Jefferson's enlightened liberty v Clinton's elitist statism
By Mark Alexander
The degradation of enlightenment, particularly the corruption of public opinion by those entrusted as its best stewards — the media — is nothing new.
The Enlightenment generally refers to the 18th Century, that Age of Reason which gave rise to our Declaration of Independence and the prescription of Liberty and Rule of Law as enshrined in our Constitution. These precepts have been "supported and defended" by generations of American Patriots ever since.
Thomas Jefferson, a master of reason during that age, and our Declaration's principal author, noted that when the people are enlightened, tyranny and oppression are vanquished. But he also understood that the opposite is true — that an unenlightened public is the greatest threat to Liberty.
Jefferson was the most ardent defender of enlightenment by way of media and educational institutions, but he soon found that Liberty was safe only to the extent that those institutions were free from the siren's song of tyranny.
He wrote, "Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." But he also observed, "It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press" when it comes to "discrimination between truth and falsehood," and, "The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood."
At the end of his first presidential term in 1805, Jefferson lamented the power of the surrogate press as wielded by his political opponents: "During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted."
He concluded, "Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own Liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree."
Indeed, the enlightenment of We, the People, has ebbed and flowed for 200 years since our Republic's founding. But the advent of an Orwellian "mass media" wielding supreme power and influence over public opinion poses a much greater threat to Liberty today than at any time in our nation's history.
Today, only the most delusional partisan would deny that the press and our institutions of higher learning are dominated by a persistent bias in support of statism. In other words, they are abjectly opposed to Liberty and enlightenment. That bias most often takes the form of elitism, and the belief that all citizens of "lesser" heritage or learning require the direction of the state in all matters — ostensibly for their own protection.
While both Democrat and Republican political parties endeavor to control the media message, the mainstream media in modern America favors Socialist Democrat policies in opposition to the enlightened First Principles of individual freedom, rights and responsibilities, and free enterprise advocated by our Founders.
The irrevocable terminus of that institutional bias is statist tyranny.
This is certainly true in the case of Hillary Clinton, who built her political fortunes on obfuscation and prevarication and who relies heavily on mass media bias to sustain the illusion that she is "of the people" rather than above them.
Clinton's elitist superiority emerges in some form at every political stump speech. She marginalizes those who do not comport with her party-line views, as exemplified by her recent reference to Trump supporters as "a basket of deplorables." She views those who oppose her agenda as "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it," and insists, "some of those folks, they are irredeemable."
As I noted after she delivered that condemnation, Clinton's Leftmedia sycophants defended her claim, characterizing it as a "gaffe." But a gaffe is defined as "an unintentional remark; a blunder," and this was no gaffe. It captured perfectly the utter contempt with which Clinton and her elitist cadres view anyone below their economic and academic standing.
This week, Clinton's most influential Beltway propagandist, The Washington Post, seconded her opinion of those who have not pledged allegiance to her. That assessment came in an opinion piece masquerading as news under the headline, "Want to know why Trump's winning Ohio?" The subtext reads, "Drink a beer with 'the deplorables.'"
According to WashPo's National Political Correspondent, James Hohmann, despite the fact Trump is sliding in the key state polls after being outgunned in the first presidential debate, Ohio has so many stupid people that Trump still holds a lead. "The GOP nominee's strength can be explained," argues Hohmann, "by his extraordinary popularity with white men who did not go to college."
Those stupid white men...
Hohmann, who refined his "enlightened" leftist political bent at Politico, goes on to make his "stupid" Trump supporter case by citing author J.D. Vance, an Ohio native whose book "Hillbilly Elegy" is "all the rage in D.C. right now." Vance, a former Marine and Yale alumni, says the GOP nominee is an "opioid for the masses," concluding, "What Trump offers is an easy escape from the pain. ... [His] promises are the needle in America's collective vein."
Vance, a regular contributor on the pages of Trump's most vociferous conservative detractor, National Review, offers many deeply valid observations about the challenges and afflictions of working-class Americans — particularly those he grew up among in Ohio.
But according to Hohmann, "The most provocative argument in [Vance's] book is that working-class whites don't take enough personal responsibility for the horrible situations they find themselves in." Hohmann's point, of course, is to drive home the notion that Trump supporters in Ohio, and elsewhere, are too stupid to take care of themselves. He notes further that prolonged economic stagnation "breeds a sense of learned helplessness."
Now, for the record, just which political party is it that has been breeding "a sense of learned helplessness" for most of the last century, particularly on urban poverty plantations in every major city across America — the effluent of The Great Society?
Of course, as is the case with most left-elites like Clinton, Hohmann is clueless to the fact that he just grossly insulted all working-class Americans.
But what Clinton and Hohmann fail to grasp from their wealthy, educated leftist perches is that everything they take for granted in their lives — from flipping on a light switch to having bread in the cupboard, from the printing presses of their morning rag to the maintenance of their expensive foreign sedans and hybrids — depends entirely on the "unwashed masses," the "ignorant working-class" Americans whom they view with such disdain.
The key word in that last sentence is "working," because most of Clinton's supporters are net consumers of government services, not producers of the taxes that pay for those services. And indeed, if the Obama/Clinton policies of the last eight years are extended into the next, there will be evermore consumers.
So, for their benefit, allow me to excerpt a few lines from a profile of grassroots Americans, and thereby remind Clinton and her fellow elites just who those working folks really are:
That is a snapshot of the "deplorables" whom Clinton and her media minions so wantonly insult with their elitist derogatory references — the staple of contemporary leftist "enlightenment." They have largely succeeded in achieving with their constituencies, what Jefferson feared most, that "our present state of liberty [would be] a short-lived possession," if the people were unable to distinguish "between truth and falsehood," because the press has "abandoned itself to falsehood."
Our nation is at a turning point like no other in modern history. Our land of Liberty is sorely lacking a national voice, one we haven't heard since Ronald Reagan rose from the ashes of the Carter years. That notwithstanding, the presidential election this November is much more than a quadrennial vote — it is a quarter-century vote for the composition of the Supreme Court. And that reality alone warrants at least the temporary transition of every conservative voter from "Never Trump to Never Clinton."
Regardless of the outcome of next month's election, Liberty is eternal. Which is why your Patriot team joins you, standing on that wall every day, day in and day out, advancing our mission in defense of Liberty.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.