Noting that the Founding Fathers wouldn't have recognized the current form of the government that they themselves designed, the Washington Times editorial quoted an April 1768 letter to The Gentleman's Magazine from Benjamin Franklin, who wrote: "I fear the giving mankind a dependence on any thing for support, in age or sickness, besides industry and frugality during youth and health, tends to flatter our natural indolence, to encourage idleness and prodigality, and thereby to promote and increase poverty, the very evil it was intended to cure; thus multiplying beggars instead of diminishing them."
Franklin's fear was prophetic. Such self-reliance -- what a younger Barack Obama once disparaged as "John Wayne" thinking -- is officially no longer an American ideal. In fact, this is one campaign promise -- to transform this nation fundamentally -- President Obama has fulfilled.
Such fundamental transformation was a long time coming. Its course was largely set three quarters of a century ago during the 12-year reign of FDR, whose signature "New Deal" entrenched the Marxist (socialist, Leninist, progressive, collectivist, Alinskyite -- take your pick) mindset in Ever-Bigger-Government America. In a sense, Barack Obama ranks only as the most audacious of FDR's successors in his ideological drive to socialize the USA. As Obama himself explained in a 1995 interview with the Chicago Reader (unearthed by Obama biographer Stanley Kurtz), the "right-wing ... individualistic bootstrap myth" needed replacing. "We must unite in collective action," Obama said, "build collective institutions and organizations."
That certainly describes SCOTUS-approved Obamacare.
Taking the long view, we might say the collectivists inspired by the Russian Revolution of 1917 have won. The individual has lost. The state has only grown, and liberty has only shrunk. The fireworks went off all right, but somehow, the home of the brave remains in the dark.
At least until November, when we get one more chance.
(Diana West is the author of "The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization," and blogs at dianawest.net. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @diana_west_.)