If you didn’t have a chance to catch President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address, don’t worry: you didn’t miss anything. It was a mercifully short 20-minute recitation of the boiler plate big government liberalism Obama has been selling for years. Here is a representative passage:
We have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
This is a classic Obama straw-man: the federal government is necessary for some things, like national security, therefore it must be in charge of everything. Here is Obama making the exact same argument in his State of the Union last year:
These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.
Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. (Applause.) Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.
Same exact pattern: invoke the military, which is one of the few institutions Americans still believe in, and then call for the rest of society to be managed by the federal government too.
What Obama fails to recognize is that the federal government is not the only way Americans work together to accomplish things. Family, churches, civic associations, businesses, even corporations — what Edmund Burke called the “little platoons” of civil society — are all ways that Americans work together every day without help from the federal government.
“No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores,” Obama said.
But up until the 1970s, the federal government had no role in training our nation’s math and science teachers. And since they started, our educational system, in terms of both graduation rates and test scores, has actually gotten worse. And aside from the national highway system, which is actually a tiny over all percentage of our nation’s infrastructure, infrastructure spending has long been raised and allocated at the local level. Again, why they need for a federal role? What is the federal government’s value added?
“Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time,” Obama said near the end of his speech, “but it does require us to act in our time.”
But how can we act if we haven’t decided who will do the acting? Either our nation’s health care system is best run through mandates and regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, or it is best left to states and individuals. School districts are either free to set their own curricula, or they must teach to a federal government approved test.
Until liberals give up trying to force all of these decisions to be made at the national level, expect divisiveness and gridlock in Washington to only get worse.