This column by ACRU Policy Board member Hans von Spakovsky was published July 29, 2015 by PJ Media.
“The mission of this book, as in my past books, is to persuade as many fellow citizens as possible, through scholarship, facts, and ideas, to avert a looming tragedy — not a Greek Tragedy of the theater and mind, but a real and devastating American tragedy, the loss of the greatest republic known to mankind.”
Mark Levin’s new book will no doubt be a bestseller, just like his previous offerings. But his latest work should be required reading for every recent college or high school grad just starting to make his way in the world, as well as every American voter.
Levin explains in elegant, but easy to understand terms just how Washington and the elites who infest the nation’s capital are stealing our future. Woven into his narrative are both his original analysis of the corruption of our modern state and thoughts on liberty and freedom from great statesmen like James Madison and Edmund Burke.
As Levin says, the “unraveling” of our civil society is “intensifying.”
We have a “rising utopian statism” peddled by “political demagogues and self-appointed masterminds” that is concentrating “governmental power in an increasingly authoritarian and centralized federal Leviathan.” Americans need to realize that “the ruling generation’s governing policies are already forecast to diminish the quality of life of future generations.” From the “massive welfare and entitlement state” that is “expanding and imploding” to the “brazen abandonment of constitutional firewalls and governing limitations,” we are reaching a stage where, “if not appropriately and expeditiously ameliorated, the effects will be dire.”
According to Levin, the “ruling generation” has forgotten the “uncomplicated and cautionary insight” of James Madison in Federalist 51 about the “essential balance between civil society and government restraint.”
As Madison warned, “the difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Yet so “many loving parents,” who Levin acknowledges have a fierce protective instinct towards their children, have, “as part of the ruling generation,” abandoned civil society for “the growing tyranny of a voracious central government that steals their children’s future.”
Many parents are deluding themselves “that their own children’s immediate welfare” can be “detached from the well-being of future generations.” Even those American parents who understand there is a “gathering storm of societal and economic disorder” don’t really know “how to effectively influence the omnipresence and complexity of a massive governing enterprise that is less republican and more autocratic.” And those who like the march toward progressive statism are “immune to regular democratic processes and pressure.” They have “an escalating preference for rule by administrative regulation, executive decree, and judicial fiat as the ends justifies the means.”
It is tomorrow’s generation that will reap the “bleak” consequences. Young Americans “will neither benefit from the government’s untenable programs, into which they are or will also be forced to make ‘contributions,’ nor possess the wherewithal to pay the trillions of dollars in outstanding accumulated debt when the amassed IOU bubble bursts.” It is young people who will experience “the eventual collapse of a colossal government venture [that] will indiscriminately engulf an entire society and economy … resulting in widespread disorder and misery.”
Levin then proceeds to outline the biggest problems endangering America’s future, from the massive debt we have accumulated to the financial insolvency of Social Security, Medicare, and Obamacare. He points out that this is not a future problem, because America is already insolvent today. Levin cites the testimony of an economics professor who says that the United States is “in worse fiscal shape than any developed country, including Greece.” It is tomorrow’s generation that will bear the “devastating consequences.”
In his chapter on Social Security, Levin summarizes the history of its implementation, and the facts and figures regarding its financial problems. As he explains, it is “the largest single component of the federal budget, and perhaps the greatest and most financially devastating burden imposed on younger people and future generations.” He warns that unless it is fixed now, “it is difficult to see how younger people will be left with anything but horrendous debt and broken promises.”
Levin goes through the myriad problems with Medicare and Obamacare that will also eventually destroy the high quality health care we have enjoyed. As he says, “the combination of runaway government-induced costs and the accompanying tightening and concentration of federal bureaucratic control over the most intimate decisions about an individual’s health, and the exacerbation of these conditions as time goes on, plus the deleterious effects such a Rube Goldberg apparatus with labyrinthine rules and regulations have on the quality and timeliness of medical services, auger very poorly for the health, wealth, and overall well-being of younger people and future generations.”
