An open memo to mainstream Americans from the nation’s smallest and fastest shrinking minority group
By Craig J. Cantoni
Jan. 5, 2009
M E M O R A N D U M
To: Subsidy seekers, rent seekers, bailout seekers, moochers, busybodies, scolds, nannies, egalitarians, collectivists, mercantilists, corporatists, utilitarians, nationalists, central planners, race mongers, war mongers, left wingers, right wingers, progressives, contemporary liberals, neoconservatives, and other statists
From: Classical liberals (aka libertarians)
Dear Fellow Americans:
Voting results and public opinion polls show that there are now 291 million of you and nine million of us. Since you outnumber us by 32 to 1, and since your group is growing and ours is shrinking, you must be right and we must be wrong about the proper role of government. Therefore, we humbly and respectfully ask you to take a few minutes to set us straight.
For ease of communicating, we’ll take the liberty of calling you the New American Mainstream, or NAM for short. In return, you can call us anything you like, but here are some of the names that you’ve called us in the past: selfish, mean-spirited, naïve, ignorant, un-American, unpatriotic, isolationist, utopian, extremist, retrograde, and just plain nuts.
Being of limited mental capacity, we don’t understand why the NAM dislikes us so much. After all, we believe in the nation’s founding principles and in minding our own business.
Why does this live-and-let-live attitude piss you off so much? Why do you insist on knocking on our doors and telling us how to live? After all, we don’t knock on your doors and tell you how to live.
Unlike you, we’re not comfortable in trying to remake the world into our image. Maybe that’s because we have a low self-image from being called names for so long. We just want you and your government agents to leave us alone
Our four beliefs about the role of government make you crazy. They are: (1) that the state is subservient to the individual, not vice versa; (2) that the only legitimate use of government force is to protect life, liberty, and property; (3) that people should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as they don’t harm others; and (4) that it is arrogant and dangerous to try to impose our values on other people and nations.
You believe the opposite. Some of you want to tell us what we can eat and inhale, some of you want to force our kids to engage in government idolatry in government schools by reciting stuff like mindless automatons, some of you want our kids to die in foreign lands without a compelling reason for doing so, some of you want to take our money and give it to loafers and scoundrels, some of you want us to say that the country is always right, some of you want us to say it is always wrong, some of you want government bureaucrats to come between us and our physicians, some of you want us to pay more for groceries in order to buy the votes of farmers, some of you want us to subsidize sports stadiums and thus the thugs who play in them, some of you want to bequeath our kids over $700,000 apiece in unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare, some of you want us to be the co-signers on mortgages of spendthrifts and dopes, some of you want us to pay for the featherbedding of the UAW and teacher unions, some of you …. Well, you get the point.
Or maybe you don’t. The point is that you’re all the same underneath your party labels. You all believe that if enough people can band together, they have the right to tell other people what to do. You’re all members of the NAM tribe and wear the same bone of statism through your noses. Yet, strangely, half of you hate the other half of you.
In our personal lives, we strive to be virtuous and industrious, to be responsible parents, to be good neighbors, and to help the poor and the sick through private charity. It hasn’t dawned on you that the more you tell people how to live, the less they do these things on their own.
From your perspective, our biggest failing is that we don’t like to be told to put bones through our noses, or the modern equivalent of bones through our noses.
When a tribal chieftain, king, emperor, dictator, president, member of Congress, Hollywood celebrity, sports star, network newscaster, talk radio host, college professor, or even an intelligent person tells us how to think, what to wear, and what to read, we automatically do the opposite. We stand out at the tribal campfire and at Starbucks, because we’re the only ones without bones through our noses. You, on the other hand, like bones through your noses.
Speaking of tribal chieftains, we don’t swoon at the sight of them, whether they call themselves Democrats or Republicans, or Bush or Obama. Like the Founders, we’re leery of giving a chieftain any more power than the power to protect us. If one of them were to come to our neighborhood to give a speech, we’d leave and go to a movie, because large audiences only bring out the worst in them. We think that the world would be a better place if no one showed up when chieftains speak. Besides, if they want to tell us something important, they can send a smoke signal or text message.
We agree with Elbert Hubbard, who said in 1927, “The weakness of the many make the leader possible.”
Our favorite president of the modern era is Calvin Coolidge. He believed that the less he did, the better he did. As proof that we’re right, college professors rank Coolidge near the bottom. As further proof, John McCain ranks Teddy Roosevelt near the top, and Barack Obama wants to be the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
While on the subject of Obama, it distresses us that millions of Americans are planning to attend his inauguration. It reminds us of old newsreels of Germans swooning over Hitler, Italians saluting Mussolini, Soviets goose-stepping in front of Stalin, cultural revolutionists terrorizing for Mao, and kamikazes dying for the Emperor. No, we don’t equate Obama to tyranny, but we do equate mob mentality, group think, and concentrated power to danger, whoever sits at the top of government and whatever his race and party.
As students of history and philosophy, we think we’re right about what the world would be like if everyone subscribed to our philosophy of making the individual supreme. Just in the twentieth century alone, more than 100 million people wouldn’t have died. And in U.S. history, slavery and its aftermaths would never have happened.
Granted, bad things have happened and something should be done about them. But let’s remember who caused the problems in the first place. It wasn’t us.
Almost all bad things have their origin in the government not doing the right thing from the start. Yet the New American Mainstream trusts the government to do the right thing, including fixing the economy that it has broken, fixing K-12 education that it has broken, fixing healthcare that it has broken, fixing Iraq that it has broken, fixing families that it has broken, fixing self-reliance that it has broken, fixing frugality that it has broken, fixing markets that it has broken, and fixing government that it has broken. To us, that’s akin to sending a bull back into a china shop to repair the damage he has done.
But what do we know? If we were right, we’d be in the majority and our views would be heard on network TV, on CNN, on Fox News, on talk radio, in the New York Times, in the Wall Street Journal, in our local newspaper, in presidential debates, in Congress, in the White House, and in the Supreme Court.
Well, at least we don’t have bones through our noses.
An author and columnist, Mr. Cantoni can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.