Back in December I wrote an article for PJ about the HCR battle, contrasting the two sides as a fight between those who value liberty and those who prefer “social justice.”
I still see it that way. As the fight continues now that the bill has passed, the outcome will still depend on how many Americans value liberty over “social justice” (if you don’t know what I’m referring to by that term, follow the link and read the piece).
I used to think there were more of the former than the latter in this country. But now I wonder, I truly do. It’s been a long time since we’ve taught our children what liberty is, how to protect it, how easy it is to lose it, and what happens to people when they do. We have raised an entire generation without that knowledge; we have stopped transferring the most basic values of our own country to them.
When that happens, how can we continue to protect ourselves from encroachments on liberty? It’s no accident that Obama’s support was extremely heavy among the young. They may learn from personal experience what it means to lose liberty—or they may not care, having never understood in the first place.
There are other issues than liberty or social justice with HCR, of course, and they are purely economic. But those will probably take quite some time to develop. In the meantime, will the aroused American public go back to sleep, or be continually distracted by new crises and new bills to ponder—and perhaps to fear?