A week ago, Rasmussen reported that Romney had taken a lead over Obama--a narrow lead, but a lead. Then came the Democratic convention--and now Rasmussen shows Romney trailing Obama all over again. Pondering these and similar polls, our friend John Hinderaker over at Powerline put up a post this past weekend entitled "Why is this election so close?"
If John's post hadn't proven so cogent it wouldn't have bothered me. As it was, the post represented one of the most thoroughly discouraging analyses of the state of our Republic that I have ever read. The critical passage:
On paper, given Obama’s record, this election should be a cakewalk for the Republicans. Why isn’t it? I am afraid the answer may be that the country is closer to the point of no return than most of us believed. With over 100 million Americans receiving federal welfare benefits, millions more going on Social Security disability, and many millions on top of that living on entitlement programs–not to mention enormous numbers of public employees–we may have gotten to the point where the government economy is more important, in the short term, than the real economy. My father, the least cynical of men, used to quote a political philosopher to the effect that democracy will work until people figure out they can vote themselves money. I fear that time may have come.
I, too, fear that the time may have come. "A government with all this mass of favours to give or withhold, however free in name," wrote John Stuart Mill,
wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement.
Our own democracy, reduced to bribing us.
Talk me out of it--if ever you can, talk me out of it.