There was a tense moment in that interview between Joe the Plumber and the anchorwoman that people haven't really talked about, at least not that I've heard. It marks the difference between those who believe in natural spheres of authority and therefore in natural limits to any particular office's authority, and those who do not, and for good reason -- since if there are no natural authorities, whoever possesses power may do with it whatever he pleases, so long as he can keep the proles content. When the reporter asked him about Obama's intention to take money from the supposed rich, Joe, who is not rich, did not at first ask "How much" or "Who's giving" but "By what authority?"
That one word opens up the little red playbook of the totalitarian left. For the left can be defined as that political movement that seeks to destroy all subsidiary authorities, in the cause of some grand superauthority, like the dicatorship of the proletariat. It is why the left despises families. Oh, I don't mean that leftists do not love their children. Maybe they do; that's not the point. The point is that the left seeks to rob the family of its status as a natural, pre-political institution, with a natural authority of its own, an authority that the state must respect and sometimes even subserve. It is why the left derides the father. Oh, I don't mean that leftists slap their fathers into old folks' homes at the first opportunity. I mean that they hate the fatherhood of the father; he stands in their society-remaking path. They're not too fond of motherhood either, and for the same reasons. And the church. And the municipality. And traditions peculiar to a people. They'll allow us to worship God, silly fools that we are, so long as we keep it private -- which means, so long as nobody gets the idea that states and statesman and Really Smart People who want to run everything also stand under the judgment of God, and will have to answer for their deeds.
And the totalitarian tendencies of the left are in full sight in this campaign. Whatever you think of talk radio (and I think a range of things about it, depending on the talker), it sure beats the goosestepping print media and the hairsprayed and trussed-up kicklines, ever to the left, on the old television networks. But the left is not simply suggesting that talk radio be gagged. They're promising it. The threatened return of the Fairness Doctrine is the sort of thing I have seen quite a lot of in academe. One time, for example, renegade feminist Camille Paglia was invited to give a talk at Brown, a small community college across town from where I teach. She did, to a packed house. The next day, professors were snooping for a victim -- "Who was responsible for bringing that woman here!" And now, "Fox News has made me lose three points of my lead!" And "Rush Limbaugh is a terrorist!" Then we have the ACORN voter frauds. Then we have the Freedom of Choice Act, which Obama promises to sign, and which will remove from Christian doctors and nurses any protection for conscience; rather like Massachusetts' recent slamming of Boston's Catholic adoption agency. "Do it our way, or else" -- that is the totalitarian slogan, and that is simply the default position for the hard left. They make ol' Joe McCarthy look like a piker. The worst that you could say about McCarthy is that that ambitious and self-serving man tried to cast out demons with the weapons of Beelzebub. The left isn't trying to do that. They want to cast out all authorities in the name of Beelzebub. The Constitution? Just a document to be used to destroy rival authorities to the statist powers -- including, yes, the family (and that is how the "liberty" of abortion ought to be viewed). Beyond that? Nothing at all. Maybe a nice design with which to emboss the bathroom tissue in the halls of power.