Tag: obama

The Danger of Giving a Good Man Power

Jack Shields | United States

I recently re-watched Black Panther, and it’s a solid 7/10. Good but not great. Someone had to say it. The Dark Knight is the best superhero movie ever, and that is a fact not an opinion. And anyone that says Black Panther is the best MCU movie desperately needs to rewatch Ironman, The Avengers, The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, and Infinity War. But besides being a good movie, Black Panther shows us the dangers of allowing a good man to have power; teaching us that we need to preserve our system of checks and balances despite our desires to have items on our own personal legislative agenda passed.

The movie begins with T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) becoming the king of Wakanda after the death of his father T’Chaka (John Kani) in Civil War. T’Chaka was a good king, and it appears T’Challa will follow in his footsteps. In fact, Wakanda has been blessed with an abundance of good kings. Through their wisdom and intelligence, and a fair bit of Adamantium, Wakanda has built itself into secluded paradise superior to all other countries with technology that makes Tony Stark’s suits seem crude and elementary. This paradise becomes disrupted by T’Chaka’s cousin, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), who successfully challenges T’Chaka for the throne, becoming the new king of Wakanda. Overnight, Wakanda goes from a peaceful, isolationist nation to power-hungry nation preparing for war. Despite many powerful people such as General Okoye (Danai Gurira) wishing to stop Killmonger from pursuing his evil goals, they were not only helpless to do so but forced to comply. It wasn’t until T’Challa miraculously reappears after escaping death and taking back the mantle of the Black Panther that peace is restored. How could a country go from paradise to nightmare, to paradise so quickly? It had a weak system of government that gave the man in charge too much power. T’Challa was an absolute monarch. A tyrant. A benevolent tyrant, but a tyrant all the same. The system was foolishly designed to give the king absolute, unchecked power and pray he uses it wisely and mercifully.  As soon as a king came into power with malicious intent, there was nothing that could be done. Because the mechanisms which were necessary to properly restrict liberty and impose tyranny were already in place.

Black Panther is, of course, a comic book movie, and it’s not likely as much time was spent making sure Wakanda’s government was designed to protect liberty as was spent making sure Black Panther looked awesome when he punched someone. But the lesson that we shouldn’t create mechanisms which can be used to impose tyranny when a good person is in power stands and is further supported upon examination of the most brutal dictatorships in human history, the most extreme example being Adolf Hitler. Germany under the Weimar Republic was not some free paradise which turned into a genocidal nightmare as soon as Hitler showed up. The mechanisms Hitler used were already there albeit used to a lesser extent. As reported by National Review’s Stephen P. Halbrook, “In 1931, Weimer authorities… authorized the registration of all firearms and the registration thereof, if required for ‘public safety.’” In 1933, Hitler and the Nazis took charge and promptly used this law to conduct mass searches and confiscations of the firearms of political dissidents and Jews. From there the Nazis were able to revoke the gun licenses for Social Democrats, ban independent gun clubs while arresting their leaders, and prohibit Jews from being given firearm permits, all without having to change a single law. Hitler was also able to gain absolute political power with the laws of his predecessors. As shown in Nazis Conspiracy and Aggression Vol. I, Ch. VII on February 28, 1933, the Nazis were able to use Article 48(2) of the German Constitution to suspend Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 which were the rights to personal freedom, inviolability of the home, protection of the secrecy of letters and other communications, freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and the right to private property respectively. From there the constitution was utilized to make the executive power infallible and uncheckable, and Germany became a one-party state. The stage was set for the horrors to come. This was all because the German people created a government with too much power and relied on the fact that their leaders would be too nice to use the power to its full potential.

