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Policy: Entitlements

It's the end of America as we know it and conservatives feel fine

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Opinion,Conn Carroll,Columnists,Entitlements,Conservatism

After President Obama captured the White House in 2008, the top-selling conservative books about him basically fell into two categories: 1) unflattering explanations of how America was tricked into voting for this man (like David Horowitz's "Barack Obama's Rules for Revolution: The Alinsky Model"); and 2) all-out broadsides against his tenure in office (like Edward Klein's "The Amateur").

These books may have been a therapeutic read for many conservatives, allowing them to wallow in their denial and anger, but neither genre really helped the movement prepare to defeat Obama's re-election bid in 2012.

Now that Obama has won a second term, some conservatives seem ready to admit that the country really has changed. In "Obama's Four Horseman," Human Events editor David Harsanyi writes, "Let's not fool ourselves. There's been a fundamental shift, especially among young people, in how Americans view government's role in society... A Pew Research study conducted after the election found that nearly six in 10 of the voters under 30 supported a more expansive role for government in solving problems."

Harsanyi then spends most of the book detailing how Obama's agenda (debt, dependence, weakness and devaluing human life) will forever end "this particular iteration" of the United States.

"If you happen to believe, as I do, that government should be strong, but limited... -- guess what? We're screwed. And how." It's safe to say Harsanyi is a bit depressed.

But 2008 Libertarian vice presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root isn't. His book, "The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide," is every bit as critical of Obama's agenda as Harsanyi.

"Our assets are melting away. Our incomes are in decline. Our job prospects are disappearing. Our bills are rising. Our options are shrinking. Our rights are being violated. The middle class is being squeezed out of existence... We are living a never-ending nightmare."

But unlike Harsanyi, Root sees opportunity amidst the destruction. "Did you know that more self-made millionaires were created during the Great Depression than any other epoch in our history," Root writes.

"For most Americans it was a terrible time. But for the smart and savvy few, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's all about to happen again."

The rest of Root's book is a list of ways you can profit from "the Obama disaster," including investing in oil and gas, shorting profligate state bonds like Illinois and California, and moving to low-tax states like Texas.

"'The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide' is about "empowering and motivating you to higher levels of success than you've ever imagined possible."

National Review's Kevin Williamson takes Root's optimism, and raises it. Like Harsanyi and Root, Williamson's book, "The End is Near and It's Going to Be Awesome," also details how and why America's relationship with government is about to change forever. But for Williamson, this is an opportunity for everyone, not just a smart select few.

Williamson's main insight is that, just as the human body is a product of biological evolution, the institutions that make up human society are a product of evolution as well. The problem is, however, that government is simply incapable of evolving as fast as the rest of human society.

"Politics," Williamson writes, "almost alone among our contemporary institutions, lacks a strong and reliable feedback mechanism to help it learn."

"The model of organizing community life that has prevailed since the late eighteenth century is in the process of disintegrating. That fact is good news," Williamson continues.

"The historic challenge of our time is to anticipate as best we can the coming changes and to begin developing alternative institutions and social practices to ensure the continuation of a society that is humane, secure, free, and prosperous."

Williamson has no master plan as to how we can meet this challenge, but he does look at a number of issue areas (like Social Security, health care and education) and sketches out some possible non-governmental solutions.

It would be wrong to say that all conservatives are happy Obama won a second term, but it appears that some have accepted that Obama has changed the country, and they are eager to make the best of it.

Conn Carroll (ccarroll@washingtonexaminer.com) is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner. Follow him on Twitter at @conncarroll.

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