“Remember Who the Real Enemy Is” — D.C. McAllister

 

Anyone familiar with the Hunger Games series knows this quote. Katniss Everdeen is about to enter the arena to fight for her life, but behind the scenes another fight is catching fire—a revolution against the authoritarian Capitol and its malevolent President Snow.

The tributes, chosen by the 12 districts to represent them in the arena, have one goal: Kill or be killed. Twenty-four go in, and only one comes out. Every year, there is only one victor. 

This time, however, the games are different. Alliances are being formed, as tributes who should be enemies are banding together to thwart the Capitol. Knowing who to trust is difficult, so when it comes time for Katniss to enter the arena, her mentor gives her this advice: “Remember who the real enemy is.”

The real enemy isn’t the people fighting with Katniss in the arena; it’s the bloated and wasteful Capitol, led by a power-hungry president who lords over the poverty-stricken districts according to his will.

Our enemy is quite similar. Too strong a comparison, you think? When it comes to our liberty, I don’t think so.

Some people might not like terms such as “fight” or “enemy” when it comes to politics; they prefer a more civil discourse as we seek to “work with our friends across the aisle.” The problem is that our friends across the aisle have been waging a war against the American people for years, shifting the role of the federal government from that of defender of individual liberty to manager of the economy, definer of morality, equalizer of disparity, and provider of security—something it was never meant to be. We have failed to see that this shift undermines the very foundation of our liberty, as government has become less about protecting people and more about protecting its own power. 

Too often, Republicans think the enemy—or the “problem”—is bad policies, overspending, high taxes, or a lack of efficient planning. If we can just get the right people to manage the government, everything will be fine. But the problem isn’t management or policies or even the right people. The problem is more foundational than that.

Overspending, high taxes, and inefficiency are mere symptoms of an underlying condition. The real problem is a federal government that has stepped outside the bounds of the Constitution, transforming into something it was never meant to be—something that cannot coexist with liberty.

Our fight, therefore, is not to get rid of government (because it has its proper place), but to reconstruct it so it fits within the parameters set by our Founders. In a sense, we are fighting for government. Good government. The kind of government that promotes liberty instead of undermining it in the name of equality or security. 

Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Our fight is for liberty, not economic equality, not opportunity, not security, not even prosperity. Our fight is for freedom—first and foremost. Why? Because equality, opportunity, security, and prosperity are meaningless without it. They’re leaves blowing in the wind. They’re only meaningful—and lasting—when they grow on the tree of liberty. 

Those who seek to increase the power and scope the federal government or maintain its size might have the best intentions for the greater good, but motivations are irrelevant when it comes to liberty. As Daniel Webster said, “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

We can learn something from Katniss Everdeen: As we enter the political arena, remember what we’re fighting against and remember what we’re fighting for. Remember who the real enemy is. It’s not libertarians. It’s not social conservatives. It’s not the Tea Party. It’s not Ted Cruz or Rand Paul or Mike Lee. It’s those who wish to be our masters. It’s centralized government and anyone who refuses to diminish its size and its scope and who cowers at doing the hard work of returning power to the states and to the people. 

“Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. “Public servants at such a distance, and from under the eye of their constituents, must, from the circumstance of distance, be unable to administer and overlook all the details necessary for the good government of the citizens; and the same circumstance, by rendering detection impossible to their constituents, will invite public agents to corruption, plunder and waste.”

Corruption. Plunder. Waste.

Yes, that is something to fight against, don’t you think? And what are we fighting for? Local governance. Civil communities. Free people.

Progressives believe we need the federal government to provide for our retirement; regulate our businesses; run our schools; dictate to the states about marriage, immigration, and drugs; choose our doctors; gather our personal data; waste our money on pet projects (like shrimp on treadmills); and put our children into debt before they’re even born.

Conservatives believe we need the federal government to provide for our defense, protect our borders, and regulate interstate commerce. Everything else belongs at the local level—closer to the people, where liberty and virtue are nurtured.

The main goal for the GOP should be putting the federal government back in its constitutional place. Whatever the issue, whatever the policy, whatever the program—that should be the goal and that should be what unites us. The tactics might vary, but decentralization has got to be what we’re ultimately fighting for. 

For decades, progressives fought for and united around a common goal, and they succeeded: Grow the federal government. Now is our time, if only we seize it: Grow state and local governments by reducing the size of the federal government. That is our common goal. If we unite and refuse to give up, we will succeed just as they did. 

In our struggle to save our nation and to restore liberty and the prosperity that comes with it, we need to remember who the real enemy is—anyone who wants to keep the powers of the federal government numerous and indefinite, and the powers of the states few and defined. If we lose sight of that, we will lose our country. We will lose our freedom.

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  1. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    You write as though lost freedom is a future prospect.

