Congresswoman Bachmann: Liberty and Tyranny is “intellectual foundation” of Tea Party.
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Clearly, as with Paine, Stowe and Goldwater before him, Levin had struck a very American nerve. While the book manifested all the usual best seller symptoms (it was #1 on the New York Times list for three months, #1 on Amazon for all books for several months as well as #2 for all of 2009 on the Amazon hardcover non-fiction list etc.), there was obviously something else going on.
A very, very big something else.
IT’S REASONABLE TO ASK after all of this — why all the fuss over a book that defends the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence? What is it that drives over 1.2 million books to sell like glasses of cold lemonade in the Sahara Desert? What kind of book gets over 2,000 reviews on Amazon, the book rated with five stars by all but a handful of readers? What kind of book sends Americans into the streets waving copies as if they’d uncovered the Holy Grail?
Congresswoman Bachmann thinks she knows the answer. The book, she says simply, was a “gift to our nation.”
In a manner that Levin could not possibly have foreseen, his arguments defending individual freedoms and liberty from what Alexis de Tocqueville called “soft tyranny” — the supremacy of the state suddenly took on a vivid, personal meaning for Americans. As the new Obama administration and its allies on Capitol Hill began rapidly expanding the size and scope of the federal government almost exponentially, jamming a government takeover of health care through a Congress besieged by constituents shouting — sometimes literally — not to do this, millions of Americans were provoked from stunned amazement to outrage. On top of a staggering so-called stimulus plan that cost almost $1 trillion plus government takeovers and bailouts of everything from car companies to financial institutions, the realization dawned on many Americans that Levin was right: the long march of collectivism had suddenly turned into a sprint.
Word of Levin’s book spread like wildfire..
His use of a once-forgotten old word quickly made its way into the 21st century American vocabulary. The term “statist” began tripping from angry lips, Levin having used it to characterize the “Modern Liberal.” As Americans realized they were going to be forced by the government to buy health care, as they watched the President smoothly — chillingly — tell a woman in one televised exchange that the government would have to have “rules” for deciding end-of-life care, Levin’s writings that the “Founders understood the greatest threat to liberty is an all-powerful central government” resonated.
Those who had never gotten closer to the Declaration of Independence than a Fourth of July picnic were now gobbling up a book that devoted its opening chapter to the philosophical history behind the first of the two founding documents creating the United States of America. For many it was a first time tutorial in the connection between Natural Law and individual rights. Writing clearly and concisely, Levin had taken care to present the basics of the ideas that had resulted in the country’s founding. Philosophers from Adam Smith to Charles Montesquieu, John Locke and Edmund Burke were getting the spotlight treatment along with their thoughts on the free market, separation of powers, natural rights and, specifically, what Levin cited as Burke’s “interconnection of liberty, free markets, religion, tradition, and authority.”
Entire chapters were devoted to explaining those issues in relation to the United States Constitution. Over and over and over again Levin illustrated that the central, driving core of statism — the supremacy of the state — was the reality behind a host of issues ranging from environmentalism to immigration to the economy to religious expression, the welfare state, and more.
As the Tea Party burst onto the political scene, as the Obama administration raced forward with an agenda that quickly became identified with the authoritarian (if not totalitarian) state, the Constitution — at the very core of Levin’s book — began showing up as a quite specific issue. Angrily confronted in a health-care town meeting by a camera-wielding constituent as to the importance of following the Constitution, one Illinois Congressman, Democrat Phil Hare, snapped, “I don’t worry about the Constitution on this.” Responded the constituent: “Jackpot brother.” The video rocketed into political notoriety — and on November 2nd Hare lost his seat to Republican Bobby Schilling, the Tea Party-backed owner of a pizzeria.
When a reporter asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi where in the Constitution there was authority to force health care on American citizens, she replied with the classic arrogance Levin had fixed as part of the standard statist repertoire: “Are you kidding? Are you kidding?” Thus providing a jaw-dropping illustration from one of the highest officials in the land of the statist contempt for the nation’s founding documents as noted — a year ahead of time — in Liberty and Tyranny.
AS THIS SCENARIO UNFOLDED, Levin the author and radio host decided there was something else he would do. Levin had been present at the creation of the Reagan battles with the intellectually listless but still-powerful Republican Establishment in 1976, the year the former California governor took on the sitting President Gerald Ford in a battle royal for both the presidential nomination — and the heart and soul of Abraham Lincoln’s party. Levin, an enthusiastic young Reaganite who had taken on the Ford-run Pennsylvania GOP on Reagan’s behalf, watched as Ford won the battle while Reagan captured the party’s heart and soul.
If Mark Levin learned nothing else in 1976 he learned from Reagan’s example. “Lay me down and bleed a while. Though I am wounded, I am not slain. I shall rise and fight again,” Reagan had memorably quoted a Scottish ballad after losing to Ford. After Ford (repeatedly touted by the GOP Establishment as a winner because he was a “moderate” Republican) lost the general election to Jimmy Carter, Reagan chastised the Establishment GOP for running the party as a “fraternal order” as opposed to a party “bound together by shared principles.” In a headline-grabbing interview with the New York Times, Reagan said the Republican Party needed to “save itself by declaring its conservative beliefs.”
So Mark Levin began scouting the land for serious conservatives running for office in 2010. Amazingly, he found signs that the Reagan-Ford fight of old still haunted in certain precincts. In Florida he came across an unknown ex-state legislator named Marco Rubio, the young son of Cuban refugees. Rubio was challenging the GOP Establishment’s favorite, Governor Charlie Crist. The National Republican Senatorial Committee had endorsed Crist. There were calls for Rubio, wonking along at a mere 8% in the polls, to abandon the race. Rubio refused. Levin, inviting Rubio on his show, was impressed. Very. And following Reagan’s advice in 1976 that the Republican Party should be about conservative principles rather than a fraternal order, Levin kept putting Rubio on the air — which meant the unknown Rubio was getting air time to explain himself in major radio markets all over Florida.
He did this very Reaganesque thing all over the country — zeroing in on conservative candidates being pilloried by the state’s Ford-like GOP Establishments. From Kentucky’s Rand Paul to Utah’s Mike Lee to Nevada’s Sharron Angle, Alaska’s Joe Miller and Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell. Over and over again, Levin was connecting the dots between the intellectual arguments of Liberty and Tyranny — and the practical politics, the who, what, why, and where — the knowledge that conservative voters across the country needed to begin making sure candidates who knew something about the Constitution were actually being nominated for office.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?