In a less extreme example, this problem is relevant to how we as a nation are treating the Presidency. The President is becoming more and more powerful and is now seen by many as our great leader who will solve all our problems for us as we cede him more and more legislative power. Want tariffs, immigration reform, foreign agreements, or to attack a sovereign nation? Forget Congress, the President will do it! This has led to an epidemic of having an unstable quasi-monarch instead of a President. President Obama had “a pen and a phone” which was used to blow up Libya, create DACA, join the Paris Agreement, and create the Iran Deal. All while Republicans sat there horrified and Democrats cheered. But a legacy built by a pen and a phone can be torn down by a pen and a phone as we are seeing currently. President Trump has chosen to use his pen and phone to impose tariffs, blow up Syrian military bases, consider ending birthright citizenship, get out of the Paris Agreement, and get out of the Iran Deal. All while those once cheering Democrats sit horrified and the Republicans have their time to cheer. A system of instability has been built wherein major policies with huge implications are rewritten based on the opinions of one man every four to eight years, as they amass more and more power. A worst case scenario where the Presidency is growing more and more powerful, and instead of getting another Obama type or Trump type we get a Hitler type, who now already has the mechanisms at his disposal to successfully implement his desired tyranny.

Any system, no matter how poorly designed, can survive and quite possibly thrive under a Washington, Lincoln, or T’Challa. But when designing a system of government we ought to strive to create one that can endure a Hitler, Stalin, or Killmonger. We have a natural urge to get things which are important to us done, and if we like the guy in power we are willing to give him the power necessary to do just that. But the positive consequences of a good man wielding absolute power are clearly outweighed by the negative consequences of a bad man with such power. Those Republicans and Democrats who cheer when their guy does something they like should think more long-term and realize that eventually the other guy is going to be in power and will also be able to wield that power- and they aren’t going to like how he uses it. When wondering if a leader you like should have more power, consider their rival, and if you would not be comfortable with both of them having such power, don’t give it to them. Keep the President only having the powers absolutely necessary to run the executive and nothing more and you keep your freedom. Because you’re not giving the power to Trump, you’re giving it to the Office of the Presidency, and you may not always like the President and he may not always like you. Learn to love the gridlock. Love checks and balances. We have been blessed with the greatest system of government ever devised which has kept tyranny at bay. Let’s keep it that way.


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Dale Kerns is Pennsylvania’s Best Chance at Liberty

Francis Folz | United States

Pennsylvania has a woeful history of nominating less than deserving candidates to run for its senior US Senate seat. In 2006, the GOP once again nominated the socially conservative neocon Rick Santorum to run for a third term, which Pennsylvanians decisively denied him by a 17.3 percent margin loss to incumbent Bob Casey Jr, his Democrat opponent.

In 2012, Tom Smith successfully won the Republican primary, despite being a Democrat for 42 years and raising taxes on his community nearly 10 times, according to some sources. Pennsylvanians rejected Smith’s candidacy by 9.1 percent that November, as he lost to Democrat Bob Casey Jr. Comparatively, Mitt Romney finished behind Obama by only 5.4 percent in the Keystone Commonwealth.

And in 2018, it appears the Republican Party is going to hand Bob Casey Jr. yet another term because, apparently, the best Republicans can offer is Lou Barletta. Despite 41 percent of Pennsylvanians approving of Bob Casey’s work and only a dismal 30 percent believing Bob deserves a third term, Senator Casey maintains double-digit leads over Lou Barletta in every poll.

In fact, RealClearPolitics’ average for the race indicates Mr. Casey would crush Mr. Barletta by a 16 percent landslide. The entire Swamp, from Mike Kelly to the Pennsylvania GOP, even President Trump, has endorsed Lou, despite Pennsylvania’s objection.

FreedomWorks and Conservative Review are two right-leaning, liberty-oriented websites that provide scorecards for every federal politician. Both websites are nonpartisan and analyze key votes our legislators partake in and compare the results to how they align with American ideals such as our Constitution, liberty, privacy, and free enterprise.

Lou Barletta currently has a 59% score with FreedomWorks in 2018 (his lifetime score is an appalling 51%). If you ask Conservative Review, he fairs even worse with a 43% F. To put those numbers in perspective, Bob Casey Jr.’s 2018 FreedomWorks score is 9% (he has a 4% lifetime score) and a 6% F from Conservative Review.

