If our current leadership in Washington had ventured outside the Beltway more, they would have known that Americans are serious about our freedom. And we have the common sense to know there's no free lunch. As usual, a sign I spotted at a health care reform rally (held up by a guy I'm pretty sure wasn't a constitutional law professor) said it best: "Governments Don't Give Rights. Governments Take Rights Away."
There, written in black acrylic paint on neon poster board, was as good a description of what it takes to defend our freedom as I have ever seen. The giant that is America has been awakened.
The worst thing you can say about a fellow American in politics today is that he is a racist. It just doesn't get any more damning than this accusation. That's why so many of us were horrified to hear news reports that people protesting the passage of the health care bill had shouted racial epithets at an African American congressmen as they walked to the Capitol to cast their vote. It was a serious charge, made by supposedly serious men, and repeated endlessly in the mainstream media. At a critical moment in the debate, it overshadowed all the arguments that opponents of Obamacare had made—that the bill would put government in control of our health care, cost too much, and explode the deficit. The racism charge painted opponents of the law with the lowest form of hate, not the best interests of their country or their neighbor.
But was it true? Despite the fact that everyone walks around these days with a cell phone capable of capturing video, evidence to support the charge has never emerged. In the weeks and months after the alleged incident, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart even offered huge cash rewards to anyone who could produce proof that the health care protestors had shouted racial slurs. No proof ever emerged.
But a lack of evidence hasn't stopped liberal activists and their allies in the media from repeatedly accusing patriotic Americans at Tea Party rallies and elsewhere of being racists. And let's not kid ourselves. The purpose of this charge isn't to clarify but to confuse. It's thrown out there to shut down debate by declaring one side of it (dissenters from the Obama agenda) unworthy of being taken seriously. After all, if we're motivated only by the fact that there is a "black man in the White House" and not by serious policy differences, what's the point in discussing those policy differences? This tactic is of a piece with the shameful tendency on the left not simply to declare their opponents wrong, but to declare them evil. Conservatives and liberals don't have honest policy disagreements, this strategy says; conservatives are just bad people. But more Americans have opposed Obamacare than have supported it since the health care debate began. A majority of Americans opposed the bill when it was proposed, then passed. A majority oppose it today. Does that mean that a majority of Americans are bad people? And would that be the same majority of Americans who voted for Barack Obama for president?