Freedom: A good idea while it lasted

Trump buying votes with other people’s money

By: Tom Jackson – Columnist News Talk Florida

A thought that didn’t originate with me — credit Andrew Klavan, the novelist, screenwriter and wry political observer — but that I wholeheartedly endorse is this:

Whenever the federal government expands its inventory of goodies for “the people,” it’s not actually selling, it’s buying. We think we’re getting something for nothing, but the real cost is in freedom lost.

Each new gift from the government arrives with strings: taxes raised, debt deepened, behavior modified — it’s all in a day’s work for our relentlessly creeping betters who operate inside the Capital Beltway.

We mention this just now because Donald Trump, the titular Republican in the presidential race, unloaded a fresh load of horse hockey in the form of a new entitlement Tuesday, and even those who ridiculed virtually identical proposals from self-identified Democrats in January found themselves thoughtfully stroking their chins. In other words, ideas offensive to the ideal of limited government and enumerated powers are just fine — or at least merit further study — when they come from our guy.

What was it Janis Joplin sang? Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to give.

A 11

The idea of sacrificing freedom to momentary convenience isn’t original to Klavan, either, but rather is an expansion into the real world of that pivotal moment in “It’s A Wonderful Life” when banks are crashing and Mr. Potter, the richest man in Bedford Falls, offers to buy out George Bailey’s building and loan shareholders at a deep discount. Aching for “cash money,” some of them are eager to sell out. George urges them to consider a higher purpose.

“Can’t you understand what’s happening here? Don’t you see what’s happening? Potter isn’t selling. Potter’s buying! And why? Because we’re panicky and he’s not. That’s why. He’s pickin’ up some bargains. Now, we can get through this thing all right. We’ve, we’ve got to stick together, though. We’ve got to have faith in each other.”

That speech, summoning an America that had just emerged from the Depression and a World War, seems quaint now, a relic of simpler, possibly irrelevant times. After all, all your high-fallutin’ ideals about jealously defending freedom and individual responsibility don’t feed the bulldog.

Instead, we are seeing in real time that Alexander Fraser Tytler, the 18th Century Scottish lawyer, judge and historian was right. The moment the people figure out they can vote themselves goodies from the national treasury, democracy is over.

Even Rush Limbaugh, it seems, has thrown in the towel.

“Do you think the argument over big versus small government is still going on, or do you think it’s over?” the former spokesman for conservatism said on his Wednesday show. “And if you think it’s over, who won?”

The questions are no longer fundamental. We have given up asking whether Washington ought to ladle out entitlements, or whether it has the authority to do so. That one gasped its last breath when Chief Justice John Roberts assumed the mantle, also, of Chief Legislator, rewriting Obamacare to call a clear and obvious fine a tax, thereby preserving an obviously unconstitutional law and prolonging the nation’s misery.

a 15

But in that one act, we were changed. We were no longer a nation of, by and for the people. We lurched, instead, into the realm of a nation of needs, wants, desires and comfort, provided by others, all driven by fear and envy. Hillary Clinton might be onto something after all. Even if she got the whole “deplorables” thing wrong, her other, more subtle and insidious point, is that the balance of Trump supporters are pathetic and pitiable losers who think they are not responsible for the course of their lives.

Poor dears.

For the better part of five days, I believed otherwise. Surely those firmly in Trump’s camp out of passion for his message — as opposed to those reaching for Trump as one does for a harsh antiseptic to treat a festering wound — believed he represented an end to politics as usual: cronyism, victim-mongering, vote-buying. Hadn’t they ridiculed Bernie Sanders’ plans for expanding postpartum care just winter? Hadn’t they slammed Hillary for promising to expand free stuff?

Well. That was then. This is, regrettably, now. And, playing his backers for saps, Trump has yet again endorsed doubling down on a bad leftist idea. Not content to propose twice the infrastructure spending Clinton has — to a half-trillion dollars — now he’s proposing maternity leave as a right. Six weeks to start, the sky’s the limit if it ever becomes law. All because his little girl whined, “Daddy, Daddy!”

As if further coercing businesses to conform to the federal saddle wasn’t bad enough, the proof of just how bad a plan this is is provided by the Huffington Post, which is upset because it proposes only to buy off women. Liberals won’t be happy until the entire nation comes to a halt with each new bundle of joy that makes it past the abortionist’s vacuum.

A 7

And what do the courageous conservatives who ridiculed Sanders and Clinton about this very thing only a few months ago have to say? They have to study it. They need to see how he proposes to pay for it. What’s that? He’ll wipe out “waste, fraud and abuse” in the current unemployment insurance program? Well, it’s all good, then.

First principles? Ha! Limited government? Screw Madison. Screw Jefferson. Get back to us when one of them gets a hit Broadway musical. We’re all hip-hop Hamiltonians now. We’re working toward “A more perfect union,” and “promot[ing] the general welfare” means any damn thing we want it to … so long as it’s our guy interpreting the phrase.

Don’t forget to listen to the latest edition og The Politically Incorrect Podcast with Tom Jackson, Joe Henderson, Alan Steinberg and Jim Williams. 

Veteran journalist and center-right blogger Tom Jackson has worked for newspapers in Washington D.C., Sacramento, Calif., and Tampa, Fla., racking up state and national awards for writing, editing and design along the way. Tom also has been published in assorted sports magazines, and his work has been included in several annual “Best Sports Stories” collections. A University of Florida alumnus, St. Louis Cardinals fan and eager-if-haphazard golfer, Tom splits time between Tampa and Cashiers, N.C., with his wife, two children and a couple of yappy dogs.