There are innumerable examples of Bob and Lou align against Pennsylvania’s common good. Both men voted for the $1.3 trillion omnibus (money you, me, and our grandchildren don’t have.)

Both legislators voted to trample our 4th Amendment right to privacy by reauthorizing the bulk collection of every single phone call, email, text message, and social media post you have ever generated known as FISA 702. 9/11 was almost two decades ago, and every al-Qaeda member that took part in the heart-breaking, despicable tragedy is dead, so I don’t know how either candidate can justify continuing to spy on innocent Americans.

In addition, both politicians voted to reinstate wasteful, taxpayer-funded earmarks (remember the bridge to nowhere? Yeah, that’s an example of an earmark). Lou voted against the USA RIGHTS Act which would have strengthened every Americans’ constitutional and human 4th Amendment right to privacy.

Earlier this year, Bob Casey voted in step with the establishment, voting against the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. The Swamp loathed that bill because it would have forced the Fed to come clean on its role in the Great Recession, what it spends trillions of dollars on, and what actions it has taken to lead us towards another great recession. One would think the GOP and DNC wouldn’t support such subpar quality candidates, but sadly, that is not the case.

“We need… no pale pastels, but bold colors” – Ronald Reagan

It is for these reasons that commonsense Pennsylvanians must ditch the two parties and vote for the real anti-establishment, anti-swamp candidate Dale Kerns. Mr. Kerns is a robust advocate for liberty and privacy, the only candidate in the race who can boast that. After all, his motto is “Nobody can run your life better than YOU!” That alone should convince commonsense Pennsylvania’s to abandon the two establishment candidates who repeatedly vote to control our lives and take away our state’s sovereignty.

If you go to Mr. Kerns’ website and read through the issues he highlights, it’s pretty clear Pennsylvania should elect such a principled man. For example, Bob Casey and Lou Barletta have done nothing to stop our federal prison population from exploding to 800% its size from 40 years ago, which has a profound impact on all people, especially those of color. Mr. Kerns approaches drug abuse as the disease it is by sponsoring treatment instead of imprisonment over a victimless crime.

When it comes to the economy and jobs, Mr. Kerns wants to eliminate the tyrannical IRS and revise our tax code even further so it is as simple as a postcard. Also, he confronts the Federal Reserve, something neither Bob Casey nor Lou Barletta would ever do, and its role in devaluing our currency 96% since 1913. There are plenty more positions on Mr. Kerns’ website which make it abundantly clear why he is the only candidate in 2018 deserving of Pennsylvanian’s support.

Mr. Kerns caught many Twitter users by surprise October 1st by proposing to amend the constitution to abolish eminent domain, property taxes (you know, the rent you pay to live on Uncle Sam’s land), and legalized government theft known as civil asset forfeiture. It is also worthy to note he is the only candidate to propose shrinking the size of government by eliminating multiple unconstitutional agencies and departments.

But Third Parties…

But you may still be thinking, yes he may be the best candidate in the race, but he has no chance of winning. In 2016, nobody thought Trump was going to reach 270 electoral votes, let alone receive over 300 and be the first Presidential Republican candidate to carry Pennsylvania since 1988.

The idea that a third party candidate can’t win because the individual is running in a third party is the biggest con in the two-party system playbook. You see, the two-party duopoly is never going to admit if enough people vote their conscience, a third party candidate can and will win because they would lose their stranglehold on our election outcomes.

It is no wonder Gary Johnson was barred from the presidential debates in 2016, despite numerous polls showing the majority of Americans yearning for a third person on the stage. The D.C. establishments knew if a third person presented ideas Americans could rally behind, Gary Johnson could have been elected, endangering our archaic system.

The logic the Swamp employs to eliminate competition is that third-party candidates can’t win elections for no other reason than the individual is running under a third party banner. Thus, the majority of voters don’t believe a third party can win an election, which is why a plurality of people don’t vote for a third party candidate. If the majority of citizens believe this lie, it perpetuates itself until that is the only outcome in every election.

