Todays word on the state of our state, our nation, and the world.
Mark Green, U.S. representative from Tennessee’s 7th congressional district, offers his perspective on freedom.
Mark Alexander · Apr. 17, 2019
“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.” —Thomas Jefferson (1781)
Editor’s Note: Mark Alexander has a family commitment today, so standing in for him is his friend Mark Green, U.S. representative from Tennessee’s 7th congressional district. A former Army special operations flight surgeon, Rep. Green offers some timely perspective on the emerging Democrat Party socialists. His perspective is that of an American Patriot who has put his life on the line in defense of Liberty and has honored his oath “to support and defend” our Constitution — an oath too often ignored by those in the Beltway political class.
On a December night in 2003, as the emergency medicine physician assigned to an elite special operations team, I had the unique opportunity to interview Saddam Hussein on the night of his capture.
Over the course of almost six hours with the reviled dictator, I was reminded of Lord Acton’s old adage, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It’s hard to imagine what has to happen in a man’s heart to blacken it to the extent of Saddam Hussein’s. However, a clear contributor was the lack of accountability, or as our Founders put it, checks and balances. Without that system, freedom was only a dream in Saddam’s Iraq.
The idea that is America centers on that word: freedom. Our Founding Fathers understood that with freedom, citizens are released to innovate, create, and expand prosperity greater than any other form of government. Influenced by the French philosopher Montesquieu, our Founders built a government where power was dispersed as much as humanly possible — a government where one person could operate independently of the other.
Thus, we have three equal but separate branches of government. Perhaps more importantly, we have some power enumerated in the Constitution set aside for a federal government, with the remaining powers divested to the states. With the freedom that resulted from this arrangement, Americans have created a prosperity unprecedented in human history.
Today, however, that freedom — and the system that ensures it — is under massive attack. Socialism is a system of government where power shifts from the people to a monolithic, centralized bureaucracy that promises to take care of its citizens equally. It is a system that ignores the diversity of the population and administers blanket, one-size-fits-all solutions to every problem in life.
Rather than self-organizing, socialism offers a direct and complete relationship between the individual and the federal government. And more consequentially, it concentrates power in the hands of a few elites.
Leftists are openly supporting socialism. With their “Medicare for All” plan, the federal government takes control of all health care away from the states. Power is concentrated, and freedom in the health care markets and freedom of choice are lost. The proposed Green New Deal seizes control of state and local government housing and building codes, and worse, a version of the plan even pays people unwilling to work a salary, gives them a home, free health care, and education.
Perhaps, in the future, your freedom to take a vacation will be lost to a tax that allows someone else to sit at home. The vacation you worked hard for has to wait. Socialism is freedom lost.
In what she hopes will be her crowning achievement, Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi introduced House Resolution 1 on the day the 116th Congress gaveled into session.
Usually the majority party makes whatever bill they introduce as HR-1 their priority initiative. The Democrats’ HR-1 legislation for the 116th Congress is an exceptionally dangerous measure to seize control of state elections, telling states they essentially have to conduct their elections in the same fraudulent manner as California. So much for federalism, as states lose the freedom to run their own elections.
Some might argue that as power is shifted to Washington and further concentrated there, benevolent leaders will provide better care for the American people. Assuming for the moment that our current leaders truly are benevolent, history has shown us repeatedly that without the dispersed power outlined above, tyranny is the eventual and inevitable result. And the road that tyranny leads down is dire.
We needn’t look far for a modern-day example of such tyranny. To our south, in the once-prosperous oil-rich country of Venezuela, we just saw its president block relief supplies from entering the country while protesters were shot.
Concentrating power into fewer and fewer hands leads to tyranny. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.
As it concentrates power into the hands of fewer and fewer people, it’s time we see socialism for what it is: a threat to the founding principles of this nation, a threat to freedom.
(A version of this op/ed also appeared in The Tennessean.)
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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776
Rich Lowry · Apr. 22, 2019
There was Bernie Sanders at a Fox News Channel town hall, not giving an inch in a forum every Democratic presidential candidate has shunned.
His reward was a cataract of good reviews, and monster ratings. Sanders had a solid hour to try to reach people not favorably inclined to his worldview, at the very least demonstrating that he’s willing to show up outside his political silo.
Why hadn’t any of the other Democrats done it before? Because they lacked the verve and ideological self-confidence of Sanders, as well as the independent streak to buck the Democratic Party’s attempt to hold the line against Fox. As a message candidate, Sanders is willing to take his anywhere.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, miraculously transformed into a relatively moderate Democratic elder stateswoman, has understandably been pushing back against the notion that she leads a socialist party defined by a few radicals in the House.
On “60 Minutes,” she stalwartly declared: “I do reject socialism as a economic system. If people have that view, that’s their view. That is not the view of the Democratic Party.” She dismissed the left wing in her caucus as “like, five people.”
In sheer numbers this is true, but it’s the wrong way to count.
The fact is that the most compelling stars of the party are self-declared socialists with a knack for generating controversy and media attention, and with committed mass followings. Pelosi might wish it weren’t true, but poll numbers, fundraising and follower counts don’t lie.
Sanders is reliably second — sometimes first — in national and state presidential polling. He’s outraised everyone else in the field and, with his massive small-donor base, probably can continue to do so for the duration. More than anyone else, he has defined the Democratic Party’s current agenda.
It’ll be much harder to maintain that the Democratic Party isn’t socialist if it nominates one as its presidential candidate, which everyone paying attention realizes is a real possibility.
If this happens, it won’t be the work of conservatives hoping to negatively brand the Democrats, but of the party’s faithful. The same goes for the prominence of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It is often said that conservatives are “obsessed” with her; maybe so, but the same is true — and probably more so — of everyone else.
AOC has been on the cover of Time magazine, Rolling Stone (with Nancy Pelosi, as it happens), Hollywood Reporter and Bloomberg Businessweek. Annie Leibovitz photographed her for Vogue. She’s been interviewed by “60 Minutes.”
She has nearly 4 million Twitter followers, and more than 3 million followers on Instagram, where she feeds the insatiable obsession of her fans — not her critics — with videos from her apartment.
She was among the top 10 House Democrats in fundraising the first quarter, and had the highest percentage of small donors (her ally, Ilhan Omar, also excelled).
It’s obviously vexing to Pelosi to see a House majority built by the careful avoidance of ideological extravagance and won in marginal districts hijacked, at least in terms of public attention, by a few freshmen and a 77-year-old Vermont socialist.
They might not define the center of gravity of the party at the moment, and the radical freshmen have lost most of their tussles with Pelosi. But there is a reason that they are so famous, with such fundraising prowess. The crusading purity of Bernie Sanders has an inherent appeal, and the outrageousness of the freshmen attracts attention, which always begets more attention.
Yes, there are vast numbers of Democrats out there who aren’t on Twitter or Instagram. Maybe there are enough of them to nominate Joe Biden, or a Pete Buttigieg can win on a progressive platform clothed in a moderate demeanor.
But the party’s stars will have something to say about it. The great Zionist Theodor Herzl maintained, “It is the simple and fantastic which leads men.” As Bernie Sanders showed, it’s also willing to go on Fox News.