"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, July 16, 2012

It Can't Happen Here

Sinclar Lewis, the author of Babbitt and Main Street and other classics of American literature, wrote a bad but timely novel in the 1930s about the dangers of a fascist dictatorship taking hold in America called It Can't Happen Here.   The novel follows Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, a charismatic and power-hungry politician, who is elected President of the United States on a populist platform, promising to restore the country to prosperity and greatness, and promising each citizen $5,000 a year.   Once in power, however, he becomes a dictator: he outlaws dissent, puts his political enemies in concentration camps, and creates a paramilitary force called the Minute Men who terrorize citizens.

Meanwhile, the Regular Son and Regular Wife and I have just finished watching the great old BBC series I, Claudius, about the tyrannical reigns of the series of Roman emperors from Augustus through Nero (including Caligula).   My takeaway:  the notion that deception, scheming, lying and even murder "can't happen here" in America is wishful thinking, human nature being what it is, and power corrupting the way power corrupts.  It has always been thus, going back 2,000 years and more.  

Here's my nightmare scenario then.   Obama is re-elected after running a mercilessly negative campaign in which he demonizes "the rich" and, by implication, much of white America.   He pushes us off the tax cliff on January 1, 2013, and, combined with defaults in the Eurozone, the oncoming debacle of Obamacare, and a recession in China, we fall into Depression Era conditions.   Given fifty years of victimology in America, a 15% unemployment rate is the trigger for riots and racial scapegoating -- there will be black-on-white murders and there will be white-on-black murders, and no one will remember who was retaliating against whom.   Meanwhile the real "rich" will begin moving assets offshore and the middle class will descend into a quiet anarchy, including massive tax avoidance (more massive than now) and gun purchases.   At some point Obama will declare a national emergency and begin ruling through fiat and executive order (even more so than he does now).   Imagine, for instance, an executive order in which Obama, in order to maintain funding for social programs at a time of high unemployment and low revenues (in part because of tax avoidance, in part because of a continuing horrible economy), declares that the federal government will confiscate 50% of all 401k assets, and 100% of all such assets over $1 million dollars, demogoguing this massive theft as "fairness" in taxing only the "rich."   Or imagine an executive order where Obama, rather than outlawing gun purchases (illegal under the Second Amendment), places a 10,000 percent sales tax on gun sales (legal under the now expansive, post-Roberts taxing power), effectively making legal gun purchases impossibly expensive for most people.   Or imagine a scenario where he declares by executive order, not just tha the won't prosecute illegal aliens, but that henceforth all illegal aliens are American citizens with full voting rights, demogoging this naked power grab as "fairness" and "civil rights," and labeling all who disagree as "racists."

It can't happen here?   I hope not.   And I still think this is an unlikely scenario.  But if we don't beat Obama in 2012, it becomes more likely.

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