In his chapter on education, Levin details how American public schools are performing poorly and failing despite their “enormous and unparalleled costs.” Levin traces the decline of education to the growth in the power of teachers’ unions as well as the infiltration of the progressive Left into the entire educational infrastructure from grade school through college. The focus of education has shifted from what is best for our students to what is best for administrators, educators, education bureaucrats, labor unions, and “statist indoctrination.”
Levin discusses immigration, particularly the effect it has on our youth because “open-ended immigration takes a considerable toll on the job prospects of younger and less-skilled workers, as well as college-educated graduates.” In addition to lowering wages and employment for American citizens, “unconstrained immigration is a major drain on the immense and already broke welfare state.” Levin also discusses the other big problem in this area: “assimilation no longer means Americanization.” The push for multiculturalism undercuts our civil society because it leads to the self-segregation of ethnic, racial, and religious groups. This separatism is intentional by the statists and their surrogates who “seek political opportunism and racial Balkanization as a means to holding or acquiring governing power.”
When it comes to the environment, Levin does a thorough job of trying to explain to young people that the environmental movement is not about “clean air, clean water, and polar bears.” It has “transmuted into an aggressively nefarious and primitive” anti-capitalistic movement led by self-appointed statists, whom he labels as “degrowthers.” In essence, they want to deindustrialize the world, decrease material production, return to small-scale farming, decree a moratorium on technological innovation, and “implement this utopian vision of radical egalitarian outcomes.”
Today’s youth are caught up in the political correctness of the environmental movement and do not understand that these environmentalists want to return America to a “regressive, primal lifestyle” where they would not “enjoy the abundance of untold human benefits and improvements resulting from entrepreneurship, capitalism, and economic growth.”
Economic bankruptcy is certainly a scary proposition. But Levin’s chapter on national security is even scarier. As he says, “the rising generation will suffer the most egregious afflictions and casualties should the governing generation and public officials fail to competently and adequately carry out their national security, military, and foreign-policy duties.” He runs through the litany of security threats, including Islamic terrorism, Communist China’s extensive military buildup and expansionist designs, Russia’s new aggressiveness, a North Korea led by “an erratic and menacing dictator” and a terrorist Iran “hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Unfortunately, young people are blithely unaware of these dangers since polling shows that 65% of those born between 1981 and 2005 “support reducing military spending in order to preserve spending on social programs.”
Levin’s chapter on the Constitution and the importance of the “faithful adherence to and execution of it by public officials” is a well-written summary of points he has made in prior books on the rule of law and the constitutional limits on the power of the federal government. He explains to the younger generation how important the Constitution and the rule of law are to protecting their “liberty from a tyrannical centralized authority and, conversely, the anarchy of mob rule.” And he tries to warn them that the liberal push for “an idyllic society, while appealing on the surface, exacts a steep price — the disembowelment of the constitutional republic, a result that not so coincidentally serves the interests of those for whom power is intoxicating, despots and democrats alike.”
Levin acknowledges that the younger generation has a favorable view of statism and an activist, expanded government through “the relentless indoctrination and radicalization… on a daily basis and over the course of many years, from kindergarten through twelfth grade to higher education in colleges and universities.”
The irony is that polling shows “there is no age group more enthusiastically reliable and committed by political deed to an activist if not fervent governing elite than the rising generation,” yet there is “no age group more jeopardized by it.”
At the end of the book, Levin calls for a “New Civil Rights movement” to challenge the “tyranny of the status quo.” We need a “rebirth of a vibrant civil society and restoration of a vigorous constitutional republic, along with the essential and simultaneous diminution of the federal government’s sweeping and expanding scope of power and its subsequent containment.” The newest generation of Americans have to become “the largest and most effective group of activists in the nation” for this to happen.
Levin’s exposition on modern America and its bleak future ends on a dramatic note:
“America’s younger people — what do you choose for yourself and future generations? Do you choose liberty or tyranny? And what do you intend to do about it?”
We won’t know the answer to those questions for quite some time. But if enough young Americans read Levin’s book, then perhaps we will get the New Civil Rights movement that we need to save our great republic.