What about my affiliated party…

It’s in the DNC’s and GOP’s best interest that we don’t vote for their candidates. If Pennsylvanians continue their complacent support of poor, undeserving candidates, it only emboldens the two parties to continue subjecting us to shoddy choices.

According to all polls conducted thus far, Lou Barletta trails Casey by over 10 points or more. So theoretically, doesn’t Mr. Kerns have the same odds of winning as Mr. Barletta? I mean, statistically, right now both would stand to lose against Mr. Casey.

Conceptualize for a second that only 20% of Pennsylvanians decide enough is enough, and we are not going to lend our votes to substandard candidates. The results would look something like 46% Bob Casey, 34% Lou Barletta, & 20% Dale Kerns.

In future elections, both parties would be forced to nominate better candidates since it’d be evident Pennsylvanians of all strides will not tolerate poor-quality contenders. The GOP would be coerced to reconcile and nominate a candidate in 2024 that has the potential to win that other 20% of voters, and same with the DNC.

So in other words, voting for Dale Kerns is the only way to ensure that our two mainstream parties don’t continue to give us mediocre choices in future elections. And since 47% of Americans are willing to vote for a third party, if enough Pennsylvanians decide to swing for the fences and elect Dale, Mr. Kerns will win, forcing the other two parties to put up even better, more competitive candidates in the future.

The future of Pensylvania…

Now more than ever, Pennsylvanians must choose which means more to us. Is it our principles, future generations, and our country’s wellbeing or is it our mainstream, elitist political parties, the Swamp, and the “lesser of the two evils”?

Evil is always evil, no matter how lesser it may seem. We have given our consent to mediocrity over and over again to the point where Republicans might as well cross out Lou Barletta’s name and replace it with “Bob Casey Jr-lite”.

I believe my principles, the future of my children not yet born, and our magnificent country are worth more than falling in line behind the red or blue team. That is why I will be voting for Dale Kerns and why every Pennsylvanian must rally around him too, no matter the preconceived odds of him winning.

My biggest regret would be trying to explain to my grandchildren my political party meant more to me than my principles and their future, and in the end, my party did nothing for me and that is why their future is so bleak.

“One man with courage is a majority” – Thomas Jefferson


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The Republican and Democrat Agendas are Hypocritical

By Ian Brzeski | United States

Disclaimer: When I refer to Republicans and Democrats, I’m not talking about every single person who aligns with the Republican or Democratic party. Rather, I am talking about their platforms as a whole as well as their “leaders” and hypocritical followers.

Both the Republican and Democratic platform are hypocritical in every sense of the term. Whether it is their agenda or on specific topics at hand, they allow themselves to fall onto multiple contradictions and fallacies in their arguments. For example, Republicans and Democrats both display hypocrisy when it comes to the issues of guns and immigration. Republicans are quick to push their agenda against illegal immigration when an illegal kills somebody because, according to them, illegal immigration allows those who like to murder and rape people to enter the US. They argue that if we had stronger deportation measures and a border wall, then many individual citizens such as Mollie Tibbetts would still be alive. Democrats are quick to push their agenda for gun control when a shooting happens because, according to them, guns and gun owners are dangerous and often kill many people. They say how if we had more gun control, then many of the victims in the mass shootings would still be alive such as the students who passed in Parkland.

Republicans defend guns by saying that Democrats are just trying to push their agenda when a horrible tragedy such as a mass shooting happens. Republicans say it is vile and disgusting how Democrats would try to push their agenda on gun control instead of showing respect to the victims. They claim that it is a societal problem and not a gun problem. People kill people; guns do not kill people, and besides, people are just going to get guns regardless.

Democrats defend illegal immigration by saying that Republicans are just trying to push their agenda when a horrible tragedy such as the murder of a girl from Iowa happens. Democrats say it is vile and disgusting how Republicans would try to push their agenda on stronger borders instead of showing respect to the victims. They claim that it is a societal problem and not an illegal immigration problem. People kill people; illegals are not the only people who kill people in this country.

