Green Room

The Crisis of Confidence

posted at 1:16 am on October 19, 2010 by

In the first decade of the new millennium, a great crisis of confidence shook the United States of America.

This crisis has cultural and international dimensions.  The election of a supposedly “post-racial” black President was meant to achieve a level of racial harmony the public had wearily concluded it could not reach on its own.

We could see no remainder from the horrors of the civil-rights era, and public statements of prejudice against preferred minorities resulted in immediate exile from civic life… but the credentialed representatives of minority organizations assured us things were worse than ever.  Lacking the cultural confidence to ignore these voices when they degenerated into meaningless blather, Americans outsourced the quest for racial enlightenment to a politician, who the media presented as a kind of messiah.

On the international front, the American public was told its strong resistance to terrorism had earned the sullen resentment of the Western world.  Taking the United Nations seriously earned its contempt.  Faced with the aggressive confidence of the expanding Islamic world, the West began negotiating the surrender of its ideals.  The American people have been taught from an early age that freedom of speech is the most sacred principle of an advanced democracy… but they watched the institutions of Europe kneel fearfully before the threat of Islamic violence, and now their own “free” press has begun following suit.  Self-censorship is presented with the queasy false bravado of children trying to justify surrender to the class bully as an act of heroism.

Last month, the cartoonist who kicked off “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” ceased to exist.  The utter collapse of American confidence in the freedom of speech and religion was commemorated with a chilling five-word epitaph: “there is no more Molly.”  Instead of responding with outrage, the American media quietly went back to inventing elaborate artistic reasons for suppressing anything that might be upsetting to Muslims.

These cultural and international moments of doubt are symptoms of a more deeply rooted crisis of confidence.

America no longer believes in freedom.

We haven’t lost every shred of that belief, but freedom is not nourished by qualified, tentative faith.  The current ruling Party demands faith in the State, which necessarily comes at the expense of belief in ourselves.  When we expect the State to provide our sustenance, using funds extracted from our neighbors by force, we have broken our communion with freedom.

We have been presented with a gigantic bill granting the State control over our health care.  It was clumsily assembled, like a hostage note, using pieces torn from the Constitution.  Its many unformed clauses and unexpected consequences make it an open-ended demand for control: the government will assume whatever powers it finds necessary to provide health care.  The remarkable extension of waivers to select organizations, shielding them from the most destructive aspects of this legislation, makes it clear these will be arbitrary powers.  The State will not allow itself to be bound by any commitments.  ObamaCare is a demand, not a promise.

Accepting this health-care takeover is a concession that free people cannot provide such services to one another through commerce.  A system that was already hobbled and distorted by government intervention is replaced by one that operates completely at the whim of the State.  Health insurance used to be a rickety contraption of senseless regulations, constructed over a bottomless pit of liability, where vast schools of trial lawyers waited with mouths full of shark teeth.  Insisting on a more free and flexible system would have been an expression of confidence in ourselves.  Instead, we declared ourselves unfit to handle our health needs.  We didn’t even insist on reading the entire bill before it was fastened around our throats.

Socialism is a virus, quickly destroyed by the healthy immune system of a confident people.  Americans have long forgotten the vital importance of capitalism as the material expression of freedom.  Once they allowed themselves to believe meaningful freedom could exist in the absence of capitalism, they started down a road which led, inevitably, to renouncing their unqualified belief in freedom.  Liberty exists now in the spaces government has not yet chosen to occupy.

The upcoming elections represent a final opportunity for America to recover its confidence.  To allow the Democrats continued power in Congress, after the staggering incompetence of the past few years, would be a crippling blow to what remains of our esteem… a concession that, no matter how bumbling and corrupt these acolytes of the total State might be, their continued stewardship is preferable to managing our own affairs.  They have made this clear through the narrative that voters are too stupid and cowardly to appreciate their wisdom.  Anyone, in any state, who votes Democrat is accepting that narrative.

If you believe in yourself, you will command the government to respect your rights to your own property, and the wealth produced by your labor.  If you believe in your family, you will not suffocate your children beneath the burden of financing your security.  If you believe in your neighbors, you will seek prosperity in the free exchange of goods and services, instead of looking for subsistence in the promises of politicians.  If you believe in America, you will look around and see the same land where your grandfathers worked miracles, and wrote legends.  If you believe in capitalism, you will put your faith in a marketplace that works to win your business, rather than a government that commands your obedience.  Growth and innovation cannot occur without risk, and only people who believe in the future take risks.

We must resolve the crisis of confidence, right now, or it will be the end of us.  This Administration tells us that double-digit unemployment is now a permanent feature of American life, and our children will never experience the prosperity we enjoyed before the coming of Barack Obama.  I don’t believe them. I believe in you.

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There is a crisis of confidence, but I think what explains the Donks’ actions the past ten years is more the retirement of the Baby Boomers. The Democrats have built their entire strategy around the wants and needs of this most monied generation. But once retirement hits, incomes become fixed, and those thousands and thousands donated to Democrats and liberal causes would not replenish themselves.

The Donks wanted to be in as strong a position as possible before a good chunk of their donors decide to take the grandkid to Disneyland instead of donating to MoveOn. So the idea was to get in power by any means necessary, and spend the time in power frantically building up dependent constituencies who will vote Democrat without all the need to spend a lot of political donations that are about not to be there.

Sekhmet on October 19, 2010 at 8:35 AM

Surpassingly good piece. You should be writer-in-residence for the Tea Party movement and the broadest spirit of American reclamation it represents. Thank you.

rrpjr on October 19, 2010 at 11:54 AM

I would only add that the roots of the crisis of confidence are in a crisis of education. Two generations now of young Americans (at least two) have emerged from our educational system having near-zero literacy in the language and history of American freedom.

rrpjr on October 19, 2010 at 12:30 PM

It was a similar time under Carter (eerily similar) …and we pulled out of that, and we’ll pull out of this. We periodically go through …crap. Bleakness. Hard times.


We’re Americans, and we shall overcome. Again.

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