Diana West

Thirty-two years ago, Ronald Reagan gave his first Inaugural Address. His words still illuminate.

"We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around," he said. "And this makes us special among the nations of the Earth."

For the past nearly two weeks, some of the temporary custodians of our government -- President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to name two -- have impressed upon the nation their scorn for this same founding principle. That, of course, means their scorn for Us, the People. Above all, in trying to force House Republicans to fund Obamacare against the wishes of the voters who elected them, they want us to understand that we don't "have" a government, the government has us.

And not only us, but everything else. That's why, for the first time, I feel like a tenant in my own country as President Obama has assumed the role of landlord.

Meanwhile, House Republicans passed at least 10 "mini" bills to fund services from the National Institutes of Health, including cancer trials for children ("Listen, why would we want to do that?" as Senate Leader Reid notoriously asked), to Veterans Affairs, to national parks, to the District of Columbia. The Democrat majority in the Senate, however, refused to approve them. In alliance with the White House, theirs is the strategy of the monolith: all or nothing.

Why? If Congress funds the more popular or relied-upon parts of the federal government, the American people won't mind a bit not funding or even defunding the unpopular or unnecessary parts, and that includes Obamacare. Conversely, Democrats really seem to believe that only in a total shutdown will Americans feel "maximum pain." According to such thinking, in our pain lies Democrat gain.

It makes a great party motto: "In pain they trust." Engender enough of it and the Democrats think they'll drive right over the Republicans to a virtual one-party state.

But maybe the grand strategy backfired. Something's wrong when Landlord Obama, his administration busy ordering up "barrycades" and roadblocks for everything from the Grand Tetons to the Smoky Mountains, ekes out just a 37 percent approval rating this week.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).