The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, November 02, 2014


One of the aspects of the Obama era is the inexorable growth of BIG (big intrusive government). In fact, that may be one reason why there is so much discontent in the electorate—people perceive that government is not only too big, but also incompetent—it can't seem to get most things right. It doesn't really matter whether it's Obamacare (an unmitigated disaster that will get even worse next year), the VA scandal (in which government provided poor medical care to vets and then blatantly lied about its failings, the debt (soon to top $18 trillion), the Ebola debacle in which the CDC looked indecisive and misdirected, the IRS scandal (in which a government agency was weaponized to attack political opposition of this president ... the list is almost endless. Many citizens believe something is wrong.

Ed Driscoll considers this and teaches us a new (German) word as well. He writes:
Gleichschaltung is a German word (in case you couldn’t have guessed) borrowed from electrical engineering. It means “coordination.” The German National Socialists (Nazis) used the concept to get every institution to sing from the same hymnal. If a fraternity or business embraced Nazism, it could stay “independent.” If it rejected Nazism, it was crushed or bent to the state’s ideology. Meanwhile, every branch of government was charged with not merely doing its job but advancing the official state ideology.

Now, contemporary liberalism is not an evil ideology. Its intentions aren’t evil or even fruitfully comparable to Hitlerism. But there is a liberal Gleichschaltung all the same. Every institution must be on the same page. Every agency must advance the liberal agenda.

And this is where the Catch-22 catches. The dream of a nimble, focused, problem-solving government is undone by the reality of hyper–mission creep. When every institution is yoked to an overarching philosophy or mission, its actual purpose can become an afterthought. In 2005, volunteer firefighters from all over the country offered to help with Katrina’s aftermath. But FEMA sent many of them to Atlanta first to undergo diversity and sexual-harassment training (which most already had).

Such examples are everywhere. What is political correctness other than the gears of the liberal Gleichschaltung? The financial crisis was worsened because Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became tools for liberal social engineering. Let’s not even mention public schools.

The White House is determined to be a great friend (i.e., servant) to the unions, so everything from the stimulus to the automaker buyout to the Gulf spill must first pass union muster. Remember those vital, “shovel-ready” weatherization jobs the stimulus was supposed to pay for? The Labor Department delayed them for nearly a year while trying to figure out how to comply with pro-union “prevailing wage” rules for each of more than 3,000 counties.

Liberalism has become a cargo cult to the New Deal, but many of the achievements of the New Deal would be impossible now. Just try to get a Hoover Dam built today.

President Obama likes to say that “if we could put a man on the moon,” we can do anything, from socializing medicine to abandoning fossil fuels. That’s nonsense on stilts for a host of reasons. But it’s also ironic, given that we can’t even put a man on the moon anymore. Not when NASA’s foremost priority is boosting the self-esteem of children and Muslims.
And therein lies the rub. Since all government agencies must exhibit gleichschaltung they must expend energy and resources to toe a PC line espoused by the ruling elites. In so doing, their primary mission is diluted. If the CDC must worry about obesity in the population, it has fewer resources to focus on communicable, deadly diseases—its primary mission.  If NASA must worry about "boosting the self-esteem of children and Muslims" it has slightly less time to focus on aeronautics. If the Department of Justice becomes obsessed with racial politics, it's blinded to the potential for voter fraud on a national level.

Maybe a little less gleichschaltung would be a good thing. Maybe a lot less BIG wouldn't be so bad either. We'll see whether the electorate agrees on Tuesday.