    And state/local government is no picnic either.

    • #1
  2. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    Great post. We get so hung up on promoting our own “book” — libertarianism, some flavor of conservatism, a Confession of Christianity, a region — that we forget that “who” is right is less important that “what” is right.

    Or in the phrase that we hear in recovery: “Do you always want to be right…or do you want to be happy?”

    • #2
  3. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    The real problem is us. We are the enemy. Our own flawed, human nature is the evil with which we contend. The political difference between conservatism and liberalism is that we conservatives recognize this truth and try to limit the damages it will create. Liberals, however, do not even acknowledge that it is evil. They celebrate it. They extol the virtues of man unleashed on his fellows, unrestrained by anything but another evil, unrestrained man.

    Reagan also said:

    From time to time we’ve been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?

    There are many days I wonder if Reagan was right or wrong here. No, I have not been reading Augustine today, but perhaps I should.

    • #3
  4. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    The enemy is all the politicians, of whatever party, who oppose reducing the size and scope of government. If they’re not part of the solution, they’re part of the problem, and we need to work to replace them.

    • #4
  5. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    “The Opposition aren’t really the opposition. They are only the government-in-exile. The civil service are the opposition-in-residence.” – Rt. Hon. Jim Hacker

    • #5
  6. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    The King Prawn:
    The real problem is us. We are the enemy. Our own flawed, human nature is the evil with which we contend. 

    [SNIP]

    There are many days I wonder if Reagan was right or wrong here. No, I have not been reading Augustine today, but perhaps I should.

    We’ve spent years removing quite a few of the control rods that the Founders put in place to govern our behavior. Direct voting for Senators, Prohibition, and <21 voting would have sparked large changes on their own. Never mind the income tax, Supreme Court interpretations of various clauses, penumbras, etc.

    People who believe we can pull off a sudden, sweeping change of this mess better be prepared for a long haul. Besides, to continue to reactor metaphor, that SCRAM didn’t work out so well for Chernobyl.

    • #6
  7. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    What Carey said. I’m sorry to say it but a Republican like Kirk of Illinois (spits on ground) is as much the enemy as Harry Reid. And yes, fight! Stop pretending the other guys don’t want to win and stop being afraid that they won’t like you or will say mean things about you, Republicans. Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Harry Reid- the whole foul, reprehensible lot of scum and villainy that makes up the leadership of the Democrat Party today- they hate our guts already. Time has come to imitate the action of the tiger [insert Harfleur speech from Henry V again]. If they scream “racist” call the Democrats “the political wing of the KKK” and point out their policies have done more harm to Black Americans then the Klan ever could have. If Elijah Cummings pouts about that, just remind him which party Bull Connor really belonged to and ask him about his own canine affection for the party of the Confederacy. Call Harry Reid out for his perpetual ‘2 minute hate’ against the Koch brothers.

    • #7
  8. Franco Inactive
    Franco
    @Franco

    Amen, sister! There is far too much complacency and long-range policy planning on this site, revealing a complete ignorance of what is transpiring now. No longer do we have the luxury of steering the canoe to the right by electing a non-Democrat.

    • #8
  9. Franco Inactive
    Franco
    @Franco

    Like Ricochet, America has gotten worse, much worse and it may be too late. I can do without Ricochet, but not my country. 

    No sudden sweeping change is possible, but there will be NO change at all unless we start holding all of them to account and keep electing the lesser evil statists with an R behind their name. 

    These giys have no long range stealth plans as some imply – the idea that we first need to “win” and then implement the mythical ‘master plan’ is fantasy. A Republican elected on the basis of his Centrist views is not EVER going to even see these fundamental threats, much less do anything about them.

    • #9
  10. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    I’m not sanguine that the system is capable of self repair at this point. In order for the project to succeed we must rely on a group of people to do a rather extraordinary series of actions:

    1. We need people who desire political office, who have that hunger needed to get there, soliciting money and favors along the way. We need people who crave higher office.

    2. Once there they must then dismantle or reform the very power structure of which they are a part, endure endless bad press about the “jobs they are destroying”, and sabotage from the bureaucrats.

    3. As they wield that power, they must not be tempted to use it for their own ends, nor to expand it for things that “seem right”, nor to abuse it for petty party points.

    4. Once their job is over, or have reached the limits of what they can do, they must step aside and not cling to office.

    5. Their successors must continue to fight that same battle, against the ever present and permenantly entrenched bureaucrat class.

    In short we need people to seek power, wield power, effect long-lasting change, then step aside.

    Realistic?

    • #10
  11. user_1700 Coolidge
    user_1700
    @Rapporteur

    skipsul:
    I’m not sanguine that the system is capable of self repair at this point. In order for the project to succeed we must rely on a group of people to do a rather extraordinary series of actions:
    [snip]
    In short we need people to seek power, wield power, effect long-lasting change, then step aside.
    Realistic?

