Thursday, March 25, 2010

14 Free States and the horde

By Bernie Quigley

- For The Hill on 3/25/10

Politics and possibly life and probably everything are a struggle between power and anti-power; anti-power makes power stronger until it overrides it. Then it kills it. With the historic health care vote this week the forces of anti-power have overwhelmed and conquered the American impulse to power. That is a good thing as we won’t be nuking the Russians now. It is a bad thing because we won’t be doing anything else of consequence. It is a marker, like Waterloo to Napolean, like Lenin’s black train to Nicholas and Alexandra’s Russia. Change has come.

Life in America as we have known it since 1946 is finished. Something else will happen. What is interesting is that this yielding was to internal American forces and not to external threats. It is possible to envision America ahead to be not unlike England in the 1950s, broke and broken, with cheap rents in Liverpool and Manchester, and the men with the “right stuff” on the docks of Liverpool who conquered the world in ships 200 years before, idled and impotent but with full healthcare. And desperately seeking passage to America. They had no where to turn but to America. Possibly we have no where to turn now but to China, begging for mercy and sponsorship. Signals from Copenhagen suggest it will not be forthcoming. As with Victoria’s England and the Romanov’s Russia, neighbors and opponents begin sharpening their swords when they sense mortal weakness.

At a high school honors ceremony last week a student said that character is not just knowing what to do. Everyone knows that. Character is having the courage to do it. Out of the 30-some states that have initiated states rights legislation last year, 14 differentiate themselves by bringing a Constitutional challenge to the bill. They have found courage to challenge a bill that has been in the works, as President Obama said, for 100 years. It is the 100-year ride of the philosophy of the anti-hero he refers to; the agent and agency of the horde.

The horde has won. The horde always wins in time. Fouad Ajami writes eloquently on the philosophy of the horde and there are a number of books about American’s pending decline, like David Murrin’s Breaking the Code of History and William Strauss and Neil Howe’s The Fourth Turning.

But these books and most books like this look at America as a unified economic and cultural matrix when in fact, the agricultural center of the country is a different America with different values than the urbanized, post-industrial America on the edges. The center, marked by the initiative of the 14 states, is alive and well with good values. It is the edges that are sick and dying.

The Constitutional challenge will likely not hold up. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned us that if the federal government became the sole and exclusive arbiter of its own powers, those powers would continue to grow, regardless of elections, courts, separation of powers or other much-vaunted checks and balances, says Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. But it too is a marker and has drawn new, original boundaries. This is no longer about Republican and Democrat. It is about regions. And the healthy center states must find a way now to protect themselves from the dying edges.

Incidentally, the new TV show “V” starts this month. That is what it is about: The benign takeover of America’s political life and soul by benevolents (alien lizards in Pelosi, Hoyer, Reid clothing), and a path to survive and defend against it.