for local communities and social engagement. As social scientist
Progressivism always looked at the family with skepticism and occasionally hostility. Reformer
One of the stark lessons of Obama's victory is the degree to which the
Marriage, particularly among the working class, has gone out of style. In 1960, 72 percent of adults were married. Today, barely half are. The numbers for blacks are far more stark. The well-off still get married though, which is a big reason why they're well-off. "It is the privileged Americans who are marrying, and marrying helps them stay privileged,"
Religion, too, is waning dramatically in America. Gallup finds regular church attendance down to 43 percent of Americans. Other researchers think it might be less than half that.
In the aftermath of massive American urbanization and industrialization, and in the teeth of a brutal economic downturn,
In short, the American people are starting to look like Europeans, and as a result they want a European form of government.
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