What, exactly, are we supposed to “take back”?


My college days featured a heavily promoted movement called “Take Back the Night,” in which female students marched to protest a perceived wave of violent crime against women. It didn’t matter whether there had ever been a time when the women actually owned the night; “Take Back the Night” was a catchy catchphrase. The image of taking back something that was rightfully yours is always appealing.

Chris Christie knows that. “Ladies and gentlemen,” the New Jersey governor told a Romney rally crowd yesterday, “we all have to spend the next 28 days takin’ our country back.”

As a man who “took back” the New Jersey governorship from a Democrat, Christie ought to know that as soon as we “take back” a polity, we have to run it. Oops – we’ve become the hated bureaucrats, and are we really going to give back any of that excessive power grabbed by our predecessor?

“The problem with this president is that he sees all of us [as] actors and pawns in his great plan to manipulate everything from Washington, D.C.,” said Christie of our centrist president. “He thinks government and bureaucrats in cubicles…should decide who wins and who loses in Ohio. Let me tell you one thing, Mitt Romney thinks you should decide who wins and loses in America.”

So Christie thinks Americans should “decide who wins and loses,” but what does that mean? Which Americans decide it for which other Americans? Does he want a tyranny of the majority? Or do we all decide for ourselves? If so, are some of us really going to “decide” to lose? Is anything he’s saying making any sense?

Talk of “taking back America” may be fiery rhetoric, but it’s as devoid of substance as fire itself. No one has usurped America. We (America) have the government we’ve elected. If anything needs reclaiming, it’s the rights corroded under the semi-police state established during the Bush administration’s War on Terror. The continuation of those policies is something for which we can legitimately criticize President Obama.

But bureaucrats in cubicles, deciding “who wins and who loses”? That’s just fantasy.