Obama showed his true colors quite unmistakably in his 'You didn't build that" speech. Yuval Steinitz has his number:
The president simply equates doing things together with doing things through government. He sees the citizen and the state, and nothing in between — and thus sees every political question as a choice between radical individualism and a federal program.
As I said before, it is a classic false alternative fallacy: either you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps or government helps you. This goes together with a straw man fallacy: Obama imputes to his opponents an absurd 'rugged individualism' that they do not espouse.
But most of life is lived somewhere between those two extremes, and American life in particular has given rise to unprecedented human flourishing because we have allowed the institutions that occupy the middle ground — the family, civil society, and the private economy — to thrive in relative freedom. Obama’s remarks in Virginia shed a bright light on his attitude toward that middle ground, and in that light a great deal of what his administration has done in this three and a half years suddenly grows clearer and more coherent, and even more disconcerting.
Disconcerting is right. It's an all-out, totalitarian assault on the institutions of civil society. The Left is totalitarian by its very nature and it can brook no competitors: not religion, not the family, not private charities and associations.
This intolerance of nonconformity is even more powerfully evident in the administration’s attitude toward the institutions of civil society, especially religious institutions involved in the crucial work of helping the needy and vulnerable. In a number of instances, but most notably in the controversy surrounding the Department of Health and Human Services rule requiring religious employers to provide free abortive and contraceptive drugs to their employees under Obamacare, the administration has shown an appalling contempt for the basic right of religious institutions to pursue their ends in accordance with their convictions.
It is important to recall just what the administration did in that instance. The HHS rule did not assert that people should have the freedom to use contraceptive or abortive drugs — which of course they do have in our country. It did not even say that the government facilitate people’s access to these drugs — which it does today and has done for decades. Rather, the rule required that the Catholic Church and other religious entities should facilitate people’s access to contraceptive and abortive drugs. It aimed to turn the institutions of civil society into active agents of the government’s ends, even in violation of their fundamental religious convictions.
The idea is to hollow out the space between the individual and the State, to clear it of the institutions of civil society that mediate between individual and state:
Indeed, the president and his administration don’t seem to have much use for that space at all. Even the family, which naturally stands between the individual and the community, is not essential. In May, the Obama campaign produced a Web slideshow called “The Life of Julia,” which follows a woman through the different stages of life and shows the many ways in which she benefits from public policies that the president advocates. It was an extraordinarily revealing work of propaganda, and what it revealed was just what the president showed us in Roanoke: a vision of society consisting entirely of the individual and the state. Julia’s life is the product of her individual choices enabled by public policies. She has an exceptional amount of direct contact with the federal government, yet we never meet her family. At the age of 31, we are told, “Julia decides to have a child” and “benefits from maternal checkups, prenatal care, and free screenings under health care reform.” She later benefits from all manner of educational, economic, and social programs, and seems to require and depend upon no one but the president.
[. . .]
The Left’s disdain for civil society is thus driven above all not by a desire to empower the state without limit, but by a deeply held concern that the mediating institutions in society — emphatically including the family, the church, and private enterprise — are instruments of prejudice, selfishness, backwardness, and resistance to change, and that in order to establish our national life on more rational grounds, the government needs to weaken and counteract them.
The Right’s high regard for civil society, meanwhile, is driven above all not by a disdain for government but by a deeply held belief in the importance of our diverse and evolved societal forms, without which we could not hope to secure our liberty. Conservatives seek mechanisms and institutions to bring implicit social knowledge to bear on our troubles, while progressives seek the authority and power to bring explicit technical knowledge to bear on them.
[. . .]
To ignore what stands between the state and the citizen is to disregard the essence of American life. To clear away what stands between the state and the citizen is to extinguish the sources of American freedom. The president is right to insist that America works best when Americans work together, but government is just one of the many things we do together, and it is only rarely the most important of them.
One of the problems with Romney is that he has no clue as to what the battle is really about. He thinks solely in economic terms. Paul Ryan or somebody should force the affable milque-toast to study Steinitz's piece and then give him a test on it.
ButI'll give Mitt this: his pick of Ryan as running mate was courageous and intelligent.