     Well-stated, and eminently depressing, Skipsul. And not bloody likely any time soon …

    • #11
  12. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Hartmann von Aue:
    What Carey said. I’m sorry to say it but a Republican like Kirk of Illinois (spits on ground) is as much the enemy as Harry Reid. And yes, fight! Stop pretending the other guys don’t want to win and stop being afraid that they won’t like you or will say mean things about you, Republicans. Dick Durbin, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Harry Reid- the whole foul, reprehensible lot of scum and villainy that makes up the leadership of the Democrat Party today- they hate our guts already. Time has come to imitate the action of the tiger [insert Harfleur speech from Henry V again]. If they scream “racist” call the Democrats “the political wing of the KKK” and point out their policies have done more harm to Black Americans then the Klan ever could have. If Elijah Cummings pouts about that, just remind him which party Bull Connor really belonged to and ask him about his own canine affection for the party of the Confederacy. Call Harry Reid out for his perpetual ’2 minute hate’ against the Koch brothers.

     Awesome!

    • #12
  13. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    I love this essay Denise!

    • #13
  14. Yudansha Member
    Yudansha
    @Yudansha

    skipsul:
    In order for the project to succeed we need people to do a rather extraordinary series of actions…
    In short we need people to seek power, wield power, effect long-lasting change, then step aside.
    Realistic?

    I don’t think so. No one who can passionately and effectively engage in the winning and wielding of power will EVER willingly kill the Golden Goose. It takes a lot skill and drive (not to mention huge dollop of shamelessness) get there in the first place. When you combine those attributes into an individual, you get those who “mean to be masters.”

    I think the groups of people who CAN win and those that SHOULD win are mutually exclusive.

    • #14
  15. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    I’ve seen comments about restraining the size and scope of government. Alright. The fiscal conservatives have chimed in.

    There are some – primarily libertarians – who would bring the military back behind our shores and base them all here. It would appear that they believe we have more military than we need, and that military spends more than the libertarians would like it to spend.

    The fiscally conservatives want the vote to swing their way. I am a fiscal conservative but it is not enough.

    Reagan had the idea that someone who is with you 80-percent of the time is your ally. I am not sure about that.

    The past few elections I have had to find a reason, however flimsy, to vote Republican. I cannot vote Democrat, but… it is tough voting Republican. Enthusiasm is hard thing to come by.

    Mere fiscal prowess is insufficient anymore. I don’t believe that the innocent should be killable, so that makes me a moral conservative. There are lot of people who might claim the ‘right’ who disagree with me and others like me on this issue. But if we kill the innocent how are we better than the Democrats?

    • #15
  16. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    In my own small way I actually lived this:

    I broke the back of my homeowners’ association.

    I got myself elected president with the expressed intent of driving the thing under. It is now a dead letter, but I was astounded at the process.

    You see, only 20% of the people really care about having an HOA, and they’re a bunch of interfering busybodies. They protest at their neighbor’s fence, their neighbor’s dog, their neighbor’s work truck parked in the road every night, the “quality” of the neighborhood.

    These people are PASSIONATE about uniformity of mailboxes!

    They will never ever stop protesting, and they have momentum and guile on their side.

    They care enough to run for the petty offices, to go door to door just for name recognition, and to spend their own money campaigning.

    These people have no trouble levying fines and liens for unapproved swingsets, unauthorized siding changes, and lawns not mowed within set parameters.

    And if you let them hold even a modicum of power, they will tyrranize everyone else.

    Took me 4 years to break it by refusing to ever call meetings, but no one misses the blighted thing except the pettifogging irritating busybodies.

    • #16
  17. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    Death to our enemies!

    • #17
  18. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    skipsul:
    In my own small way I actually lived this:
    I broke the back of my homeowners’ association.
    I got myself elected president with the expressed intent of driving the thing under. It is now a dead letter, but I was astounded at the process.
    You see, only 20% of the people really care about having an HOA, and they’re a bunch of interfering busybodies. They protest at their neighbor’s fence, their neighbor’s dog, their neighbor’s work truck parked in the road every night, the “quality” of the neighborhood.
    These people are PASSIONATE about uniformity of mailboxes!
    They will never ever stop protesting, and they have momentum and guile on their side.
    They care enough to run for the petty offices, to go door to door just for name recognition, and to spend their own money campaigning.
    These people have no trouble levying fines and liens for unapproved swingsets, unauthorized siding changes, and lawns not mowed within set parameters.
    And if you let them hold even a modicum of power, they will tyrranize everyone else.
    Took me 4 years to break it by refusing to ever call meetings, but no one misses the blighted thing except the pettifogging irritating busybodies.

     I bet they like telling other people how to dress, too.

