Good Government

Tina Korbe Dzurisin | May 7, 2014

Krauthammer Tells OCPA Audience American Hyper-Liberalism Cannot Go On and, Therefore, Will Not Go On

Tina Korbe Dzurisin

The people of the United States remain engaged in a timely and important debate about the size and scope of government—and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer is optimistic that advocates for liberty and limited government will prevail.

Speaking April 2 at the OCPA Citizenship Dinner, Krauthammer said Americans have historically favored freedom over the false promises of an overextended welfare state—and he’s confident they will again.

Among Krauthammer’s many reasons for this sanguinity: Barack Obama has tipped the hand of those who favor government-imposed equality.

“Obama represents a different kind of challenge to the American idea,” Krauthammer said. “He’s not a conventional liberal. He’s what you would call in Europe a social democrat—and it’s important to understand what that represents.”

His explanation: In social democratic countries like France, Germany, Italy, and Greece, the ideal is, unabashedly, equality. In the United States, equally unabashedly, the mantra has been: Liberty above all.

“In Europe, the idea is a government that gives you more protection, more regulation, more taxation, more security, more leveling, more solidarity,” Krauthammer said. “In the United States, we believe differently. We believe in more liberty, more dynamism, more social mobility, more enterprise, more innovation, more risk-taking, more freedom. There’s a reason why, in New York Harbor, we have a Statue of Liberty and not a Statue of Equality.”

This historical precedent against him, Obama nevertheless declared in his first State of the Union address that he intended to fundamentally transform America in the three key sectors of health care, education, and energy.

“What’s remarkable is, he went for it,” Krauthammer said. “It wasn’t a theoretical thing.”

He went for it, of course, by harnessing Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to pass the sweeping Affordable Care Act into law without the vote of a single Republican. That, Krauthammer said, was Act I.

Then came Act II—and no one, least of all Obama, expected it.

Act II was dubbed “the Tea Party,” but it stood for something much wider, “which was a resistance to this social democratic idea, this imposition of the rule by experts, this intrusion into the lives of Americans on a scale very rarely seen,” Krauthammer said. “All of a sudden, people started showing up and saying, ‘This is not what we want; this is not who we want; this is not the American experiment.’”

In Krauthammer’s telling of history, the 2010 midterm elections were and remain decisive, halting the Obama legislative agenda at the federal level and instigating “mini-rebellions” at the state level, even in such unlikely states as Wisconsin and Michigan.

“Now we have a full-fledged engagement of left and right and, again, this is the great national debate, everywhere, at all levels,” he said.

Sure, the American people reelected Obama in 2012—Krauthammer admits he “underestimated the GOP’s extraordinary capacity to lose unlosable elections”—but, in 2016, Krauthammer predicts they’ll respond to a candidate who can make the case for a carefully circumscribed government and, from Krauthammer’s perspective, that candidate exists among “a whole generation of young, dynamic leaders” including governors like Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Susana Martinez.

Perhaps even more importantly, Americans can look to Europe to preview the results of the social democratic experiment—and to find all the evidence they need to decide against it.

“Look at what happened in Greece, in Portugal, in Spain, in Italy,” Krauthammer said. “History has spoken. This kind of hyper-liberalism—over-taxation, over-regulation, over-involvement, over-intrusiveness into American life—cannot go on and therefore it will not go on. So, it either means we go over the cliff if we don’t change course or we change course—and I think we will.”

Krauthammer Quips Kept Audience Entertained

On Obama’s stimulus bill
“It left not a trace behind. For God’s sake, at least FDR left the Hoover Dam. Obama leaves behind the ruins of that Solyndra factory; that’s it. That’s where the Obama Library ought to be.”

On the GOP’s nomination of Mitt Romney in 2012
“So, who does the GOP nominate? They nominate the one man in a country of 330 million, the only man, who cannot make the case against Obamacare because he invented it. Now that takes genius on the part of the party.”

On Jeb Bush as a potential 2016 presidential nominee
Now, we know, he’s got one liability—his last name. I have a solution. Change it. How about: Jeb Ochocinco? By doing that he’s going to get two constituencies at once: Hispanics and wide receivers.

On Chris Christie’s Bridgegate
Now, here I have to confess that I am deeply disappointed. This really does not speak well of the state of revenge in New Jersey. In the old days when men were men and you wanted to send a message of revenge to the mayor of Fort Lee, you put a horse’s head in his bed. You sent him a dead fish in the mail. He’d hear a knock on the door; he’d go answer it and there would be Tonya Harding. Three lanes of the George Washington bridge? In New Jersey, that’s the best you can do? Talk about American decline.

On Paul Ryan
“I think he has a future in the House that he will want to live out; he will be a great chairman and I think he will be a great member of the Congress and, of course, he’s so young, he could do that for 10 or 20 years and still run for the presidency and only be about 19 years old.”

Tina Korbe Dzurisin is a research associate at OCPA. Formerly, she was a staff writer at The Heritage Foundation and an associate editor at

Tina Korbe Dzurisin

Research Associate

Formerly a staff writer at The Heritage Foundation, Tina Korbe Dzurisin is a research associate at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

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