Jonah Goldberg

Progressives invented the idea of the "moral equivalent of war" as a means of inciting citizens to drop their personal priorities and rally around the state for a government-defined "cause larger than themselves." Obama came into office under the motto "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste" and has been looking for "Sputnik moments" ever since in a search for a way to rationalize his agenda.

To the extent Obama ever speaks the language of religion, it is to justify, even sanctify, the works of government. He often invokes the Hallmark-ized biblical teaching that "I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper" as a means to rationalize not personal action but government action. (Obama's own half-siblings have received little attention from their very wealthy and famous relative.)

Progressive minister Walter Rauschenbusch famously declared that only the "God that answereth by low food prices" should be God. You might say that under the ObamaCare vision, only the God that answereth with free birth control should be God.

In the slideshow "The Life of Julia" (Google it), the Obama campaign celebrates a progressive vision of citizenship where all of a hypothetical young woman's accomplishments are co-produced by the state: "Under President Obama, Julia decides to have a child."

It's all of a piece with Obama's conviction that "a problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans."

The problem facing Obama is that there's a reason the American people never fully embraced the progressive vision. The idea driving America is the individual pursuit of happiness. Just because the word "individual" appears in there doesn't make it a selfish ideal; it means it's a vision of liberty. We each find our happiness where we seek it. For some that's in business, for others the arts, or religion or family or a mix of them all. And very often our happiness depends upon the satisfaction we feel at having conquered problems on our own.

Under President Obama, that sense of happiness is a mirage, because everything is a co-production of the state.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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