Cards On The Table

Yuval Levin has written an excellent, and even-tempered, response to yesterday’s unapologetically collectivist speech by the President. Levin seizes on what I also thought was a key point, namely that Mr. Obama remains frankly and resolutely committed to the hollowing out of the essential layers of civil society that stand between the individual citizen and the Federal sovereign. (Recall the chilling campaign slideshow The Life of Julia, in which a radically atomized and deracinated American female goes from cradle to grave in near-solipsistic isolation from any human interaction, reliant only upon the nurturing State as the wellspring of all of life’s blessings.)

Mr. Levin writes:

The ideals of the Declaration of Independence are praised mostly for their flexibility in the face of their own anachronism, as their early embodiment in a political order (that is, the Constitution) proves inadequate to a changing world and must be gradually but thoroughly replaced by an open-ended commitment to meeting social objectives through state action.

The only alternative to state action, in this vision of things, is the preposterously insufficient prospect of individual action. “For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias,” the president said.

“No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.”

The individual acting alone or the entire nation acting through its government, those are the only options we have. The space between the individual and the state is understood to be empty at best, and at worst to be filled with dreadful vestiges of intolerance and backwardness that must be cleared out to enable the pursuit of justice.

Read the rest here.

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