The Faster Government Moves, The Slower America Goes

Barack Obama met with some liberal bloggers and there’s now a transcript of the conversation available. Most of it’s dull stuff, but one particular comment from Obama jumped out at me:

I will say that as just an observer of our political process that if we do not fix how the filibuster is used in the Senate, then it is going to be very difficult for us over the long term to compete in a very fast moving global environment.

What keeps me up at night is China, Germany, India, Brazil – they’re moving. They make decisions, we’re going to pursue clean energy, and the next thing you know they’ve cornered half the clean energy market; we’re going to develop high-speed rail in the span of five years – suddenly they’ve got high-speed rail lines going; we’re going to promote exports, here’s what we’re going to do – boom, they get going.

And if we can’t sort of execute on key issues that will determine our competitiveness over the long term, we’re going to fall behind – we are going to fall behind.

And the filibuster is not part of the Constitution. The filibuster, if you look at the history of it, may have arisen purely by accident because somebody didn’t properly apply Robert’s Rules of Procedure and forgot to get a provision in there about what was required to close debate. And folks figured out very early, this could be a powerful tool. It was used as a limited tool throughout its history. Sadly, the primary way it was used was to prevent African Americans from achieving civil rights.

But setting aside that sordid aspect of its history, it was used in a very limited fashion. The big debates, the big changes that we had historically around everything from establishing public schools to the moon launch to Social Security, they weren’t subject to the filibuster. And I’m sympathetic to why the minority wants to keep it. And in fairness, Democrats, when we were in the minority, used it on occasion to blunt actions that we didn’t think were appropriate by the Bush administration.

This tells you a lot about how Barack Obama views the world. In his mind, nations don’t prosper because of people, character, creativity, or free enterprise; they prosper because of the actions of the government. It’s really not much different than this comment,

Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive. — Joe Biden

Here’s the problem: Not only is that vision of the world — that features people like Barack Obama and Joe Biden running America like a game of Sim City — wrong, it’s absolutely backwards.

The more government tries to do, beyond a very basic point, the more it hinders a society. That’s why the Founding Fathers correctly viewed government as a necessary evil, why they wanted checks and balances, and why I believe they’d fully approve of the way the filibuster is being used. They understood, all the way down in their bones that the more power, money, and authority goes to the government, the less power, money, and authority the people have. The stronger the government gets, the weaker, sicker, & more degenerate the population of a country becomes.

You want to really make an impact in government? You want to really help this country compete with China, Germany, India, & Brazil? You don’t do it by giving more power to the lawyers, bureaucrats, and trust fund kids who run everything in D.C. based on what they’re told by whoever gives them the most money when they’re running for reelection; you do it by pushing as much money, power, and freedom as feasibly possible back to the people of the United States. That is something that people like Barack Obama and Joe Biden will never acknowledge because it would mean putting what’s good for the people above centralizing power in their own hands.

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