John Stossel: Freedom was the big loser in last week's election
At least some people with records of supporting liberty were elected: Sen. Jeff Flake in Arizona and U.S. Reps. Justin Amash and Kerry Bentivolio in Michigan and Thomas Massie in Kentucky.
Also, Washington and Colorado voted to allow any adult to use marijuana. (But users beware. Your newfound freedom may be short-lived thanks to that extraordinary human being in the White House - you know, the one who smoked pot when he was in school. Despite promising that he wouldn't, he has cracked down on pot dispensaries far more often than President Bush did.)
And voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington said yes to gay marriage; Minnesota defeated a proposed constitutional amendment that would have outlawed it.
That's the good news. But overall, the results were bad for freedom. As P.J. O'Rourke says, we need to "fix" government. By that, we mean "fixing" government the way we neuter a cat or spay a dog.
When it comes to foreign policy, we must teach our politicians to stop making messes in other people's yards. At home, they should stay out of our bedrooms.
Term limits would be good. When we give politicians power, they should know they don't get to keep it forever. They have to bring that power right back to us and drop it at our feet. "Good boy. Now go back outside!"
Sadly, President Obama's swooning fans don't want to tame politicians. They don't even seem to think much about freedom. We attended Obama's victory party in Chicago (we go so you don't have to) and asked his supporters what Obama's reelection means for freedom. People reacted as if they didn't understand the question.
"Freedom?" one asked.
"Um, yes, I have no idea," said another.
It's not on their radar, and that's upsetting. Some wouldn't know freedom if they fell over it. To many, "freedom" means getting the government to force women's employers to pay for birth control.
Sorry, that's not freedom. That's force.
Obama's supporters seem to think it's enough to put this extraordinary man in office. After that, he will take care of everything. Spare us the details.
"Obama is a classic example of this cult of the presidency," said David Boaz of the Cato Institute. "But the idea that any politician can just fix the problems in society - that there's some magic there - that doesn't start with Obama. It goes a long way back."
Leader-worship is unbecoming a free people. But are we a free people today? I mean psychologically. Years of government impositions change people. At Obama's celebration, people didn't mention freedom, but they sure mentioned handouts, like taxpayer-financed higher education. It's as if their attitude is: What can government give me? They don't realize that "free stuff" only seems free because the real cost is hidden.
"When you have a $3.6 trillion federal government, that money will absolutely benefit some businesses. That's crony capitalism. It takes money from all of us and gives it to some," said Boaz. "Maybe a clean-energy or green-jobs company that has not already gone bankrupt might get that money. Similarly, if you're a defense contractor, you'd be in favor of Mitt Romney getting elected, because that would be good for your business. But it's all bad for the American economy to tax some people and then dole the money back out."
My hope for now: gridlock. People say they like bipartisanship, but bipartisanship usually means politicians conspire to take more of our money and freedom. Bipartisanship gave us the Department of Homeland Security, TSA, PATRIOT Act, Import-Export Bank, war on drug users, ethanol subsides, TARP, No Child Left Behind, foreign wars and an ever-rising debt. When Democrats and Republicans come together, they put us deeper in debt.
Let's have some gridlock!
The outcome of this election is a sea of government with a few islands of freedom. Gay people are freer in a few states, and marijuana consumers in a couple more. But sadly, most of us will be victims of the ever-growing government spider web of higher taxes and freedom-killing rules.
John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "Give Me a Break" and of "Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity."