American politics has an educational value all its own if there is anything positive to be said about it at all. Elections encourage people to focus their minds and therefore, become more knowledgeable of what the politicians are actually doing in Washington. Perhaps, this time, Americans have learned that they cannot just wait till every election year rolls around to become involved in how we are being governed. Lew Rockwell, who is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, editor of LewRockwell.com, and the author of Speaking of Liberty, writes that:
It’s another revolutionary season in American politics, with voters preparing to do everything they can within the structure of the law to throw out the bad guys and the bad system they represent. The focus is on this amorphous thing called the Tea Party, which embodies a huge range of political impulses from libertarian to authoritarian, united under the common belief that everything is going wrong in Washington, with a common goal of upending the status quo. . . .
The health-care bill is also a source of American public anger. People are not deceived into believing that whatever reforms we are getting are going to fix the problems of the current system; they will make them worse. As it is, the freedom remaining in the system is the only reason that the system serves us at all. Take that away, and you take away a lifeline.
The revolt, then, is in high gear. It’s not the first time, and it won’t be the last. The governed have long been very unhappy about the government, and they periodically wake up and seek to change it. It’s been some 16 years since the last go-round of such revolutionary sentiment. It is arguably stronger today than it was back in 1994.
The good aspects of this have nothing to do with political outcomes, despite what people believe. The political environment focuses the mind on important issues like freedom, economics, culture, power and its uses, and the role of the state. As they debate with their neighbors, follow election coverage, listen to the candidates, and watch the process, people learn and study and, most importantly, think and rethink.
If you begin with a skeptical attitude toward the government, watching and thinking can lead to a radicalization and ultimate embrace of a consistent opposition to government involvement. This is why election season always ends up creating a huge flood of new libertarians who buy books, feel the inspiration to get active (perhaps for the first time), and dedicate themselves to reducing the power of the state in whatever way they can.
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