Republicans and Democrats make the same argument when substituting the word(s) “guns” with “illegal immigration.” Who knew that the majority of Republicans and Democrats are not that much different? They use the same argument on various issues. They even both bash each other on how they portray their stances. To an extent, the parties also fall subject to the slippery slope fallacy when describing how guns/illegal immigration are the causes of the death of various people.

The slippery slope fallacy is a logical fallacy that implies that a small action will lead to a much more significant action with enormous consequences. Saying that having less secure borders will lead to more murders is a solid example of this fallacy and the same goes for saying that the sale of firearms will lead to more murders.

Who is the Bigger Hypocrite?

Most Republicans are bigger hypocrites than the Democrats. They claim to support small government except for when it comes to:

  • The wall across the Mexican border
  • The Space Force
  • A stronger governmental police force
  • A massive military
  • Tariffs
  • Military parades
  • The War on Drugs
  • The War on Terror
  • Trump regulating social media
  • TSA
  • NSA
  • DEA
  • ICE
  • And many more

The only difference with the Republicans and the Democrats here is that they disagree with what should be funded by the government. For every government program defunded by Republicans, another government program is funded that fits the Republicans’ agenda. At least the Democrats openly admit that they are for a bigger and stronger government.

Democrats could just as quickly say the phrase “Taxation is theft,” and it would still have the same meaning when Republicans say it. Establishment Democrats and establishment Republicans are the same; they are all pro-war and pro-big government hawks. Obama openly says he is against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and then proceeds to bomb more countries than any of his predecessors. The Republicans claim to be for smaller government and pro-life, yet when Senator Rand Paul introduces a bill to defund Planned Parenthood, the bill does not pass despite Republicans having the majority in the House and the Senate. Does this sound like a small government platform?

The fact of the matter is that the majority of the Republicans preach a pro-liberty position, but their actions and ideas say otherwise. However, not every single Republican is one of these establishment politicians. There are still few Republicans out there who stay true to their pro-liberty and small government agenda, such as Senator Rand Paul, Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. Justin Amash, and Austin Petersen to name a few.

Stuck in the Same Cycle

Regardless of who is in charge, the government still become stronger, taxes and spending increase, and our national debt continues to grow. We have a “pro-liberty” president who keeps fighting the war on terror, keeps funding the war on drugs, has the notion that tariffs are good for the economy, and now wants to start printing money to get us out of our national debt. Nothing of recent has changed regarding the United States. Voting Republican or voting Democrat will be practically voting for the same person the majority of the time. Not voting for a third party because you are afraid that it is giving away a vote to the “rival” candidate may be one of the worst excuses to use because either way you are most likely voting for big government establishment hawks.

As a result of this two-party system and hypocritical nature of the parties, the government continually grows into a stronger, more coercive force that inhibits on our personal freedoms to make decisions for us. Thinking that voting third party is a waste is a dangerous ideology. We will never see a real change by always voting in these establishment candidates. We will have the same problems that we continuously complain about, nothing will get changed, we will continue to stay in the same cycle that we have been going through, and people are too blind to realize this.

Republicans and Democrats have the false sense that they are pitted against each other. There are other options out there, and people need to realize that. People need to stop voting based on parties and need to start voting based on principle.  Watch a debate between Republicans and Democrats, and it is easy to see that the discussion just turns into a name calling blame game. It is one of the most pathetic things a person could ever see. Their arguments have no real substance or conviction, and they always seem to attack the person as an individual and not their ideas.

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the losers” – Socrates

Republican or Democrat, it doesn’t matter. We are always going to be stuck in a never ending cycle if people do not stop blindly following party positions. It does not matter whether you identify as a Conservative, Progressive, Libertarian, or Socialist. Do your research and vote for who you think is going to bring about the most significant possible change to our crooked establishment system. Don’t vote for somebody based on their party or if they are a lesser evil, vote for somebody you believe in.


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What Canada Can Teach America About Peace, Order & Good Government

By Craig Axford | United States

According to the Canadian historian John Bartlett Brebner, “Americans are benevolently ignorant about Canada, while Canadians are malevolently well informed about the United States.” When my wife and I initially began contemplating a move up north the first half of Brebner’s statement certainly applied to us.

