The president and his handlers tell us that government is the one thing we all do together, while Republicans leave Americans "on your own." The reality is that the liberal welfare state reduces everyone into a atomized individual, living a Life of Julia, because it kills the spark of life in the little platoons, the molecules and cells between government and individual in which ordinary people can find meaning and experience themselves as social beings.
Is it "all together" when activist Barack Obama sues the banks in Chicago to lower their lending standards in the 1990s so that millions of sub-prime borrowers end up "on their own" 15 years later in a maelstrom of bankruptcy and foreclosure?
Our liberal friends like to sneer at the American celebration of individualism. But they miss the point, because they cannot think beyond their own selfish individualism: its cult of creativity and its sexual license. Real American individualism is different; it is a discovery and a working out of personal responsibility, the kind that ordinary Americans discovered in the Great Awakenings of the 18th and 19th centuries. According to the revivalist preachers of the time, "when we began to teach these things people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages -- they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings." The idea of the responsible self had come down at last from the Hebrew prophets to the ordinary artisan rising into the middle class.
In Barack's America, it is always "they" who are responsible. "They," the greedy bankers, caused the Crash of 2008. "They" didn't provide free contraception for Sandra Fluke at Georgetown. "They" didn't save Joe Soptic's union job at uncompetitive wages.
You can understand the great cringe away from responsibility in our modern era. Responsibility and its social web of responsible association is a bridge too far for many workers and peasants quivering fearfully on the cusp of the middle class. Surrender your kids to the government's child custodial facility instead. Tell your girl-friend to get an abortion instead of marrying her.
But the present will always be waiting for you when you pluck up enough courage to peek out at the world from behind the sofa, and wonder if maybe you could reach out for just the teeniest bit of responsibility. Perhaps you can start with a trip to Walmart to buy their $9 contraceptives.
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