Hanson explores the battle between equality and liberty

Victor Davis Hanson explains for National Review Online readers why a pursuit of “mandated equality” bodes ill for American society.

In his famous admonition about the tyranny of the majority, Tocqueville went on to warn that “Liberty is not the chief and constant object of their desires; equality is their idol: they make rapid and sudden efforts to obtain liberty, and if they miss their aim resign themselves to their disappointment; but nothing can satisfy them except equality, and rather than lose it they resolve to perish.”

If we keep Tocqueville’s advice in mind, we can appreciate why and how the present war against personal liberty in service to mandated equality may become the greatest danger of the 21st century. The theaters of battle already extend to every segment of American life; and every weapon is employed, from government coercion to the progressive media to the Orwellian effort to change the meaning of language itself.

Millions of Americans have lost the liberty to select their own type of health insurance, purchased on their own volition to best match their own assessments of their particular needs. Obamacare — the federal government’s redistributive effort to equalize health care for all — sought to destroy the liberty of many millions in order to ensure a state-directed sameness in care for all. Note also how a redistributive plan that spiked costs, reduced care, and so far has taken away more health coverage than it has provided is named the “Affordable Care Act.” Better to call it the the “Unaffordable Uncaring Edict.”

Most initiatives that Obama has embraced are characterized by going after a suspect group or tradition — targeting particular businesses deemed not sufficiently socially sensitive to workers, focusing on legal gun owners, eroding the military tradition in infantry service of restricting women to non-combat roles, coercing schools that would discipline trouble-makers in class, promoting the suppression of interest rates by the Federal Reserve to reward the many who owe money and punish the fewer who saved some — all on the notion of helping the proverbial “people.”

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