We had visited Canada two or three times, so we were confident that culturally and linguistically most of the country was similar enough to ensure adapting wouldn’t be too difficult. And of course, there was single-payer healthcare. Like every other American we had an opinion on that topic. In our case, it was a favorable one. If affordable healthcare wasn’t going to come to us, we were willing to try going to it.

But beyond a very basic understanding of its healthcare system and the fact that most of the country spoke English, we lacked even a fundamental knowledge of Canadian history. The cultural attitudes that made something like universal healthcare possible north of the 49th parallel while it remained maddeningly impossible below it was even more of a mystery. After living there for seven of the last eight years we are still figuring that out. Now, as we prepare to return to Canada again after a year in the United States, we are looking forward to continuing our field research.

The decision to move north can best be described as prompted more by a push than a pull. Political discourse had already deteriorated in the US by the time we left 2010. In spite of the wave that brought the Democrats back into control of Congress in 2006 and the financial crisis that helped propel Obama into the White House in 2008, getting a debate on proposals such as a public healthcare option remained impossible. In addition, the Tea Party movement was tightening its hold on the Republican party and public figures like Donald Trump were actively promoting crazy theories about things like President Obama’s birthplace.

I had been working for the DNC as a party organizer but felt frustrated as attempts to hold the party’s “big tent” together consistently translated into watered down messages that everyone could more or less agree on but no one could get excited about. The vision once so eloquently and proudly expressed by leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy seemed increasingly unlikely to return in my lifetime.

I was tired of hearing bold ideas being consistently dismissed as “impractical” by Democrats and attacked as “socialist” by Republicans. If other developed countries had managed to implement successful programs that few US politicians were willing to seriously consider, then it seemed a safe bet that these nations must necessarily have some cultural or political advantage the US lacked. Canada was the closest, most convenient, and most affordable option available under the circumstances.

Shortly after our arrival in 2010, I returned to school as a student at the University of Victoria. Among my first courses was a class in Canadian government. My understanding of the parliamentary system at the time is best described as a vague impression formed by American high school history courses that focused on the Revolutionary War period and included some antipathy for the monarchy. In the years since I had gotten a glimpse now and then of question periods in the British House of Commons that left me wishing C-Span’s congressional coverage could be as entertaining but unconvinced having a prime minister was necessarily preferable to having a president.

The acronym POGG is so familiar to Canadians that it never occurred to the professor teaching my Canadian government class that she should actually use the full phrase once or twice for the benefit of uninformed students like me. To the only American in the room, POGG sounded like a children’s toy or a game rather than the acronym for a phrase found in the British North America Act of 1867.

Peace, order and good government (POGG) was, it turned out, a line commonly inserted by the British Parliament throughout the 19th century into laws granting colonies greater autonomy from London. In Canada’s case, it was written into section 91 of the British North America Act. Section 91 describes the extent of the Parliament of Canada’s authority. As you might imagine given there are 90 sections that precede it, it lacks the lofty rhetorical quality that America’s founders successfully achieved in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the US Constitution.

“It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces; and for greater Certainty, but not so as to restrict the Generality of the foregoing Terms of this Section, it is hereby declared that (notwithstanding anything in this Act) the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say, [a list of 29 enumerated powers follows]

But in spite of its placement deep into the pages of the British North America Act and the context, Canadians have given the phrase “Peace, order and good government” roughly the same status Americans give to “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It was upon realizing the emphasis Canadians place upon POGG that many of my own frustrations with the United States became clearer.

I came of age during the Reagan years. During most of my lifetime “good government” has been something American conservatives have been willing to consider a possibility only if it comes in a very small package. Ronald Reagan liked to refer to the sentence “I’m with the government and I’m here to help” as “the nine most terrifying words” an American could hear. Some of us are convinced to this day that it was his administration’s primary mission to prove it.