    • #18
  19. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister
    @DCMcAllister

    Donald–I’m a Constitutional Conservative, not a fiscal conservative so I don’t really understand your points at all in light if my post. Could you explain further please?

    • #19
  20. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister
    @DCMcAllister

    Yudansha—I’m not so pessimistic as you. I think there are still statesmen to be found. But we need an electorate to chose them. That means educating people about the many advantages to local government. That will take messaging campaigns and hard work on the ground. People like you and me organizing and bringing about real change.

    • #20
  21. user_928618 Inactive
    user_928618
    @JimLion

    Excellent article. We should find a way to work it into the GOP platform.

    • #21
  22. user_928618 Inactive
    user_928618
    @JimLion

    I don’t think she’s suggesting otherwise King Prawn. It’s still a fallen world.

    • #22
  23. Gary The Ex-Donk Member
    Gary The Ex-Donk
    @

    Well stated D.C. I’m getting a bit dismayed at how many posts here on Ricochet sound like a bunch of eggheads in think tanks bandying about so many unrealistic academic/theoretical scenarios that bear no resemblance to current political reality. We need to start focusing on the forest, not the trees.

    • #23
  24. user_294525 Inactive
    user_294525
    @ConnorDadoo

    Can’t sell it (liberty) to those who would profit from it most, because they need the other stuff. The choir will sing Amen, but to win you need to sell to those who should buy but cannot see the value of getting it right now. It’s like trying to sell life insurance to the 25 year old new dad. Yeah, maybe he can see the value, but that $X per month will cut into his already tight budget, come talk to me later when I am making more. What do you say to him? I would say to him pay now while it is cheap, because your inaction will cost you. Much as the Conservative movements inability to sell its principles. Maybe that is because they have been trying to sell the wrong thing, maybe it needs to sell liberty but by way of the other stuff. Want cheaper gas, food and more paycheck at the end of the month? Get you some liberty, but you may have to fight for it.

    • #24
  25. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Gary The Ex-Donk:
    Well stated D.C. I’m getting a bit dismayed at how many posts here on Ricochet sound like a bunch of eggheads in think tanks bandying about so many unrealistic academic/theoretical scenarios that bear no resemblance to current political reality. We need to start focusing on the forest, not the trees.

     I’ll try to be less eggheady, but it’s difficult to keep my superior intellect in check.

    • #25
  26. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister
    @DCMcAllister

    Connor–I think there’s a way to sell liberty to them without them even realizing that’s what you’re selling. I’ll be writing on this more in the future but I do think you can at least break dependency on the federal government, which will increase freedom. Localism is key and speaking the language of commumity building with its emphasis on diversity. The GOP hasn’t done this at all but there is an exciting new way to do it. Everyone talks about our need to be smart. What we need to be is creative.

    • #26
  27. D.C. McAllister Inactive
    D.C. McAllister
    @DCMcAllister

    The King Prawn:
    You write as though lost freedom is a future prospect.
    And state/local government is no picnic either.

     Well, we haven’t lost all of it, thankfully. But we’re headed that way.

    As for state/local government being no picnic. Of course not. All government is prone to abuse. This is exactly why the Founders divided the powers. Better to have 50 state governments and numerous local governments that are diverse in their successes and their failures, than have one government in control of the entire nation that is corrupt. 

    If you want utopia, you won’t find it in this world under any systesm. And I know that’s not what you’re looking for, KP, but we fall into that mindset as we start making objections to systems that are better than others. Perfection is not the goal. The goal is what is the best system to promote liberty and all that comes with it—prosperity and opportunity. That system is federalism.

    • #27
  28. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    May the odds be ever in your favor, Denise.

    • #28
  29. user_348375 Inactive
    user_348375
    @TrinityWaters

    Glad you have no influence on my residential property value! I live in a nice safe neighborhood with a minimum of nuisance because our HOA is based on the broken window philosophy. Don’t let the rot start. If, on the other hand, this seems too controlling for your tastes, then simply move into an uncontrolled rural area and start stacking up your refuse.

    • #29
  30. flownover Member
    flownover
    @flownover

    Are we ready to declare the accuracy of Orwell as proven ? The alarming thing being that we can identify the “liberal” wing of the democrats to be the bearers of this oppression (irony intended) . The unique nature of our national construct defies the old rules that followed revolutions . The French and Russians both consumed themselves with an inability to bring the sacred along with the natural rights of man as they struggled to find a way . We are blessed (doubly so) to have founders that recognized the source of these rights in a place unsullied by the additional oppression of the quasi-governmental church structures whose infrastructure included the monarchy . The more royal the rulers appear, the more tenuous the equation. Like the rulers in Hunger Games, the parallels to the White House party and vacation schedules are alarming and a strong warning .

    • #30

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