It Can Happen Here

January 21st, 2010

By Brianna Aubin

Right now, a lot of people are celebrating that Scott Brown was elected to the Senate in Massachusetts, thereby breaking the supermajority of the Senate Democrats who seem so utterly determined to shove “reform” down our throats whether we want it or not.  These people span many viewpoints and both sides of the aisle.  For example, Group A is celebrating because they really didn’t want any of the things Washington is trying to push through and are correspondingly grateful that Brown will help block them.  Group B is celebrating because although they share the Democrat’s aims, they do not approve of their methods.  Group C is celebrating because they think that the Democrats haven’t taken their supermajority far enough in attempting to accomplish these aims, and that they therefore deserve this resultant smack-down.  And finally the smallest group, Group D, is celebrating for the simple reason that Martha Coakley was, quite frankly, an incompetent fool who didn’t give a fig leaf for the people of Massachusetts.

But while Group D is simply happy that they won’t have to deal with Coakley in the Senate seat, Groups A through C are focusing on wider issues than simply what is going on in the state of Massachusetts.  And each of these groups will be taking a different lesson from this campaign.  Those are, in reverse order:

Group C:  “This will teach the Democrats to betray the progressive agenda.”

Group B:  “The Democrats are trying to do what’s best, but the way they’ve been going about it is terrible.  This will teach the Democrats to play fair, work with the other side, and not go against the wishes of the American people.”

Group A:  “This will teach the Democrats that whatever supposed ‘injustice’ the academics, the media, the celebrities and the college kids are dumb enough to whine and moan about, the majority of the American people will never vote for socialized health care or socialism.”

Now while Group C is dangerous in the sense that what they want would ultimately destroy America as a nation, they’re not really all that much of a threat for exactly the reason that Group A states; the majority of the American people are not socialists and will never vote for socialism.  However, to that message I would like to add a personal caveat: the American people will never vote for socialism, provided they are aware of the fact that it is socialism they are voting for. When openly confronted with socialism they have usually rejected it with both hands, the only exceptions being when they felt the nation was in some sort of crisis such as WWI or the Great Depression.  This is because, at the very core of the ideas and principles that shape America is the implicit assumption that every individual should be treated as an end in himself.  But because this view has for the most part always gone unidentified as an explicit philosophical premise, America has spent a good portion of the last century not always knowing when not to vote for socialism, because they were not always aware of whether or not a policy was socialist.

In history class, we are taught that while third parties have always played a minor role in American politics when it came to supplying elected officials, they have played a major role in the sense that opinions adopted by third parties which receive significant minority support are often adopted into the major parties as a result.  And it has been exactly through this method that America has spent much of the last century sliding by default into a state that is, while not yet explicitly socialist or even anywhere close to full-blown socialism, is still so much closer to socialism than the America of a century ago that Americans from that time would probably not recognize the political landscape of this one.  For example, 100 years ago…

  • many Americans would not have voted for a central bank.
  • most Americans would not have voted for any income tax, let alone a progressive one.
  • almost no American would have voted for Social Security.
  • almost no Americans would have voted for Medicare or Medicaid.
  • no American would have approved of the majority of today’s federal departments and agencies, and every single American would have viewed our current extensive array of federal departments and agencies as a sign that the country had lost its collective mind.
  • no American would have voted for any of the industry or bank bailouts that have been occurring for decades now and which have recently become endemic.

In short, despite the claim of the Group A folks that the American people would never vote for socialism or anything like socialism, the country as a whole has in fact spent a good deal of the last century slowly sliding towards just that.  American opinion is usually viewed as a pendulum swinging back and forth across a static center, but what it should really be viewed as is a pendulum loaded on a cart that is being pulled towards the left at the rate of one inch per year.  Sometimes the people pulling the cart make a foolish move by pushing too fast or pulling too hard, at which point Group A wakes up, notices and cries, “Hey, stop!”  But once they have been reassured by the steady but illusory backswing of the pendulum, this silent majority usually goes back to sleep, satisfied that they have returned to where they were and completely unaware of the fact that while they were busy arguing, the cart slipped forward another inch.

However, the real problem with America today is not Group A, but rather Group B.  To any thinking person who knows the facts, there is no doubt that socialism and its brother doctrines communism and fascism are not just wrong, they are evil.  Too many people have suffered and died in too many glorious, revolutionary seas of blood for anyone to honestly believe anything else.  But time and again Group B is willing to give Group C the benefit of the doubt when they say, “We’re not socialist, we’re just pragmatic, progressive people who are trying to do good.”  The fact that the motivations of these groups are almost invariably socialist in nature (and therefore a path to evil whether Group C intends it or not, and it is true that they usually don’t) never seems to cross the minds of the people of Group B; they might question Group C’s methods, but never their aims or goals.  And just in case any of the Group B members are tempted to switch to Group A, the group who does feel free to question Group C’s motivations, they are quickly dissuaded when the members of Group C call the people who already belong to Group A evil, selfish, stupid bigots who don’t care about society.