There’s a significant qualitative difference between a debate about the minimum a government can/should do and one about the maximum. The former involves deliberating about the question of how low it’s reasonable to go while the latter is contemplating how high it’s possible to climb. For all the current talk about making America great again, its reach exceeding its grasp has never been in its problem.

Obviously, there are many millions of people living in the United States that don’t share the Republican conviction that government can’t be a force for good or that it’s relative smallness matters more than function. The difference between the US and Canada isn’t that one country has people that have faith in their government while the other doesn’t. The primary difference appears to be that in one country the debate about government’s responsibility to be a positive force is still raging while in the other all the political parties, including the Conservative Party, start every policy debate with that as their premise.

Canada is an evolutionary culture, not a revolutionary one. As such, it’s no surprise that the phrase it so strongly identifies with is less stirring than “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and can be affectionately referred to by its acronym without the slightest hint of disrespect. Moving to Canada made me conscious for the first time that I prefer evolution to revolution and gave me the reason why. Adaptation means allowing people time to reflect upon the society they want and to make the necessary adjustments. Revolution, on the other hand, involves a sudden reactionary change that leaves the details to be worked out later. America is often referred to as an ongoing experiment in democracy precisely because more than two centuries after its successful revolt those details are still being worked out.

Of course, the words “Peace, order and good government” are not by themselves a panacea. Like “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” the aspiration is left to each citizen and generation to define. Canadian governments, like their American counterparts, have been guilty of promoting systemic racism and other injustices. Both church and state forced generations of indigenous children into residential schools in an effort to “civilize” and “Christianize” them. The effects of this practice continue to be felt within Canada’s native communities and were the subject of a truth and reconciliation commission whose findings the country is still working to implement.

But that there’s been a truth and reconciliation commission at all is a reason for hope. In contrast, the United States has strenuously resisted launching any similar effort to reconcile itself to its history of slavery and the genocidal atrocities committed against its own native population. Exceptionalism and rugged individualism remain very much a part of the American myth and both of those beliefs keep getting in the way of a true reckoning with the injustices of the past.

The name Canada derives from the Huron-Iroquois word “kanata,” which means “village” or “settlement.” In a very real sense that it took a village to raise a child was never nearly as controversial there. On our first Canada Day in British Columbia, we noticed that the country’s annual celebration of its autonomy had a more communal feel to it. As we traveled into downtown Victoria to join the throngs gathering to celebrate people broke out into choruses of Oh Canada! on the bus. On the lawn of BC’s parliament, citizens gathered to listen to the performers on the large outdoor stage and dressed in red and white t-shirts to compete with other major cities across the country to form the largest human Canadian flag.

This was a city coming together to celebrate their country in a way we had rarely if ever seen in the United States. It was a day of organized chaos that included everything from browsing at the booths merchants had set up along the waterfront to watching street performers and drinking beer on the outdoor patios of local pubs and restaurants. I was used to family get-togethers on the 4th of July, but not such large community ones. This was as much a commemoration of humanity and cosmopolitanism as it was of Canada. Village or settlement indeed.

In August of 2017, we encountered a visa snafu. Somewhere along the line a box that should have been checked wasn’t or one that shouldn’t have been was. As a result, my application for a new student visa was denied and I needed to leave the country. My entry into a master’s program at Royal Roads University was deferred for a year while we worked it out. In a few days we’ll be crossing the border into Canada again at which point we’ll know for sure whether we have all our I’s dotted and T’s crossed. This time, we hope, everything is in order. We have preliminary approval so we’re optimistic.

It’s not that we don’t love the United States. We do. But we like having a parliament with members from five parties instead of a Congress with members from two (Bernie Sanders and Angus King notwithstanding). Nor will we miss the gridlock that has come to define US politics and which divided government is literally designed to perpetuate. America’s ongoing debate about the role of government has once again devolved into a tribal partisan battle that challenges the value of even having democratic institutions in the first place.

Canada isn’t perfect, but as far as we can tell it has at least put many of the fundamental questions that America continues to wrestle with behind it. That’s not to say Canada is immune to the same undemocratic populist sickness that currently infects its southern neighbor, but it does have a stronger immune system.


