Robert Knight

Everyone has a theory about why Tea Party upstart Dr. David A. Brat soundly beat Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s 7th congressional district primary on June 10.

I have one, and it’s about this being bigger than Eric Cantor. First, some history and a prosaic observation: Bigness is sometimes better, but sometimes, it’s not.

Large companies such as Apple, for instance, have the research, capital, distribution and marketing to quickly bring technology to consumers. Once-exotic smart phones are as common as wrist watches. The Internet, our modern Tower of Babel, brings literally trillions of bits of information to us anytime, anywhere. It’s big, big, big.

The downside is the loss of real, in-person socializing, weaker communities and the psychological whiplash of rapid, constant change, which Return to Order author John Horvat II calls “frenetic intemperance,” the driving engine of “giantism.” Bigger. Faster. With giantism comes concentration of power.

The market economy has no peer in delivering goods and liberty. Nothing comes close. But the market itself is amoral; it will serve up pornography and feed other vices as readily as it creates hamburgers and weed whackers. Unlike socialism, the market is self-governing in many ways, but it requires an umpire to make sure players don’t violate fair play and commit criminal acts. As James Madison observed, men are not angels.

To constitutional conservatives, “fair play” means operating with rules that apply to all. To liberals, it means using government to redistribute wealth in a “fair” way, seizing it from taxpayers and transferring it to liberal constituencies to buy votes.

For this to happen, the government had to get very, very big, and grow beyond its constitutional boundaries. Under Franklin D. Roosevelt, the federal government umpire came out from behind the plate and became the biggest player on the field.

World War II generated a huge increase in government power, followed by Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society in the late 1960s, which lured millions into chronic dependency – the animating principle behind President Obama’s domestic agenda.

Washington’s centralized power has grown to where it threatens our most fundamental liberties. It’s even spying on us now. Who is pushing back?


Robert Knight

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.