Tyranny by any other name
Sean O’Leary seems to fundamentally misunderstand the Tea Party. He contends that “while Tea Party sympathizers are fearful of incipient socialism, their counterparts on the left are just as fearful of creeping fascism … It’s entirely plausible to those on the left that there are economically powerful people who would willingly undermine basic political freedoms in order to achieve political dominance and commercial advantage.”
Actually, that scenario is entirely plausible to us Tea Party members as well. In fact, it sounds like a decent description of the cronyism and corporate welfare that first sparked the Tea Party movement, namely: TARP, the Wall Street bailouts, and the stimulus, forged by both Republicans and Democrats. Even the Affordable Care Act itself — the bane of the Tea Party — is less pure socialism and more an ugly marriage of government and business, under which every American is now forced to buy the product of health insurance companies.
Despite Mr. O’Leary’s “bright line theoretical distinction” between authoritarian and totalitarian governments, in reality, they’re both just different forms of tyranny. They both sacrifice the God-given, unalienable rights of the individual for the sake of some collective. If one views ideologies on a “freedom scale,” both communism and fascism would be at the tyranny end of the scale, while individual liberty and limited government would be near the other end (with the extreme being anarchy). We consider this a more sensible way of viewing political philosophies than the traditional “left-right” spectrum. Surely Hitler and Stalin — both tyrants who murdered millions — were ultimately more alike than they were different.
The reason this matters is, as George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” An understanding of governments throughout history is necessary to truly appreciate the unique experiment that is the American republic. Our founding fathers crafted a delicate but brilliant balance in our Constitution, avoiding either extreme of elite rule (tyranny) or mob rule (anarchy), and instead established the rule of law to protect individual liberty. Sadly, too many Americans today — from both “left” and “right” — regard our Constitution as outdated, and advocate abandoning its limited government of enumerated powers. They fail to realize that in doing so, they are actually turning back toward a state-centered form of government that is far more ancient, and far less free.
Todd and Jayme Metzgar