As Dennis Prager neatly illustrates, is now really the time for Joe Biden and other leftists to be advocating…
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Image of the Day: Defund Police, While Crime Spikes Upward?

As Dennis Prager neatly illustrates, is now really the time for Joe Biden and other leftists to be advocating "Defund the Police?"

 

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="664"] Not the Time to Defund Police[/caption]

 

 …[more]

July 31, 2020 • 02:19 PM

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America’s Civic Failure: Have We Gotten What We Deserve? Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, July 24 2014
An imperial president, after all, is less of a threat than a public that refuses to swiftly and decisively rebuke him.

Being a conservative — or, for that matter, any American with the decency to recoil at Barack Obama’s generalissimo style of governance — is a pretty disheartening experience.

Sure, there’s a schadenfreude to seeing the White House reel from the tidal wave of problems currently submerging it — the international tensions, the domestic scandals, the Supreme Court smackdowns, the now-pervasive sense of incompetence. But how truly satisfying is it to know that the country retains the capacity to recognize a huge mistake half a decade after the fact? Even as a consolation prize, that’s pretty weak beer.

And what exactly is the country rejecting? Has five and a half years of Barack Obama discredited the entire progressive project? Or does your average voter identify the problem as emanating from the man rather than the philosophy that animates him? There’s no way to answer that question definitively, but to so much as ask it is to succumb to a certain species of depression.

Conservatives have spent the Obama years sounding like the frustrated, helpless Bob Dole of the 1996 presidential campaign: “Where’s the outrage?” Whether it was ObamaCare, Benghazi, the IRS controversy, Fast and Furious, etc., the president has always seemed resistant to the gravitational pull of scandal or outright failure.

Eager to self-medicate, his opponents have identified a number of causes for Obama’s seemingly superhuman resilience: a compliant media, a public unwilling to scrutinize the first African-American president too closely, a timid Republican Party. There may be an element of truth to each of those, but perhaps the underlying problem runs deeper; perhaps the American people just don’t care.

The reality is that ours is a country in which action is increasingly judged by intention. So what if ObamaCare was a colossal failure? At least the president was trying to get health insurance for those in need. So what if our foreign policy is a shambles? The president is vocal about his aspirations for global peace. So what if the border is now as porous as a spaghetti strainer? Barack Obama’s immigration policy is motivated by compassion.

The problem is that the American people have a (usually healthy) impulse for practicality. We roll up our sleeves and get things done. The entire design of American government, however, is predicated on inefficiency.

The idea was not to design a political system in which action could be taken quickly (with the notable exception of the president’s commander-in-chief powers); the idea was to design a system that put the brakes on government at as many points as possible in order to prevent public-sector overreach. Barack Obama — he of “I have a pen and a phone” — chafes against such institutional constraints.

In an earlier era, that resentment might have been understood more plainly for what it is: a rejection of the wisdom of the Founding Fathers. Today, however, an ever-larger segment of the population seems to think that Obama is the only man in Washington actually committed to getting anything done.

Perhaps there’s a limit to how much blame conservatives should place on Obama himself. An imperial president, after all, is less of a threat than a public that refuses to swiftly and decisively rebuke him. The enablers are just as culpable as the perpetrator, if not more so.

Perhaps the real problem is civic in nature. Ask yourself—if you have the stomach—the following questions: How likely do you think the average voter would be to be able to identify the importance of the separation of powers? Of federalism? Of judicial review?

Can we really expect Americans to defend institutions that they don’t understand? Without the necessary civic formation, should we really be surprised when they fall for a charismatic cipher like our current commander-in-chief?

Conservatives are hoping that they’ll find their salvation come Election Day, which, given the undeniable anemia currently besetting the country, is utterly plausible. But conservatives will continue to be disappointed in the future if their only method for defeating liberalism is to wait for a progressive prince to stumble.

The ballot box may be important, but it pales in comparison to the classroom. Until Americans understand the rationale for their institutions — until they understand the incredible craftsmanship with which the Founding Fathers constructed our system of government — we shouldn’t expect charlatans like Obama to lose any of their purchase on the public imagination.

It’s not too optimistic to believe that the American people are still capable of protecting their heritage. But first they have to know what that heritage is.

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first woman nominated for national office by either of the two major U.S. political parties?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"The New York Times was quick out of the blocks with the Democratic pitch that Kamala Harris is a 'pragmatic moderate.' It's pulling your leg.Joe Biden's running mate had the most liberal voting record in the Senate last year -- surpassing even Bernie Sanders -- according to government watchdog GovTrack.Harris advocates late-term abortion, thinks Catholics are not fit to serve on the Supreme Court…[more]
 
 
—Miranda Devine, New York Post
— Miranda Devine, New York Post
 
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Which of the following is most to blame for failure to enact a new national Coronavirus aid package?