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The American Iron Curtain
Posted By Daniel Greenfield On November 5, 2013 @ 12:45 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 28 Comments
In March 1946, Winston Churchill told a Missouri audience, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia.”
Today a new iron curtain is descending. It encloses the small Missouri town where Churchill gave his speech and all the great capitals of a great nation. Behind the iron curtain lie New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and countless others.
It covers a million streets and hundreds of millions of people. Its shadow passes over stores and factories, homes and schools. It is not a physical wall. There are no border guards with rifles to shoot those wanting to leave.
It is a wall of words, of laws, regulations and mandates. The 2012 Federal Register had 78,961 pages. There are 11 million words of ObamaCare regulations alone. With so many regulations, everyone violates a few of them without even knowing it. Assemble all the millions of them together and you have a great wall that would dwarf anything in China
The American iron curtain is still made out of paper, but in time it will be made out of cement and iron. Tyrannies begin with paper, but end with metal. The state begins by imposing bureaucracy on a free people and ends by imposing tyranny on them. When they will not obey the paper, it resorts to steel, iron and lead.
Four decades after Churchill invoked the Iron Curtain, in his Evil Empire speech Reagan named the Soviet enemy as those who “preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, predict its eventual domination of all peoples of the Earth.”
“They are the focus of evil in the modern world,” he said.
That is the struggle now before us.
Conservatives have lost the ability to lay out the stakes in the clear and simple language of a Churchill or a Reagan, to let the people know that they are not choosing between politicians, but choosing whether they will be able to have the car of their choice, the doctor of their choice, the meal of their choice and the book of their choice.
The struggle is over whether America will be an open system or a closed system. In an open system, you choose the life you live. In a closed system, your life is mandated for you.
In the open system you are in control. In the closed system you are being controlled for the good of the state and the five-year-plan and the policy paper and the sub-paragraph of the regulation of page 50,261 as reinterpreted by a Federal judge in a court ruling that you never even heard of.
In an age where the internet has proven the supremacy of open systems, liberals insist on pursuing the iron dream of the 19th century. The iron dream has failed everywhere. Its ruins dot the Russian landscape. Its corpses fill the tundra from Asia to Europe and the statues of its visionaries fill the scrap heaps of the east.
But there are still men who need to believe in the supremacy of the state, in the closed system and the iron dream; in 78,000 pages of regulations and all their millions and millions of words.
The American iron curtain is not substantively different than the iron curtain anywhere else; its descent is only slower and the men and women lowering it are more familiar. The politicians speak of American values and invoke American history even as they dismantle both; they stand in front of flags and speak of social justice at state fairs.
They claim that the old system is broken; that it’s unfair and unequal. They talk up the power of the people, but they only mean certain people will have power and other people will have the power to support them. And they build their paper walls higher and higher.
The laws are effectively infinite. Even if one were to try to read through them, going without food or sleep around the clock, it would be a hopeless task because no sooner will he have finished 100 pages than a fresh delivery of another 200 pages will have already been added.
There is too much law being made to count.
Laws are being passed to find out what’s in them and even reading them is useless because the added regulations define what the law does and judges decide how they should be implemented. Nearly 100 million Americans will have their health plans taken away because of how the regulations were written.
That is the power of the paper wall.
In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt said, “The great fundamental issue now before the Republican party and before our people can be stated briefly. It is: Are the American people fit to govern themselves, to rule themselves, to control themselves? I believe they are. My opponents do not.”
“I believe in the right of the people to rule,” he continued. “I believe the majority of the plain people of the United States will, day in and day out, make fewer mistakes in governing themselves than any smaller class or body of men, no matter what their training, will make in trying to govern them.”
A hundred years later, that is still the issue before us. Will we have an open system in which the American people govern themselves or a closed system in which they are governed by bureaucrats and politicians who promise to protect them from their own choices?
America has been moving toward the closed system whose bureaucratic chains come wrapped in populist rhetoric, whose power plays take the moral high ground for the oppressed and whose worst abuses are kept out of the headlines.
Each generation has less freedom than the last. And each generation fails to make the connection between its incremental poverty, its incremental loss of freedom and its growing government.
The iron curtain, like the Berlin Wall, is vulnerable. It can be torn down when enough men converge on it. Its greatest strength is that men do not even know that it is there.
When Churchill named the iron curtain, he expressed a reality that people were familiar with, but lacked the words to describe.
The Communists had seized control of Eastern Europe through deception and double-dealing; they had promised freedom and delivered tyranny with the collaboration of politicians and media abroad who spoke of them as humanitarians. Until they were named for what they were, it was impossible to see the iron curtain and the evil empire that Churchill and Reagan made real.
That is true of the American iron curtain, which goes by a thousand names like liberal, progressive, humanitarian, social justice, equality, opportunity, reform… and 993 others like it. To destroy it; it has to be named.
People do not try to tear down a wall that they do not even know is there. It is only when they see the wall, when they sense its shadow over their lives, that they will be ready to tear it down.
Until the men and women of the open system come with a clear message warning of the wall that is being built around a free people, then they will go on losing elections and the cause of freedom will be lost, drowned in iron and paper.
Only when Americans see the wall from ocean to ocean, will they be ready to tear it down. Only then will they be ready to be free.
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