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Obama, Freedom and Identity Politics

By K. Tymon Zhou | South Africa

As identity politics grow more popular to the american left, an unlikely individual may be able to help our racial divisions.

How can societies reconcile multicultural harmony with unity? At times, it seems impossible to achieve both of these noble aims.  The progressive left seeks to prioritize “inclusion” and “diversity”, but creates only a restless frenzy. This frenzy takes the form of identity politics, a corrosive influence in American life.  Recently, an unlikely source challenged this scourge: former president Barrack Obama. On Tuesday, President Obama delivered a speech in Johannesburg, South Africa at the Nelson Mandela Lecture. This speech expressed a fundamental optimism that diversity can exist with unity. Conservatives and libertarians should adopt this approach as they seek to restrain identity politics.

Firstly, Obama acknowledged historic injustices describing the colonialism that was prevalent in Mandela’s youth :

such a view of the world – that certain races, certain nations, certain groups were inherently superior, and that violence and coercion is the primary basis for governance, that the strong necessarily exploit the weak, that wealth is determined primarily by conquest – that view of the world was hardly confined to relations between Europe and Africa, or relations between whites and blacks. Whites were happy to exploit other whites when they could. And by the way, blacks were often willing to exploit other blacks.

It is surprising that Obama refers to oppression within the same racial groups. In the particular narrative, imperialism and oppression are not exclusively European sins. Instead, they are presented as universal. This runs to contrary to liberal identity politics which states that to be an oppressor, all one must do is to simply belong to an “advantaged” group.  Thus, liberal identity politics ignores the oppression that can occur within minority groups ( i.e blacks exploiting other blacks). Such a view is a horrific over-simplification. Moreover, it ignores the situational diversity within “advantaged” groups. This only fuels animosity between groups. Instead of seeing oppression in terms of identity, one must see it in terms of action. Obama’s more nuanced perspective recognizes this.

Secondly, Obama argues that democracy can resolve such injustices:

I believe in a vision of equality and justice and freedom and multi-racial democracy, built on the premise that all people are created equal, and they’re endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And I believe that a world governed by such principles is possible and that it can achieve more peace and more cooperation in pursuit of a common good.

Despite its liberal source, libertarians and conservatives have readily embraced this message. Their primary focus is securing greater freedom and to protect inalienable rights. Such a goal inherently works towards a common good. In a magnificently miraculous manner, freedom created unity.  The same protection that grants Sikhs a right to self-expression grants Christian bakers that same right. In democracies, all groups can pursue these freedoms.

Ironically, Obama’s fellow liberals have forgotten this fundamental truth. They doubt that there is a common good. Consider the contemplation of two Harvard Crimson opinion writers,  Salma Abdelrahman and Nicholas P. Whittaker, devout progressive liberals:

My guiding light in the fight for justice is a vision for a world in which Black liberation does not have to ride on the coattails of white self-interest, a world in which the cries of Black and Brown folk are more than enough to change it…

If our battle against oppression must seek the permission of our masters, then are we not simply running in circles?

To these progressive liberals, the “common good” is a mere rhetorical device designed by the “oppressor”  to prevent progress. There is a certain demented logic to their reasoning. In their view, minorities are surrounded by oppressors. Consequently, there is no “we” between the oppressors and the oppressed. Therefore, the oppressed should not seek a compromise with their overlords, they should simply gain power for themselves.  At its core, this may sound appealing.  It offers an opportunity to create utopia without the hard work of building a democratic consensus.  Perhaps these bold visionaries should abandon the premise of believing in democracy.  There are alternative systems in which a minority can pursue its own goals without compromising with a majority: aristocracies, monarchies, and dictatorships of all stripes obey this principle. To avoid compromises, they brutally suppress freedom. Such is the dark road that toxic identity politics can lead.

Thankfully, such a road is not inevitable. As Obama recognized, there are brighter and more beautiful paths ahead if we embrace the unifying force of freedom. Through freedom, societies can reconcile multicultural harmony with unity.

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