Tuesday, February 23, 2010
American Olympic Hockey GM Brian Burke has dumped some much-needed cold water over the heads of his promising squad:
"We got outchanced, 2-to-1," Burke said. "Our goaltender stole us a game. That's what happened. People can say that Canada didn't play well. I disagree with that. They outchanced us. I thought that, except for the goaltending position, we didn't deserve to win that game last night.In other words, Burke saw his team's 5-3 triumph over the Canadian side for what it was: A mere battle won in the perspective of a larger war that rages on.
Many of Barack Obama's opponents would do well to hear a similar warning.
Megan McArdle, for example, sounds almost complacent in her assessment of the chances that ObamaCare will become law:
Despite having declared the death of the health care bill before almost anything else, I don't want to say that the thing's impossible. But the House has lost three of the votes it used to pass their bill 220-215 . . . which means that you have to persuade someone (probably a Blue Dog) to vote for it, who already voted against it. Progressives have been making the almost-plausible argument that the public is going to treat a vote for the House or Senate bill as a vote for final passage, so Democrats might as well go ahead and pass the thing. But their best argument totally falls apart for those who originally voted no.I think that her analysis of the short-range behavior of our elected officials is probably sound, except that she could be woefully underestimating the power of the ideas that animate many of the Democrats. Many an altruist has been known to commit self-sacrifice when called upon to do what he feels is right. In addition, as I indicated yesterday, the defeat of ObamaCare will not be the end of this particular skirmish by a long shot, anyway.
And then there's an entire article on "Quiet Libertarian Victories" over at RealClear Politics, which outlines several recent legal efforts by various libertarian organizations. (We'll set aside for the moment the merits of the libertarian approach to fundamental ideas, which is to treat them as irrelevant.)
Last week CEI filed suit in federal appeals court challenging the EPA's forthcoming regulation of greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act. This came on the tail of a petition filed by CEI and a few other groups asking the EPA to reconsider its rule in light of the recent Climategate scandal. The idea isn't so much to win in court - though they would take a win, they assure me - but to gum up the works long enough for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski to get a resolution of disapproval through the Senate, which will then be used to force the EPA to back down.This sounds like it could be good news, at least in the short term. But in the long term, we need to disband the EPA (among many other things) -- and the above legal strategy depends on most of the American people continuing to understand the importance of rule by law. Neither of these things can obtain for long in a culture that does not appreciate freedom on a deeper level than ours currently does.
The greatest threat to freedom in America is the fact that the vast majority of those who do appreciate it in some way do not understand its philosophical roots. This weakness is manifest on many levels, including: advocacy of measures that actually threaten freedom, ineffective opposition to collectivism, moral cowardice, and half-measures. These weaknesses stem from several causes, which include some combination of a deficient grasp of the principles themselves, a failure to appreciate their importance, and the psychological weight of uncertainty, which directly results from not really knowing what to do.
Only time, education, and the unstinting efforts of a relatively few intellectuals can address this problem. Like whatever mistakes the Canadian hockey team made Sunday evening, the pragmatism of our elected officials might cause them to destroy our freedom less effectively, and like goaltender Ryan Miller, legal activists might stop a few potshots from time to time. Both of these things do buy us time, but we lose if we don't take our game up a notch.