One thing most of us likely can agree on is that this has been a season of tragedy in the United States, most recently with the California wine country wild fires, and before that the Las Vegas shooting, and the hurricanes. Where disagreement thrives is on how we should respond to them.
During the presidency of Barack Obama our government took a sharp turn to the left, a dramatic increase in the much more gentle leftward drift it has been in for a long time. The election of Donald Trump was in large measure a backlash against Obama’s socialistic ideas, the Democrats’ abandonment of many of the values normal Americans observe, and the prospect of more of the same from Hillary Clinton.
So the voter’s said a loud “No!” to continuing the leftist governance of the Democrats by electing a Republican president and giving the GOP control of both houses of Congress. Unfortunately, what should have been a concentrated effort to start restoring Constitutional government has been put on hold by an obstinate faction of Republicans, some of whom have fallen victim to their own liberal impulses, and others who have let their egos overpower their sense of duty to their constituents, and have given in to hurt feelings in reaction to Donald Trump’s tweeting addiction, which too often gets personal.
If there is good news in this scenario for traditional Americans it is that the Trump presidency is not quite a year old, and there is time for both Trump and many Congressional Republicans to put these personal feelings behind them and get important things done.
But a sense of urgency about the Republican failures is certainly justified. A recent poll shows that a disturbing percentage of millennials would support an openly socialist candidate who follows in the misguided footsteps of Obama and company, precisely the opposite of what our country needs. If their voter participation rate increases, they could add significant support for socialist government, so Republicans had better get busy undoing the socialist initiatives and returning our government to its traditional, constitutional orientation.
Perhaps a lesson in what happens to good people when they are forced to live under the leftist, socialist prescription for governance will help, and there is probably no better example than that of Venezuela.
“As with all socialist systems, present-day Venezuela is marked by vicious poverty and a parasitical yet gilded ruling class,” wrote the President of The Mises Institute, Jeff Deist. In “The Austrian,” the Institute’s bi-monthly periodical, he wrote, “Sold to gullible Westerners as egalitarianism and concern for average people, socialism always makes ordinary citizens far worse off while destroying any hope for upward mobility. It is truly the ideology of the 1 percent.”
Economist and philosopher Ludwig von Mises, after whom the Institute is named, said this about socialism in his treatise “Human Action”: “In a socialist economy it is only the government’s value judgments that count, and the people are deprived of any means of making their own value judgments prevail.”
Raphael A. Acevedo and Luis B. Cirocco are Venezuelans who participated in this year’s Mises University at the Institute as presenters on the subject of socialism’s impact on the lives of their country’s citizens. They wrote an account of Venezuela’s slide from relative freedom to a socialist hellhole for the current issue of “The Austrian.”
A hundred years ago the country began a lucrative period when it entered the international oil race, Acevedo and Cirocco write, and things were pretty good for a while, with not much government control of economic interests. It even overthrew a dictator and became a democracy in 1958.
However, the first democratically elected president, Romulo Betancourt, was a communist-turned-social democrat, and “he started destroying the economic institutions we had by implementing price controls, rent controls and other regulations we hadn’t had before,” they said, and then he created a new constitution hostile to private property.
Betancourt’s successors continued his socialist tendencies, and then in 1998 Hugo Chavez won election, promising to replace the country’s light socialism with more radical socialism. After Chavez’s death in 2013, Nicholas Maduro followed, and introduced a new constitution, which almost totally abolished private property.
“So, socialism is the cause of the Venezuelan misery,” Acevedo and Cirocco write. “Venezuelans are starving, eating garbage, losing weight. Children are malnourished. Anyone in Venezuela would be happy to eat out of America’s trashcans. It would be considered gourmet.”
And their summary of the country’s downfall: “As Venezuelans, our poor understanding of the importance of freedom and free markets has created our current disaster.”
We Americans have lost much of our freedom to government over the decades, and that increased substantially during the tragic Obama years.
Today we find that heavy federal intrusions in the area of healthcare through regulation and Obamacare raise prices and reduce access; the EPA’s regulatory over-reach aimed at killing the coal industry put thousands out of work; abundant welfare programs dampen the normal tendency of people to take care of themselves; the federal government controls much of K-12 education through financial “incentives” and Common Core requirements.
Republicans can and must address and reverse these trends. So get busy.