Obamacare Has Awakened Sleeping Giants

| July 1 2012
Christopher Cook

 ”I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
—Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (attributed)

I remember the two separate days when my views on the political ramifications of the HHS mandate changed . . . and then changed back.

At first, I thought that such an appalling abrogation by the American government of its core duty to secure natural rights—in this case, religious freedom—was going to create a terrible backlash against Obama and the Democrats.

Then, L’Affaire Sandra Fluke began, and I was horrified (and grimly impressed) at how the Democrats were able to take their assault on religious liberty, unprecedented in modern history, and turn it into a Republican “war on women.”

But then my views changed back again, as I realized that the war on women theme, while good for some short term gain, was going to be nothing in comparison to the hot and steadily rising flame of Catholic opposition to the mandate, and thus to Obama and the Democrats. It didn’t take long for Catholics to prove that they weren’t going to back down, or forget, or stop fighting this. Videos, events, legal actions, statement by bishops . . . the Church has been stirred to action to a degree I don’t think the Democrats expected. And now that Obamacare appears to be with us for a while, that opposition will only increase. (Watch Eric Metaxas and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse discussing the grave dangers the HHS mandate pose to religious freedom in America.)

The Catholic Church is not the only sleeping giant Obama and the Democrats have awoken. The Democrats’ sudden increase in the pace of our march into statism generally—and Obamacare very specifically—created the impetus for the entire Tea Party movement. One of the most powerful political forces in a generation sprang up almost overnight, and in 2010 helped produce the biggest Republican sweep in the modern era. And now, the Tea Party, recently spoken of (by some) as perhaps being a spent force, is energized once again by the SCOTUS decision, and will play a major role in the 2012 elections.

And there is another giant, which is stirring more slowly, but which might even prove to be larger and more powerful in the long run…

Half a century ago, traditionalist conservatives and libertarians united under the banner of what was, at first, called “fusionism.” With the guidance of William Buckley, Frank Meyer, and National Review, this new fusionism formed the core of the new right, and the alliance held fairly strong through the Cold War. With the fall of the USSR, the external threat that had provided much of the glue that held the movement together was gone, and libertarians began peeling off into a somewhat separate camp. Once again, the two factions began to focus more on the smaller number of issues about which we disagree rather than the larger number of positions we share in common.

But now, Obama and the Democrats appear to be providing the glue to bind a new fusionist movement. Though they are not technically an external totalitarian threat, as the USSR was, Obama and the Democrats have simply tried to move the country too far, too fast, in a statist direction. This is pushing libertarians and conservatives back together again. Conservatism is rediscovering its libertarian core. Tea partiers, though perhaps largely conservative themselves, are powering what is in essence a libertarian movement. And libertarians, though ever the purists in this relationship, are working more closely with conservatives . . . for pragmatic reasons, if nothing else. Libertarianism is even making inroads into the Republican Party.  And if this new fusionism truly takes hold, it will form an oppositional force more powerful than the Democrats imagined.

I have said a number of times, though grimly and with a large measure of caution, that if the nation and its economy can survive Barack Obama, his presidency may end up having a positive impact on the nation. Not for what he did, but for the liberty-living opposition he awakened. The antibodies of freedom in the American immune system, long slumbering, have been stirred. People are aware and active, and rediscovering our core beliefs.

The sleeper has awakened, and once we have fully risen, Obama may find himself wishing he had not stirred us at all.

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