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The Reactionary Utopian (classic)
June 8, 2012

Victory in 2004!
A classic by Joseph Sobran
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Time to get moving if I want to be elected president of the United States in 2004. I’m not going on the road to campaign; I’m not spending money, much less seeking unconstitutional matching funds from the Federal Government; you won’t be getting mailings or seeing TV ads for me. I’m simply relying on word-of-mouth (and word-of-Internet) to spread my message. Those who agree with it can write my name in.

My message is simple: no wars, no spending programs, no taxes. My legislative program is equally simple: the repeal of most Federal laws on the books. As for foreign policy, I have another simple approach: stop intervening around the world and making enemies we don’t need. This will also eliminate the need for ruinous defense spending. In short, the Federal Government will return to the U.S. Constitution.

When I was growing up in Michigan in the 1950s, the state got by with a 3 per cent sales tax (later raised to 4 per cent). There was no state income tax.

I never heard anyone complain that we didn’t have enough government. But neither did I hear complaints that government was always getting in the way. Nor were we forced to worry much about crime and other social problems bred by the welfare state.

Why can’t America be like that again? We didn’t have perfection, but we had a reasonable degree of freedom and general contentment. We can reclaim these things if we really want to. We only have to do one thing: insist that the government honor the Constitution. It’s really that simple.

“You can’t turn back the clock,” we are told. “We mustn’t pine for the good old days.” This is counsel of despair. It means that once you’ve lost your freedom you can’t get it back.

My view is that the good old days lie ahead. We can have even more freedom than our ancestors had. After all, we can have everything they had without slavery.

In truth, our ancestors didn’t know how good they had it. They rebelled against British rule for far less oppressive government than we take for granted. Despite all their complaints about taxes, the average American paid only a few pennies — yes, pennies — per year to the British crown in taxes. America was one of the most prosperous countries on earth even before it won independence.

And again, nobody complained that there wasn’t enough government. The grievance was too much government. And today? As one British wag recently asked, “Well, gentlemen, how do you like taxation with representation?” Under the forms of self-government, Americans have lost nearly everything their ancestors won.

Chattel slavery has been abolished, but it has been replaced by tax-slavery to the government. There are no constitutional limits on how much of our income the government may take, and the limits on what the money can be spent for have been ignored. As a result, tens of millions of people live on the earnings of others. Programs like Social Security and Medicare ensure that it will be politically difficult to restore limits.

One solution is to transfer such Federal programs to the states. Under the Constitution, that’s where they belong. Let the states decide whether to have entitlement programs and to tax accordingly; then citizens could also decide which states they preferred to live in. Those who wanted socialism could live in, say, New York; those who didn’t could live in, say, New Hampshire. This would restore real federalism and create a sort of free market in states, which would, so to speak, have to compete for customers.

My guess is that low-taxing free states would attract people, while high-taxing socialist states would drive them out. But as president, I’d have nothing to say about this. I’d merely try to keep Federal spending and taxes as low as possible, while respecting the sovereignty of the states, even the socialist ones.

As I always say, the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government. But it could. It could be a deadly threat indeed to the tyranny that now passes for self-government. If We the People show a little of the pluck of our ancestors, we can recover not only the Constitution but our liberty.

That’s why I’m offering my modest services as president of the United States.

The Reactionary Utopian archives

Copyright © 2012 by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. This column was published originally by Griffin Internet Syndicate on September 9, 2003.

Joe Sobran was an author and a syndicated columnist. See bio and archives of some of his columns.

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