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Americans exited the 20th century the triumphant torchbearers of classical liberalism—communism on the ash heap, the era of big government officially over–yet by the teens of the third millennium we find ourselves rejecting logic and experience to embrace the politics of magical thinking. How did this happen?
First, consider some examples of the phenomenon. This headline from yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, for example: “Electric cars can go only half as far in freezing weather, AAA finds.” After untold billions showered on Obama donors far-and-wide and a $7,500 per car direct federal tax subsidy for the Master of the Universe with a yen for a new Tesla, we now find a flaw: batteries don’t do well in the cold. Who knew? Apparently, our federal masterminds never consulted any automobile mechanics or high-school chemistry students before legislating alternative-energy nirvana.
I hope AAA at least got a federal subsidy for publishing this earthshaking slice of common sense.
Then we have this AP headline: “Obamacare limits cancer care: Many of the best hospitals are off limits.” Could this mean that contraceptives aren’t actually free after all? Only someone blissfully ignorant of the history of state-directed health care systems could be surprised to discover politicians siphoning healthcare dollars from the seriously ill in order to dispense largesse on more numerous healthy voters.
But we judge “healthcare for all” aficionados by their stated intentions and not by results.
And despite the most brutal North American winter in decades, following the “sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950,” ladled atop a 17-years-and-counting “pause” in global warming, we are told by noted climate physicist and Secretary of State John Kerry that “climate change,” whatever the term may mean this week, is “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.” I don’t know about you, but I am more worried about Peter Robinson’s dog. You should see the damage Crusoe can inflict on a shoe.
How do magical thinkers deal with contrary climate data when not manipulating it (c.f., ClimateGate)? Inverting normal human reasoning is one way to get there. This Washington Post headline gives you a flavor for the trick: “A pause in global warming does not disprove a human role in climate change.” Well, alrighty then. Leftist politicians tell us that Armageddon is a scientific certainty unless we abandon post-enlightenment notions of individual sovereignty, personal liberty, and limited government to enthusiastically embrace the statist full monty, but the burden of proof is on those who resist fundamental transformation rather than those who propose it.
These folks act as if “scientific socialism” was something new.
Mind-bending sovereign debt—$17 trillion on the books with $100 trillion more in unfunded liabilities—is the new normal. As long as we believe that this is all investment, it seems okay. What could go possibly go wrong?
The problem is that we are living in a world where the average voter is more familiar with Harry Potter than Harry Truman. Mr. Potter, you will recall, can work magic if he recites his spell with the proper emphasis. In a similar vein, Neo, hero of The Matrix, triumphs over reality by expunging all doubt to embrace his messianic nature. The genre goes back further, but used to influence just a few lonely sci-fi nerds like me, not define American society generally. In the Original Star Trek episode Spectre of the Gun, Spock employs his Vulcan mind meld to brainwash Kirk and the rest of the landing party into total, absolute, unquestioning belief that an upcoming gunfight is a dream—a life-saving bit of mind-control.
I bet Spock could turn out some really convincing Obamacare Navigators!
This backdrop helps us understand why a conservative questioning a destructive fantasy—a Ted Cruz taking on Obamacare, for example—takes infinitely more flak than the liberals responsible for the predicament or the Republicans who go along to get along. Opposition destroys pure and total belief and eliminates the possibility of society moving as one mass and with one voice. Therefore, the very existence of opposition is a vital threat to statist designs. Conservatives have even been blamed for Obamacare failing because—wait for it—they oppose the law.
Resistance is futile, but only if there is universal acknowledgement of defeat before the battle is even joined.
Reality can be denied for only so long and “facts,” as John Adams pointed out, “are stubborn things.” My question: What will it take to convince our fellow citizens to embrace a reality-based politics once again?