[First published June 18, 2005]
One of the mottos I have all my students memorize and understand is “RTM — Regime Type Matters.” I use your Power Kills to make sure they understand this both empirically and theoretically, as well as making sure they see the practical implications “since Power kills, if you want non-violence, promote democracy”).
I also use the famous satellite photo of the Korean peninsula at night: the North is almost completely dark, while the South is lit up like Times Square.
I ask why? Since the people are the same, the resources pretty much the same, the weather almost the same, the culture the same, what is the explanatory variable? Obviously politics! This makes “RTM” vividy clear to them.
Yesterday (Friday) Rush was asked what made America so different, and his answer is a classic statement of the importance or regime type — freedom is the answer. Transcript below….
Who’s next? Anchorage, Alaska, this is Adam. Hello, sir.
Hey, Rush, mega dittos here from the great state of Alaska. You actually helped make my college experience bearable. My question is, democracy and freedom work so well here in America because we fought for it, we died for it, our blood was shed. How can we be assured that the Iraqis will have that same appreciation?
We can’t be sure. There is a lot of faith here and I will tell you why I am willing to try it. I ask this question of people constantly. You thanked me for getting you through the college experience, so you’re relatively young. I don’t know how much you’ve traveled internationally, but if you haven’t, you someday will, and when you travel the world, you will see a stark difference in almost every aspect of the human condition, when compared to this country. Even if you go to civilized parts of the world, western Europe, Japan, you will see a marked difference in the quality of life. And for the moment here I’m not talking about political circumstances. I’m just talking about economic. You will see civilizations that have been around far longer than we have who are not nearly as advanced. You will see civilizations and cultures that are on the road to where we are, but they’re not really near it, and they have been at it for thousands of years longer than we have. And you’ll ask yourself, “Why? Why is this?” The first thing you’ll do is say, “What is it about the United States geographically, what is it about the United States that enables us to be the leader of the world?” And you’ll start looking at things like, “Well, is it because of our agriculture? Is it because of our natural resources? Is it because of the cooperation so many people on one continent have because we are part of the United States, so Arkansans freely trade with Missourians, who freely trade with Californians, we’re all Americans, is it that?”
And then you’ll say, “Well, wait. It can’t all be that because we don’t have nearly enough oil to supply our own needs, we have to get that elsewhere from around the world.” Then you’ll say, “It can’t be that because when I go to the store I see all kinds of products made in China and Japan and Mexico. So what is it,” you’ll ask yourself, “what is it about us?” And then you’ll ask yourself, “Are we different human beings? Is there something about us as human beings that makes us different than, say, human beings in Africa or Asia or Europe?”
And then you’ll have to conclude, no, because a human being is a human being, regardless what a human being looks like, regardless what a human being’s skin color is or where a human being is born, we’re all human beings. We’re no better than any other group of human beings, collectively or individually anywhere else on the planet. So why are we so far advanced in every which way, politically as well? Let’s bring the political system in – and you will conclude, Adam, as I have, after many experiences and asking yourself these questions, that there’s one thing that sets us apart from all these other people, and that is freedom. We as human beings here are allowed, because of the freedom we have compared to other human beings on the planet, to maximize our potential as human beings, our creativity, our industriousness, our talents.
Now, we have shackles on ourselves here, we’ve got restrictions and regulations, but it’s nothing compared to people that live in totalitarian regimes run by dictators and thugs and so forth. It is therefore the conclusion, the theory is that guides our policy, President Bush’s policy, I’m sure, is that a human being has a natural yearning as a result of creation to be free and to be the best he can be. But society, culture after culture, generation after generation, when you tamp that down, step on it, you suppress it for generation after generation after generation. Now in Iraq, it’s being put to the test. And I think it’s succeeding. I think the Iraqis themselves are getting along much faster than we did in getting a Constitution. I wouldn’t say this is a lost cause, just the exact opposite. I think what’s going on over there is a sight to behold and it’s a model for the rest of that region.