Was the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States a bridge too far for the socialist movement? Since the beginning of our Republic, the political struggle has been between a liberal big government and a conservative limited government. The early contests were between the federalists led by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams and the republicans led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
The federalists won the first round by winning the Presidency and both houses of Congress in 1796. Jefferson won the second round by battling them from his position as President of the Senate and then defeating them in the election of 1800, which he referred to as the revolution of 1800. In a letter to Judge Roan dated September 6, 1819 he writes,
“I had read in the Enquirer, and with great approbation, the pieces signed Hampden, and have read them again with redoubled approbation in the copies you have been so kind as to send me. I subscribe to every tittle of them. They contain the true principles of the revolution of 1800, for that was as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form; not effected indeed by the sword, as that, but by the rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage of the people. The nation declared its will by dismissing functionaries of one principle (federalism), and electing those of another (republicanism), in the two branches, executive and legislative, submitted to their election.”
The principle of government Jefferson referred to was the principle of a federation of independent and sovereign states united under a federal government of limited size with enumerated powers versus a consolidated government with all power residing in a national capitol.
A quarter-century later, Jefferson, looking back on his years of public service, writing in a petition to the Virginia Legislature, described this episode in his career as “the most important in its consequences, of any transaction in any portion of my life;” While the federalists ceased to exist as an organized party by 1824, their influence has continued down through history. The Supreme Court more or less kept them in check until the influence of European socialism began to gain a foothold in America during the twentieth century.
Their ultimate goal and their political tactics have remained steady for over two hundred years. Their aim is to consolidate state government powers under the control of Washington. Since Roosevelt, their techniques for gaining power have changed little. The method used is to exaggerate problems into crises and use them to expand the power of the federal government. The Recession of 1930-31 that Roosevelt turned into the Great Depression and then used it to expand government power more than at any other time in history provided the template for all future expansions.
Economic cycles, crime, drugs, communism, wars, and other chronic problems of society have been used to diminish liberty and increase government power. The two most recent examples are the changing weather patterns and the economy. The slogan for democratic campaigns is consistently “the worst economy since the Great Depression”. This theme is carried on year after year regardless of the economic facts. Unrelenting pressure is kept on the institutions of our society combined with the unremitting propaganda from the left to gain one incremental step at a time.
Incrementalism has been the hallmark of the socialist movement for the past century. As the American people become more accustomed to the small changes that occur over time, they pay less attention to their disappearing liberties. The election of 2008 was perhaps the most monumental since the revolution of 1800. The socialist movement abandoned its past practice of incremental advances and decided to go for “the whole enchilada” with the candidacy of Barack Obama.
I fear those who cling to the hope that Obama will govern from the center are in for a major disappointment. He was elected to bring about radical socialistic changes in the American system and everything in his rhetoric prior to the election and everything in his life experiences indicate that he is likely to do so, his proposed appointments and modified positions since the election, not withstanding.
The best hope for America is that he will overreach to a degree that even a conditioned electorate cannot overlook.
As Thomas Jefferson noted in the Declaration of Independence, “all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, that to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
If Barack Obama carries into practice all the policies he alluded to in his campaign he may very well cross a threshold of despotism the American people will not tolerate. If so he could set in motion the same forces Adams set in motion in 1796 and the Democratic Party could follow the Federalist Party into the dustbin of history. 2010 and 2012 could be a repeat of the revolution of 1800.