Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
8:00 AM EST, February 3, 2013
I'm not big into conspiracy theories. I never bought into the grassy knoll in Dallas or the anti-Obama birther movement. And it will take a lot of convincing for me to believe Oakland Raiders coach Bill Callahan took a dive in Super Bowl XXXVII to please his friend (and opposing coach) Jon Gruden.
But I do believe that America's political tilt toward progressivism is the product of a lot of grassroots work by very liberal groups intent on remaking the American economy and culture.
One such example is the focus of an interesting piece in the latest edition of the progressive magazine Mother Jones. The article chronicles a December, 2012 mega-meeting of the left's most powerful groups, including the National Education Association, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Communications Workers of America and the NAACP. The agreed upon coordinated agenda: get (right-wing) money out of politics, fight voter photo identification laws, and re-write Senate rules to limit the use of the filibuster to block legislation.
Such initiatives are common in the Obama era, as the American left seeks to take advantage of a permissive, secular era in America. One major goal: redefine the relationship between Americans and their government. And this time, the line will be favorably drawn toward a more intrusive state.
Other relevant players are familiar enough to followers of American politics. They range from special interest groups (Service Employees International Union, American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, NARAL, People for the American Way) to super wealthy individuals stationed on Wall Street and in places like Hollywood. (George Soros, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, George Lucas).
That these and other left-leaning players were key to the election and re-election of President Barack Obama is irrefutable. Their members and money were in turn brilliantly utilized by a veteran Obama political team that now retires undefeated. (You might ask Hillary Clinton if you believe these folks don't play for keeps.)
But elections have consequences. And the hyper-progressive itinerary that Obama II and its associated interest groups bring to center stage now seeks to move American society and culture to the left; steadily, and permanently.
The evidence is there for all to see and extends to state as well as federal activism.
Read 'em and weep:
•a new federal entitlement (Obamacare)
•higher marginal tax rates
•abortion (and free birth control) on demand
•in-state tuition and drivers licenses for illegal aliens
•elimination of capital punishment
•repeal of voter photo laws
•women in combat
•expansion of food stamps
•diminution of welfare work requirements
• "clean" energy subsidies
•same day voter registration
•limitless unemployment benefits
It's a play straight from the Democratic National Committee's platform, an agenda that values collectivism over individualism, regulation over markets, and entitlement over freedom. Traditional notions of individualism, entrepreneurism, and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps are given periodic lip service, if at all. And it makes sense ... from the progressive's perspective. You see, this mindset covets limited economic horizons, energizes the redistribution of wealth, and generates the type of immense bureaucracy necessitated by the modern welfare state.
For context, watch (and listen to) the president. His rhetoric regularly celebrates big government, degrades individualism (recall the once popular "you didn't build that" narrative from Campaign 2012), and demands constant public sector growth, the better to spur economic activity.
The adherents do not pretend to advance balanced budgets or fiscal restraint. Rarely is their focus on private sector job growth or wealth creation. You see, their world is all about endless demands and the (tax) dollars required to feed them.
The good people who write the editorials on the facing page of this newspaper are wholly in tune with the foregoing agenda. They have opined as much over the last few decades. So, too, are the clear majority of voters in Blue State America, the formerly Free State of Maryland foremost among them.
But is America really on board? Is Reaganism now so 1980-ish? Has America truly become a center/left country on a comfortable glide path toward a European style social democracy?
I hope (and pray) this seismic shift can be stopped. How to proceed from the present state of things will be analyzed in next week's column.
Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s column appears Sundays. The former Maryland governor and Member of Congress is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding and the author of "Turn this Car Around" — a book about national politics. His email is email@example.com.
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