What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: J. J. Gutiérrez
Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, has now become famous for suggesting that a good politician should never let “a serious crisis go to waste.” Further explaining his remarks, he stated that crises are “an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Fellow Obaman Hillary Clinton agreed on another occasion, arguing that you should “never waste a good crisis.”
Such advocacy draws a clear and marked distinction between a politician and a statesman. Whereas statesmen will conduct their affairs out in the open, submitting themselves to public scrutiny and reaction, politicians prefer to work behind closed doors and under the radar. The things that politicians could not do before are those things that the public repudiates and rejects under normal circumstances. Only when dealing with a frightened and distracted people can a nefarious group of government workers foist their agenda on the masses.
Fear, of course, is the main reactive emotion upon which these politicians build their foundation of force and theft. A group of cowards is far more likely to submit to aggressive government than independent individuals, and so crises are lusted after by power-seeking politicians as the perfect opportunity to strike. So-called progressives continue to succeed in eroding liberty, as their countrymen grow more fearful with each new crisis and continually clamor for more government and its mythical arm of protection. This was observed in this way by Norman Vincent Peale:
Americans used to roar like lions for liberty. Now we bleat like sheep for security. (Norman Vincent Peale, via Quoty)
The simple fact that these agendas can only be successfully implemented during times of mayhem and confusion speaks volumes as to the nobility and integrity of their sponsors. Choosing to surreptitiously advance your cause in the dark of night when few are looking is the mark of a coward and a crook.
Reason dictates, of course, that any action that cannot be passed after debate, logical analysis, and a sufficient waiting period is likely detrimental to liberty in one way or another. In nearly every case, good legislation is not needed immediately. Rather, in order to evaluate all possible angles and ensure that a certain law is worthy of support, sufficient time for review is necessary. Barack Obama even recognized this importance when promising during his campaign that the public would have five days to read and comment on pending legislation before he signed it into law. Sadly but unsurprisingly, this is one of many broken promises thus far in his short time in office. It seems that he, like his cohorts, cannot in good conscience pass up a crisis.
Since bills pushed through Congress during chaotic crises are most assuredly destructive of liberty and its sister, sovereignty, one can easily and generally tell the motive and morality of the individuals vying for its passage. The so-called Patriot Act and the first stimulus are both excellent examples of this, since they were pre-written and put to a vote with only a few hours to read thousands of pages overnight. The promoters of these (and similar) bills realize that they have a short window in which to be successful, and that small time frame requires aggressive and bold action. And so, Congressmen vote on very lengthy bills they have never read, all because “something needs to be done”, and because they place confidence in the shady sycophants who are taking advantage of the current crisis for their own political gain (all the while claiming that the bill is in the public’s best interest, of course). Those elected to supposedly secure liberty thus legislate it away with a simple vote, not wanting to appear like they’re not working to help abate the crisis at hand.
It must also be mentioned, naturally, that the crises necessary for the advancement of these goals need not be casual occurrences of happenstance. A close observation of history reveals that governments have and do generate their own artificial crises for this express purpose. What’s more common, however, is the manipulation and inflation of a small crisis into a large one that suits government’s desires. An example: violence in Mexico is raging at an all time high, and drug cartels are waging war with a massive arsenal of weapons. Multiple people in the Obama camp, including Hillary Clinton and Attorney General AG Holder, have claimed that around 90% of guns confiscated in Mexico are traced back to the United States. The argument, then, is that we need tighter gun control in this country to prevent the flow of guns to Mexico. The problem? The real number is actually 17%. In this case, those who have favored gun control all along pounce on a small crisis, fudge the numbers and induce fear, and drum up support for their desired law.
The preservation of some semblance of liberty requires that laws themselves go through “due process”, allowing enough time, consideration, and thorough research of impact to take place so that the public may understand what is being done. Acting furtively in the dark of night during a crisis—so as to not let said crisis “go to waste”—is the method that conspiring individuals take to subject the public to their own desires, since they themselves know that only during such chaotic circumstances could they “do things [that] they could not do before.”
Justice Louis Brandeis once said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”. On the other hand, it would seem that a crisis is the best opportunity for infectious viruses to fester and spread. After all, that’s what these resulting laws are: corrupting agents that sap our lives and destroy liberty from within.