By Rob Roper
My kids are at the age where they are reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for the first time, and it is a joy to re-experience those magnificent stories through young eyes. But, as I’ve grown older myself, I can’t help but see the Ring of Power and the battle over its mastery as the perfect metaphor for Big Government.
As the wise wizard Gandalf warns, “We cannot use the Ruling Ring…. It is altogether evil…. The very desire of it corrupts the heart…. If any of the Wise should with this Ring overthrow the Lord of Mordor, using his own arts, he would then set himself on Sauron’s throne, and yet another Dark Lord would appear. And that is another reason why the Ring should be destroyed: as long as it is in the world it will be a danger even to the Wise.”
And, this is why, as a handful of Republican candidates gathered in South Carolina this week for the first debate of the 2012 campaign, I am looking for a leader not with the wisdom to wield great power, but rather the strength of character to let it go. Someone willing and able to toss modern day federal government back into the proverbial Crack of Doom from whence it was forged, and return to the small, limited entity our Constitution envisioned.
The power of Big Government, when possessed by truly evil masters, like the Dark Lord Sauron — or, say Stalin, Hitler or Mao – can be truly devastating. Millions murdered or enslaved. Freedom totally eradicated and replaced by terror and brute force.
But even when those who come into possession of power of Big Government with the intention of doing good, we can see how they, or at the very least their policies, are transformed in their outcomes. One can’t help but be reminded of Republican former Majority Leader, Tom Delay, who won his majority on a small government message, when he said, “There’s no more fat in the budget to cut, my Precious. No, there is none. We wants it all.” (Well, that was sort of his quote.)
And then, of course, there is LBJ’s War on Poverty, launched with all good intentions, resulting in the near total destruction of the African American family and the disintegration of our inner cities. Detroit was the poster child for that program. Look at it now.
Is our national energy situation really better off now than it was in 1977, before the Department of Energy was created? The same question can be asked of our educational outcomes after the creation of the Department of Education in 1979. Federal agriculture and welfare policies have served to create a situation where a generation of American youth is living with the debilitating effects of both obesity and malnutrition at the same time.
Indeed, the frightening inscription on Tolkien’s ring, “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them,” could be the Middle Earth version of, “Hello, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” …From Washington where the Shadows lie.
So, as we watch Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlente, Newt Gingrich, John Huntsman, Herman Cain and all the rest begin to jockey for the nomination to unseat Obama, I’m hoping that a Frodo Baggins will step forward and offer to take the ring, and destroy it.
Who might it be? I have some hopes, but ut we’ll have to wait see. And, if we are successful, can we make real reform last? Well, as Gandalf warns, “Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.” Or, as Jefferson said, “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”