Group C is the group that knows what it wants and is willing to spill all the blood that it requires because it truly believes that once enough of the class enemies have died, utopia will be the result.  Group B is the group that doesn’t know what it wants; it is willing to go along with Group C so long as Group C’s motivations seem pure, but it tends to drift away from the glorious revolution (though usually not to Group A) once it sees how far Group C is really willing to go.  Group A is the group that actually has some understanding of the issues involved and is willing to fight on the side of right, but this group tends to have a difficult time in America for two reasons.  One is that, like Group B, most members of Group A are really unable to believe how far Group C is willing to go.  The other is that despite their constant warnings, which have been increasing of late, their true predominant attitude about the country is that “It can’t happen here.”

Unfortunately, they’re wrong.  We fought fascism in the 40s and communism from the 50s to the 90s, all the while failing to notice that the chickens were slowly coming to roost at home even as we spilled billions of dollars and gallons of blood in the effort to slay them abroad.  We failed to recognize that it doesn’t matter whether it’s Karl Marx’s communism proclaiming, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” Adolf Hitler’s fascism crying, “You are nothing – your Volk is everything,” John F. Kennedy’s nationalism urging us to ask, “not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” Hillary Clinton’s progressivism telling people that, “It takes a village to raise a child,” or Barack Obama simply saying that, “I am my brother’s keeper.”  The ultimate implication behind all of these statements is not charity, benevolence, generosity, or goodwill, which is what Americans usually attribute them to, but rather the idea that although it is not moral to live for yourself, it is moral to live for _________.  Once we as a nation have accepted that fundamental premise, it really doesn’t matter what we use to fill in the blank.  As to afterward, while we might still call ourselves the United States on paper, the nation that will be left after the dust settles will most certainly not be America.

Fortunately, people are starting to wake up.  The Tea Party movement, and now the Massachusetts election, are proof of that.  But don’t think that the fight is over.  Don’t think that the progressives are now going to say, “Oh well, better luck next time,” and walk away.  Above all, don’t think that it can’t happen here.  Because “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” and there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence that We the People have been doing that for far too long already.

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8 Responses to “It Can Happen Here”

  1. Tom |

    Thanks for a superb essay, Brianna.

    The groups into which you divide strains of political thought illustrate a point that’s often difficult to deal with in normal political discourse. While it’s true that many people can be defined fairly clearly by labels like Democrat, Republican, liberal, and conservative, little room is left for those whose thinking crosses the conventional boundaries. They may be called independents or moderates, and the fact is they don’t always play on the same team. In reality, moderate Democrats and moderate Republicans (or those who don’t align themselves with either party) can on any day be found in Group A or Group B or, once in a while, flirting around with Group C. Party loyalists and political operatives know this, but they often forget to account for it. Hence, Massachusetts.

    One last thought: It’s difficult to put ourselves into the American psyche of a century ago. There has been so much growth and change in all respects that slow movement toward what we now think of as “socialism” has been inevitable and probably desirable. I don’t mean to lapse into Marxism here, but the fact of a much larger population living in a far more complex society necessitates change toward more interdependence among people and less room for raw individualism. I agree that change of any kind can go too far and too fast, but change in human affairs is inevitable.

  2. larry |

    Your article is beyond a doubt the best I have seen. You have done a masterful job of using your writing skills to create a picture that is easy to understand and is a accurate rendition of the state of American politics today.

    I don’t agree with Tom’s belief that the American psyche and individualism is gone and forgotten. Nor do I accept his premise that a movement in our country toward socialism is both inevitable or desirable. If such was the case, this president would have taken us there already.

  3. Brianna |

    Tom – Thanks for the compliments, but I must disagree with your statement that the direction our country is taking is inevitable. I’m not saying that human beings shouldn’t work together, cooperate, or help each other. I am saying that they should do so for their own reasons, undictated by government. I am also saying that we should drop the idea that government is supposed to take care of people like a hot potato, preferably before we end up as hedonistic, childless, and apathetic as Europe is.

    Larry – Thanks.

  4. Lisa |

    Interesting article. Someone could write a book on the evidence of the growth of socialism in our society and it’s negative impact on our culture and children, the future leaders of our nation.

    I think there were several different voices in play resulting from Scott Brown senate seat win. Yes, there was health care reform and all its attendant unethical bribery and behind the door dealings. There was also the Obama administration’s treatment of terrorists as common criminals while attempting to prosecute patriotic intelligence interrogators who were protecting our freedom. There was also disgust that there was an assumption that the senate seat belonged to Kennedy and should therefore go to a like minded individual. The people have a voice and they have spoken. There is a movement underway. Is it Republican, Conservative, or even Libertarian? Who knows but it is a right of center movement and the majority is getting on the bandwagon.

  5. larry |

    Well said!!

  6. Brianna |

    Lisa – some books people have written on the evidence of the growth of socialism in our society:

    Freedom to Choose – Milton Friedman
    Capitalism and Freedom – Milton Friedman
    The Road to Serfdom – Fredrick Hayek
    The Ominous Parallels – Leonard Peikoff
    Liberal Fascism – Jonah Goldberg
    The Virtue of Selfishness – Ayn Rand
    Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal – Ayn Rand

    I’ve read all of these but Hayek, but I’ve heard that Hayek is a big one on the list so I’m putting it here anyway. The best place to start would probably be with Milton Friedman for the economics perspective and then move on to Jonah Goldberg for a more historical perspective.

  7. Opinion Forum » Blog Archive » Never Forget (Update) |

    […] It Can Happen Here I pointed out that socialism, along with its brother doctrines of fascism and communism, have […]

  8. HDWrend |


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