Opinion | Liddick: The world through Janus’ eyes
January 1, 2019
OK, everyone. Take a long, slow breath. Let it out … and consider the new-found quiet. After the angst-and-avarice-filled festivities of the Christmas season, it's time for a new beginning. Time to consider Janus, the two-faced Roman god of duality and transitions; of gates and passageways; of peace, the past and future. Janus sees both with equal clarity — a useful ability when one is at a crossroads wondering which path to take.
A Janus-like look at the recent past would see much that is unappealing. An emergent ruling class so certain in its power that it thought it only needed to speak the word to have its chosen one elected. And when that effort failed, so enraged that it usurped the organs of government to try to drive the winner from office and destroy him to assure that none other like him would follow. He would see a rapidly expanding and protean group of Americans schooled in anger, in envy, in greed and grievance, nurtured by members of the political class only too happy to ride the insatiable whirlwind of demands for retribution for past wrongs real and imagined — to their own benefit and heedless of the damage their actions cause the nation. He would see the chaos mindless hatred is sowing in our society — hatred so virulent it cannot even recognize itself in a mirror, not even wrapped in a Confederate battle flag or black ANTIFA garb.
In Colorado, Janus would see a Republican party hell-bent on committing suicide and a Democrat party perfectly willing to help. It's not a pretty picture.
Looking forward, there are few things about which a conservative might smile. Gov.-elect Polis is about to embark on a spending spree the likes of which the state has not seen for decades. TABOR be damned, but not done away with yet: it's too useful a foil for attacks on those Wascally Wepublicans. First, undermine it with a "recalculation" of Amendment C set-asides, and when that's not enough for the very ambitious plans of "Taking on the rising cost of living, building a world-class educational system and expanding access to high-quality affordable health care," start whining about how "restrictive" TABOR is. Because those items alone are going to need a lot more money than the state government can legally grab now. When the remaining Republican officeholders object, claim that they're "fighting for the rich against the poor and sick," or that their opposition is due to their "hatred of children" or "racism," or some other such tripe. Drive the rest of them from office and rule without opposition. It's coming as surely as night follows day. Get ready for it.
How would one deal with the situation the future-looking Janus sees? First, unify. Colorado conservatives must — not should, must — recognize that the person with whom they agree on 80 percent of things is not an opponent but a friend, who certainly should be supported against a person with whom they agree on 30 percent of things, most likely a Progressive Democrat.
Then proceed to argument. Here, too, a Janus-like glance to the past is useful, because historical facts very much favor the conservative, freedom-oriented view that a strong but strictly limited government is best, particularly when coupled with a market economy. Especially in the past few centuries, these conditions have proven the most likely to produce the widest benefits for the most people while imposing the fewest limits on human liberty — one of humanity's "unalienable" rights.
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One should call out, wherever possible, the illegitimate use of emotion in argument. This is difficult because emotion is the soul of politics and the Democrats have long had a lock on the argument of grievance, real or imagined. But it is possible to point out to the audience that they are being flimflammed by someone toying with their emotions. Most people will remember being bamboozled and will not be happy about it.
One should also underline the greed behind the promise of benefits unearned, paid for by others to the detriment of the nation. This appeal is always emotional and is often couched in terms of "fairness" or "equality" — antithetical concepts to those who think clearly about the two, but perfectly acceptable in concert to those who hear only with the heart. These messages lead directly to further division, to the ascendancy of authoritarianism and eventually, to national bankruptcy. In recent decades, transfers to individuals from the Federal budget have grown rapidly, now topping 72 percent of the whole $4.1 trillion bucket. This trend cannot continue if our nation is to survive, despite assurances, nay demands, from our political classes that it do so.
This will not be light or quick work. Whatever its final purpose, whoever leads it, there is too great an appeal in the roar of the crowd, too seductive a sense of power in the mob for it to be easily put away. But it must be opposed and put away. Because if it isn't the state will be not paradise, but a ruin.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily News.
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