MSNBC has a roundtable show called “The Cycle,” one of whose hosts is a blissfully ignorant young man named Toure. Toure is very enthusiastic about the domineering paternalism of ObamaCare, and thinks we should have plenty more of it, turning in a performance Andrew Kirell of Mediaite describes as a descent into “self-parody”:
“Sometimes,” Toure intoned, “government must lead. Sometimes, government must demand people accept change they’re not yet ready for. Those are the moments when leaders with vision can change society and create the crescendos of history. In freeing the slaves, desegregating schools, enacting Title IX, and legalizing gay marriage, government led America into a new world much of the country wasn’t ready for, but in time, we adjusted. And this too shall pass.”
Kirell pricelessly responds, “Touré does realize that three of those four examples of ‘government leading America into a new world’ were government having to reverse policies put into place and enforced by a paternalistic government, right?”
Leaving aside the level of historical ignorance that helps Toure get through his day, his notion of “leadership” is astoundingly wrong-headed. Leadership is not an expression of compulsive force. Not in a free republic, at any rate. “Leadership” is the opposite of enforcing “demands” upon unwilling people, at the expense of freedoms their Constitution guarantees. We were not meant to be marched across those “crescendos of history” at gunpoint.
Early in his presidential campaign, Newt Gingrich made some waves by denouncing the notion of “right-wing social engineering.” Here we have a liberal joyously embracing the concept of left-wing social engineering, and indeed praising it as an integral function of enlightened government – commanding and altering the population, rather than protecting their rights or respecting their will. And Toure is right about one thing: the exercise of massive government power inevitably engineers the population, quite frequently in ways the acolytes of Big Government did not predict. Take a quick survey of the human wreckage left by the welfare state if you doubt it. Entire generations within dependent populations have been re-programmed, and ruined, through the power of the State.
Toure hopes President Obama will get re-elected and aspire to even greater heights of benevolent tyranny, in which he might “go even further trying to bolster his legacy by enacting new paternalistic mandates meant to make the nation better.”
Toure offers examples including the mandatory consumption of vegetables, mandatory attendance at college – “maybe liberal arts, maybe technical” – and mandatory public service after we’ve been frog-marched through mandatory college. Then our Dear Leader can arrange mandatory “extensive pre-marital counseling, and maybe even a review board that can determine whether or not a couple can get married,” before we start pumping out children to enjoy even more paternalistic super-government.
In case all this sounds tyrannical to you, don’t worry: there will also be mandatory voting, “because government works better when all participate in selecting leaders.” This is the perfect expression of anti-Constitutionalism: the government is authorized to do anything it pleases, according to the ruling class notion of the Little People’s best interests, because this ultimate power is purified through the ritual of casting votes every couple of years.
Paternalism requires power, which means it cannot tolerate meaningful dissent, and has no interest in securing the consent of the governed. You get to vote for the Supreme Leader every four years, and if you’re outvoted, you obey. The Little People cannot be trusted, so they receive only a few rare votes to express their will, and these “choices” operate only within a narrow menu of options presented by the ruling parties. Once an enlightened course has been chosen from this menu, participation is – to borrow Toure’s favorite word – “mandatory.”
This isn’t self-parody. It’s a warning, and free Americans would do well to heed it.