I am finding myself suffering from Obama fatigue or even just sheer government idiocy fatigue. After watching the State of the Union Address, it appears Obama is poised to continue off the cliff. The only real question remains how many of us he succeeds in taking with him, how much of his agenda can be blunted and what exactly will happen in the 2010 elections. Until then, it is a watching and waiting game. Hoping also. Hoping that enough Americans awake and embrace liberty. But it seems the further one is from true liberty the less they know it's true meaning or can even envision what it would look like in it's practical form.
If liberty were to come, there is even the gamble that many would reject it in it's whole.
Some time ago, I read a piece by Solzhentsyn in which he said many people in this country believed their carefree life would continue on forever, unabated, no matter what they did. It was a keen observation. The way they were raised by parents in a country of unprecedented comfort and wealth that spoiled them. Not only their way of life but an improvement of it was a conditioned expectation. In reality, freedom can not survive irresponsibility.
Socialism and big government foster that irresponsibility. Socialism is an ideology wherein everyone owns each other, but, ultimately, nobody owns themselves. Everyone is owned by a coalition of resentful busibodies, leeches, incompetents, and demagogues. However, the idea of not owning one's self is attractive especially if they are free to engage in vice. Vice is then repackaged as a substitute for freedom.
I would guess it holds true that many conservatives or libertarians can admit to once being more socialist in nature. Growing up in upstate New York I was always intuitively more conservative than nearly anyone I encountered. That being said, the tide all around me was so low, that all things relative, my beliefs were pretty statist, looking back. My first tour of living in Europe cured me of any leftward idealists thoughts I might have. I saw first hand the discrepancy between our lives and what, in reality, was another of the "richest" nations lives. There was no comparison and the backwardness of their societies was palpable.
My abject fear of ever having such a society foisted upon us made me more nationalist, certainly jingoistic. Having the luxury of time I was able to ferret out the differences and feel out the small day to day nuances. For instance, watching as a man refused to move simple box 100 feet because moving boxes was not in his contract was a one day cure-all for any union sympathies I might have had. Also watching my neighbor take a full six weeks off of work for hay fever as he spent his days reading the paper and taking every meal out in his garden was another memorable eye opening observation. Observing human nature as it was, not as I wanted to believe it should be, was key in understanding the failures of collectivism.
As it is, no one talked me out of socialism. Like most, I had children, got a mortgage and saw how confiscatory it was to the typical family. Realistically, it took years to go from "talking point repeating drone" to conservative. Even still my political awareness is evolving. I am still recognizing the places where I accept the premise of an authoritarian big government. The places where, I myself, may reject liberty.