On a beautiful August day in 1949, former President Herbert Hoover celebrated his 75th birthday with an address at Stanford University. Hoover was in the 1891 inaugural class of Stanford and claimed to be its very first student by virtue of the fact that he was the first student to sleep in a Stanford dormitory. Throughout his life he remained active with Stanford. The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, a public policy think-tank dedicated to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and private enterprise is housed at Stanford.
Hoover’s 1949 birthday address at Stanford echoed many of the same concerns that sparked the Tea Party movement 60 years later. Hoover told his audience that
“…They are a nuisance and require attention. We also have the doctrinaire socialists who peacefully dream of their Utopia. But there is a considerable group of fuzzy-minded people who are engineering a compromise between free men and these European infections. They fail to realize that our American system has grown away from the systems of Europe for 250 years. They have the foolish notion that a collectivist economy can at the same time preserve personal liberty and constitutional government. That cannot be done.”
In the generations since Hoover spoke these words, we continue to be led by “fuzzy-minded people” who have conned the populace with collectivist programs that have failed many times over. Each time, they ask for one more chance to get it right.
“In the end these solutions of national problems by spending are always the same – power, more power, more centralization in the hands of the state.
Along this road of spending, the Government either takes over economic life, which is socialism, or dictates institutional and economic life, which is fascism. We have not had a great socialization of property, but we are on the last miles to collectivism through governmental spending of the savings of the people. Think about it.”
Government over-spending and regulation started to escalate 100 years ago under Woodrow Wilson. Hoover recognized the danger of this growth when it was in its infancy. Since then, many have warned us of the danger and damage of this bloating. The roots of American-style collectivism run deep and wide, but they cannot compete against what Hoover called “a splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom”.
“In this day of confusion, of world peril to free men, our high duty is to see that this storehouse is not robbed of its contents. We dare not see the birthright of posterity to individual independence, initiative and freedom of choice bartered for a mess of collectivism.”
Hoover encouraged his audience of 1949 to act. “… thinking and debate on these questions must not be limited to legislative halls. We should debate them in every school. We should resort to the old cracker barrel debate in every corner grocery. In those places these phrases and slogans can be liquidated by common sense and intellectual integrity.”
100 years from now, this battle against collectivism will continue. Patriots will look to our founders, to those who spoke out in the 20thcentury against this scourge, to the Tea Party Movement, to the many other individuals and groups who resisted the growth of government. Keep up the debate so that these collectivist ideas can be “liquidated by common sense and intellectual integrity”. In the end, there will never be time when we can say that we have “won”, but we can contain menaces that threaten our freedom. It is up to all of us to protect the storehouse that is the birthright of our children and grandchildren.