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America's not buying what O'Malley's selling

Max Borders at The Freeman has very enlightening piece on why progressive media outlets have gone on the offensive against libertarians.

Borders writes:

Let’s get to the heart of the matter: Progressives are afraid. Just when they seized the ring, their power is ebbing. Outlets have to make libertarian voodoo dolls so they act as pricks. But why is libertarianism gaining so much traction? What is the true source of the prog media’s fear?

He lists 10 reasons why progressives fear libertarianism.  I wont’ go into all of them, here but suffice to say, they do not bode well for Gov. Martin O’Malley’s nascent presidential campaign. 

Borders argues that as more and more Americans have become disaffected with the failed economic policies of President Barack Obama on the left, and continue to distrust the social conservatives on the right, they are moving to a more fiscally conservative, socially liberal and distinctly libertarian vision. 

 Progressives represent the status quo, Borders writes. “Taxes, subsidies, and mandates. Lather, rinse, repeat. … Progressives don’t want change; they want the same old things that don’t work.”

The libertarian vision of prosperous society is one of lateral relationships and peaceful cooperation among free people, whereas progressive technocrats view society and the economy as machine that needs constant tweaking, by the right people.  Borders says that society isn’t a machine, but more like a coral reef that thrives thanks to “billions of interactions, none of which are planned.”

Furthermore, the cracks in progressivism are showing.  Obamacare, which should have been the movement’s crowning achievement, has been a dismal failure.  Millions of Americans are losing the health insurance President Obama assured them they could keep, and they're encountering less choice, higher premiums and a botched website that cost half a billion dollars.

Then there is the crony capitalism of not only Obamacare, but also Solyndra, and all the taxpayer largesse for one favored industry after the other.

What’s more, Borders says, people are beginning to understand what is happing.

If all that feels like it hits closer to home for Marylanders, that’s because it does:

Governor O’Malley is a progressive’s progressive. 

His vision of society and how it should be governed is best described in his 2010 State of the State speech, which I called the Totalitarianism of One Maryland.

In the speech O’Malley said:

To the cynical who say government is not the answer, I ask, what then is the question? If the question is how to create jobs … how to get our economy going again, how to re-imagine what it means to be a Marylander in these challenging times, and how to create greater freedom, opportunity, and justice for all … then a working and effective government is an indispensible and essential part of the answer. But only part; for government cannot be a substitute for citizenship. It can never replace the power of the individual, the power of individual creativity, the power of individual choices responsibly and courageously made.

To which I responded:

The questions are infinite, as are the myriad human interactions of the marketplace of our society and economy. They are so innumerable that government, no matter how “working and effective,” cannot understand or should attempt to control. Like so many progressives, O’Malley’s concern for the “individual” isn’t about the individual per se but rather yoking the individual to the will of the state. It’s no coincidence that the individual is subordinate to the state in placement in that paragraph, for in theory and practice, progressives value the state above the individual. O’Malley’s conception of “citizenship” is bound together with his quintessentially totalitarian notion of “One Maryland.” Now let me be clear, when I say totalitarian I do not mean it in the Orwellian sense i.e., the “boot stomping on a human face,” rather in the holistic sense as Mussolini did when he wrote “everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” For Mussolini and his progressive adherents in America, the state is supreme and politics permeates all matters both spiritual and human.

 O’Malley unwittingly admitted as much in the speech when he said stated that “progress” i.e., his political goals require embracing the “power of citizenship” and a “unity of spirit and matter” to “advance the common good.” In O’Malley’s eyes the individual citizen as mere tool for advancing the will of the all encompassing state…

The state cannot “create greater freedom” it can only take it away. The state cannot “create jobs” without first confiscating wealth from those who first created it. Contra O’Malley, the definition of citizenship is not limited to the individual’s relationship to the state. Citizenship encompasses all the countless social and economic interactions between individuals and private associations outside the purview of the state. These “auxiliary precautions” as Madison labeled them, ensure “the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights.”

O’Malley is readying to make that progressive sales pitch at a time when more and more Americans are not interested in buying what he is selling. 

I find that extremely heartening. 

--Mark Newgent has contributed commentary to The Washington Examiner and National Review Online, and he is an frequent guest on WBAL Radio. His posts appear here regularly via Red Maryland, which has strived to be the premier blog and radio network of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the free state since 2007.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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