Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor currently getting a dose of media scrutiny generally reserved for conservatives, said something you can hear daily in Washington, D.C. From bars in and around Capitol Hill to cocktail parties in Georgetown, the elites roaming the halls of power think you, the American people, are stupid.
This belief is not unique to Democrats; it’s truly a bipartisan idea. In fact, the very concept of modern government in the United States is based on it.
Since the start of the progressive movement, self-appointed intellectuals, academics, the wealthy and politicians have based their actions on the conviction that they know what is best for others; their lessors, the unwashed masses. Since the turn of the 20th century, this belief has crept into governments on all levels, incrementally nudging our liberties to the side and replacing it with their coerced will.
With few exceptions, government has grown regardless of which political party held power. Faster under Democrats, on average, but growing nonetheless. As government grows, liberty shrinks.
Concepts unfathomable to our Founding Fathers, or even 100 or 50 years ago, are now accepted norms in American life. Leaps and bounds such as Obamacare we notice; the inching and chipping away we don’t. But the journey is only window dressing, the destination is what matters. And we arrived a long time ago.
We didn’t get to 50 million people on food stamps and 100 million people on some form of government assistance overnight; we were led there by these very progressives under the guise of caring and compassion.
Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” We didn’t go the wholesale route, we went piecemeal.
Masterfully, progressives rarely went for the long bomb. They were content to pound away at the ground game. Always under the pretense of compassion, they moved to “help” the poor and the elderly, because what kind of monster would oppose helping the poor or elderly? Some did, and they were painted as monsters. Meanwhile, the real monsters marched on.
When Gruber talked about the lack of transparency being a major ally in the fight to pass Obamacare, he was wrong. It wasn’t a lack of transparency. There were conservatives across the country saying exactly what the law was going to do. It was his and other advocates’ willingness to lie for the cause. And it was the media’s enthusiasm to swallow the truth and sell the lie to the people who trusted the media to tell them the truth that ensured its passage.
There were tens of thousands of Americans who took to Capitol Hill to have their objections to that monstrosity heard, but progressives were not going to deviate from their plan. For generations, they’d had their eyes on this prize – control over one-sixth of the U.S. economy – and they weren’t going to let anyone stand in their way.
Like I said, they don’t often go for the bomb, but when it’s there for them they will take a shot. They’d been chipping away at the edges by expanding Medicaid further and further up the income scale, biding their time. The Hail Mary had been intercepted in 1993 with Hillarycare, but they completed the pass with Obamacare.
And while hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the National Mall, and millions more contacted their members of Congress to voice their opposition, tens of millions more didn’t. The government was moving to take de facto control over the most important commodity in their lives, and they sat silent.
In spite of the media’s best efforts, the truth was out there. The only way to avoid exposure to the truth was through willful blindness, and many Americans were willfully blind.
To remain ignorant in the face of available information, to ignore reality because you’ve got other things you’d rather do, is to choose to be consciously unaware. When it comes to government attacking liberty, to be consciously unaware is to willingly make yourself stupid.
So, in that sense, Jonathan Gruber was absolutely correct. Obamacare could not have passed were it not for the stupidity of the American voter. But progressives didn’t have to be so coy about their desires. Had they been open, it wouldn’t have made a difference to most people. You either understand the concept of liberty and care about it or you don’t. This past election showed many more people have awakened to it, and the giant that is the American people is paying attention…for now.
But just like the 1994 election after Hillarycare, the American public is less a sleeping giant than a narcoleptic one. Thomas Jefferson knew “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” but too many of us aren’t interested in vigilance. When presented with the opportunity to get something for themselves at the expense of someone else, they take it.
To those people, were they to overhear members of Congress, their staffs or the DC professional cocktail party set say the American people are ignorant, they would nod in agreement. Then they’d hope they remembered to set their DVR to record The Real Housewives Of Kardashianville and forget all about it.