It seems there is a longing for people to wake up and smell the history. Scott describes a new book by Paul Rahe that gets into some of the history.
In the early 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville visited Jacksonian America, he was taken aback by much of what he encountered. Nothing impressed him more, however, than the demonstrated capacity of the Americans to form private associations for public purposes.
Now, as citizens flock to town meetings all over the country to confront their Senators and Congressmen, we can see the consequences. And the White House and the Democratic Party have responded to the spontaneous organization of opposition to their endeavors in a manner that is reminiscent of the governments in Tocqueville’s France – by insulting their fellow citizens, by charging them with conspiracy, by locking citizens out of putatively public meetings, by bringing in union toughs to intimidate the opposition, and by illegally collecting the names and contact information of those who have exercised their First Amendment rights in a manner unfriendly to the proposals advanced by the current administration – apparently with an eye to future retribution. [Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect]
Mark Steyn reviews the book in the Criterion and a more pithy take is the column in the OC Register. Mark Steyn: Conformity is now the new dissent: Community Organizer wants to organize us all.
What this brings to mind is Godwin’s Law.A few years ago, dissent was patriotic. Those being complained about did not protest the protest. There is a contrast now. Dissent is no longer patriotic but rather evil. Those on the receiving end have mounted a counter attack and are hurling epithets and worse at those who dare to raise questions.
Godwin’s Law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation coined by Mike Godwin in 1990, and which has become an Internet adage. It states: “As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”
The question of concern is what happens next and that is what Scott, Mark, and Paul are talking about.
MORE: Dale Franks says A Fork In the Road is Coming at Q&O.
Frankly, Americans resent authority. We accept some measure of it as a necessary evil most times, but there are limits. We can be pushed, often quite far, but when we reach a certain tipping point, enmity quickly flares. We can have quite heated arguments as equals, then knock off and have a drink. But once we have a heated argument, then are forced to do something we don’t want to do…well, we don’t like it.
Maybe enough have been pushed as far as they will accept.