First, they came for the smokers.
No one would argue smoking is good for you. But it’s legal; growing tobacco is even subsidized by the government. Yet, when governments started limiting the right of people to smoke in places public and private, non-smokers did nothing. They didn’t like smoke; they’d heard second-hand smoke was dangerous. Why should they allow owners of private establishments to choose whether those establishments allowed people to engage in a legal – in fact, subsidized — activity?
Then, they came to “clean up” the healthcare mess. They would take the sick and poor off our hands. We would no longer have to join together as a community to provide for those who can’t provide for themselves; dear, benevolent government would do this for us. First, with Medicare for the old. Then, with Medicaid for the poor. Then, the definition of poor would expand … and expand … and expand … and nobody would speak up because who wants to come out against the old, the sick and the poor?
And then it wasn’t just the poor. It also was the uninsured. Some were uninsured because they were unemployed. Others because their income level didn’t permit them to buy health insurance. Can’t be for allowing them to just hang there. No convincing evidence they were dying in the streets or were significantly underserved by the healthcare system regardless of their health insurance status. And plenty had the money to buy health insurance and chose not to.
But hey, when you’re a Progressive, and you’ve tried for a half-century to take over health care, who are you to let minor details such as this stand in the way? And when you get your chance – so much disaffection with a spendthrift Republican president that Democrats could grab control of both houses of Congress and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, you grab that chance and you pass the most sweeping Progressive legislation since the New Deal – Obamacare.
And when the rest of us find we can’t afford our health insurance because of all the new requirements placed on it by our Progressive friends and their enlightened legislation, nobody can do much more than complain. Who defends greedy insurance companies? Who defends faceless corporations when costs finally reach the point where they drop their plans, forcing their employers into the Obamacare system where Progressives have wanted them all along, or even drop their employees?
The secret is the impact is felt gradually. It’s like a boa constrictor. By the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late.
Now, they come for our guns. It’s for our own good. Otherwise, we’ll have more school shootings, such as the terrible incident in Connecticut. Never mind the guns used that day were stolen. We hear about the need Newtown illustrates to limit weapons and ammunition clips that can fire several rounds per minute. We are never reminded the killer at Newtown shot 24 people in 22 minutes. Speed or power of the weapon was not an issue. One person somewhere in that school with a weapon would’ve saved many lives.
But most of us don’t think of those details, and we don’t own guns … particularly the geniuses in Washington who make these decisions. So we don’t complain sufficiently, and the Progressive agenda advances.
They also have come for the rich people. I’m not rich; what do I care if the rich get taxed a little more? Never mind that I might like to be rich one day or that almost certainly a rich person pays my salary. Never mind what it might mean to him paying salaries that his taxes keep going up. He is indefensible. He’s taken more than his fair share. Tax him. And tax him some more. And when that’s not enough, tax the rest of us … but do it in a way we don’t really see it. Not income taxes. Payroll taxes. They’re gone before we even get our checks.
If there’s one thing progressives love it’s a power grab in the name of “doing good,” and the “good” they most often wrap themselves in is “for the children.” When they eventually discover the “good” they sought to accomplish by quashing a little piece of our personal liberty did not come to pass, they never reverse course and retract their government intrusion. Instead, they offer a solution that seizes a little bit more. It’s a never-ending cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies, a Yellow Brick Road that leads to an Emerald Prison of mini-tyrannies populated by a disconnected people who stood by doing nothing because the power government was exerting did not affect them.
But sooner or later government will run out of other people to tax, other things to ban, other choices to regulate and, like a caged tiger, it will turn on the hand that feeds it. It’s its nature.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t want his people to be fat. So he tried to ban “sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces” but was rebuffed by a court, at least temporarily. Progressives do not quit, or get deterred, when voters reject their ideas, what chance does a court have?
He’s now going after Styrofoam containers to leave a “better” planet for the children. This will lead to higher costs to restaurants, which will lead to higher prices for customers. Customers will ignore it or blame the restaurants. There’s always another kabuki dance.
What do the non-rich care if taxes were raised on people who were not them? What do those with health insurance care if government enacts a requirement that everyone who doesn’t have it buy health insurance?
Tyranny seldom comes all at once, it comes slowing, incrementally, in small doses cloaked as something else, something good. Each thread appears innocuous and unimportant but is part of a tapestry rarely recognized as what it is until too late.
You may not care about any of the targets progressives are pursuing now or in the near future, but they will run out of things you don’t care about before they run out of will to control. Sooner or later they will come after something you like or do. If you sit by do nothing as the individual liberty of others is continually limited, you’d better hope there are enough people left able and willing to speak up when they get around to you.
Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.