Local Elections, National Impact

Barack_Obama_playing_golfSpeaker of the House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics is local.” That may have been true in Tip O’Neill’s day, but some elections are decisively on national issues — and the Congressional elections this year are overwhelmingly national, just as the elections of 1860 were dominated by one national issue, namely slavery.

In 1860, some abolitionists split the anti-slavery vote by running their own candidate — who had no chance of winning — instead of supporting Abraham Lincoln, who was not pure enough for some abolitionists. Lincoln got just 40 percent of the vote, though that turned out to be enough to win in a crowded field.

But what a gamble with the fate of millions of human beings held as slaves! And for what? Symbolic political purity?

This year as well, there are third-party candidates complicating elections that can decide the fate of this nation for years to come. No candidate that irresponsible deserves any vote. With all the cross-currents of political controversies raging today, what is the overriding national issue that makes this year’s Congressional elections so crucial?

That issue is whether, despite all the lawless edicts of President Obama, threatening one-man rule, we can still salvage enough of the Constitution to remain a free, democratic nation.

Barack Obama will be on his way out in two years but, if he can appoint enough federal judges who share his contempt for the Constitution’s limits on federal government power in general, and presidential powers in particular, then the United States of America can continue on the path to becoming another banana republic, even after Obama has left the White House.

President Obama understands how high the stakes are, which is why he is out fundraising all across the country — seemingly all the time — even though he has no more elections to face himself. Obama came to power saying that he was going to fundamentally change the United States of America — and he intends to do it, even after he is gone, by giving lifetime appointments as federal judges to people who share his view that this country’s institutions and values are fundamentally wrong, and need to be scrapped and replaced by his far left vision.

If only Obama’s critics and opponents understood this momentous issue as clearly as he does!

The issue is whether “we the people,” as designated by the Constitution, continue free to live our own lives as we see fit, and to determine what laws and policies we want to live under.

President Obama’s vision is very different.

In his vision, our betters in Washington shall simply order us to live as they want us to live — telling us what medical insurance we can have, what doctors we can go to, what political groups shall be favored by the Internal Revenue Service, with more of the same coming in the years ahead, long after Obama has left the White House.

Critics who deplore President Obama’s foreign policies in general, and his weak response to the ISIS threat in particular, as showing incompetence — and who see his incessant fundraising as just a weird distraction — fail to understand how different his priorities are from theirs.

Barack Obama understands clearly that his ability to fundamentally remake what he has long seen as a deeply defective and corrupt America in the image of his far left vision depends crucially on having control of the Senate that has the power to confirm his appointments of federal judges with lifetime tenure. His fundraising is key to maintaining the Democrats’ Senate majority.

Foreign policy is subordinated to Obama’s overriding ideological vision. The president will not risk losing this year’s Congressional elections by taking military actions that will alienate his political base. Token military actions can minimize the political losses from other voters.

That people will die while he stalls on military action is a price he is willing to pay. His ordering thousands of American troops into Ebola-infested Liberia shows the same ideologically driven callousness.

The big question is whether those who wish to preserve a free America see the issue and the stakes equally as clearly as Barack Obama does — and see that this is the overriding national issue of our time, with our votes for Senators not to be confused by local issues.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas SowellThomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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One comment

  1. Mr. Sowell,

    I think highly of you and that you are an excellent thought leader but I have one question that resounds when contemplating what you were suggesting with respect to alternate candidates. Now more than ever I can barely tell Rs and Ds apart philosophically when compared to our founders. So if the time for a third party to make a statement and impact is not now, then when? I think your case could always be made using the issues of the day, so when would be the opportune time? I’m tired of career politicians and the status quo. We need to revolt as Thomas Jefferson suggested, though he suggested a much higher frequency. I feel the idea that we cannot vote for someone “unelectable” is self fulfilling and part of the reason we never get an outsider with a fresh perspective. Could such an outsider be worse than Obama? Anyone with a pulse and a memory could hardly do worse, and we are talking about conservatives. IMO the founders were extremists and their agenda happened because they made it happen. They could have bowed down to the status quo or compromised anywhere along the way, and as I understand it there were many such opportunities and incredible risk and uncertainty, but they didn’t stop. At some point we will need to have that resolve. When? Also, when better to push third party candidates than when faced with the most leftist president and congress in recent, or perhaps all of our history?

    I look at Ronald Reagan, probably the greatest and most effective president of the last 100 years and I can’t help but feel that he was forced to operate within the system, to compromise his core ideology having to simply chip away at some of our biggest problems rather than to make more extreme steps to take us back closer to our founding ideology. I think he was much more conservative, much more ideologically in line with our founders than most of the Republicans of today or his time. You can see his true philosophy in his pre-presidential speeches. It saddens me to contemplate what Reagan might have been able to achieve were more of his compatriots of like mind and empowered instead of governed by the status quo and the limits of a 2 party system. At some point there has to be a renewal of our fundamental liberties and candidates that stand for those need to make it into office no matter what their party affiliation or experience. If not now, when?

    Just like capitalism, let their ideas compete on equal footing and let us not protect the incumbent “Conservative” party just because they are the supposedly electable lesser of 2 evils. Let the free market of ideas work, and besides, just like markets there really is no choice, it’s just a matter of time. If the status quo continues I have no doubt there will be an uprising at some point, but it’s likely to be something much more disruptive, again like with markets. You can only use protectionism for so long, and the longer the worse things get and the greater the disruption when it does eventually happen. If third party candidates allow more Democrats in, so be it. The more they screw things up the more likely we are to have a backlash of greater proportions that would have the potential to roll back that much more of their insane policies.

    So how about instead of the default advice being to protect the incumbent conservative we suggest a similar tone but one that favors the fresh faced conservative? Let’s make incumbency the negative issue. Rather than blaming the new guy for splitting the vote let’s blame the old incumbent for selfishly running again despite obvious impotence.

    Finally, bitcoin. I’ve been studying it for significant time now and I’, convinced that it and it’s underlying technology, the blockchain, and derivative and enabled ideas like public decentralized mesh networks in their collective capacity will return power to the people, bring us right back to a truly free market and correct many of the ills of the past century of creeping socialism and federal power. I for one am very optimistic about the future. which helps me to not worry as much about the outcome of individual election cycles. Let more liberals screw things up and let the Republicans learn they will not be elected until they truly differentiate themselves from the Democrats. That’s a good thing. It’s my belief that neither party may be that relevant in the near future when people take back their liberty and break the chains of soul crushing creeping federal power via the very disruptive technology that is just now emerging on the back of the prior most disruptive technology, the internet.

    I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this subject.