Last year, I wrote about the historic steamboat Delta Queen, whose withdrawal from passenger service was forced, on what appear to me to be very spurious grounds, by the federal government. One of the main perpetrators of this act was Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), head of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
So I was especially pleased to see that Oberstar faces some serious competition in his race for re-election. This 18-term incumbent trails Republican candidate Chip Cravaack by only three points (42-45 percent). Quite an achievement on the part of the Cravaack campaign, given that Oberstar has something like a 10-to-1 money advantage.
There are plenty of reasons to support Cravaak over Oberstar in addition to the Delta Queen matter—indeed, some might say that the continued passenger operation of one steamboat is trivial in the context of the massive issues we face as a country. But the symbolism is important. In literally thousands of ways, the “progressive” Democrats have sought to restrict American freedoms, as the Lilliputians tied down Gulliver with threads. Your ability to choose your own light bulbs and shower heads, to have swing sets in your child’s schoolyard, to buy or sell pizza by the slice, to sell home-baked pies at a church sale, to have a transparent or translucent sunroof for your car, to decide for yourself whether or not to buy a Barbie doll for your daughter…all of these rights have already been constrained or are currently under attack. Not to mention the ever-tightening constraints on your ability to start your own business and make it succeed. Consciously or not, “progressives” seek to convert Americans from citizens into subjects, and the Delta Queen matter was simply one very visible symbol thereof.
Alexis de Toqueville:
Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated…It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd…That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.
The Toqueville quote is from Michael Ledeen, who notes that “The metaphor of a parent maintaining perpetual control over his child is the language of contemporary American politics.”
Chip Cravaack looks like a strong candidate and a good man: Naval Academy graduate, navy pilot and then airline pilot; not a member of the permanent political class that has done so much harm to this country. His campaign web site is here.