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In a column several weeks ago (“The 2- party system: Like a rigged casino”), I lamented that “most people fail to notice that the definition of politics accepted by both parties gives each a stake in preserving the power position of the government; and a tacit interest in assuring the periodic success of their opponents. Government power fuels and lubricates the machinery of political control in both parties.” Since then John Boehner and the GOP congressional leadership have stepped through a patently obvious charade as they deal with the budget process. This has sharply disappointed anyone still naïve enough to believe that the GOP leaders would make an authentic effort to end the spiral of spending and indebtedness that presently hurries what’s left of the American republic toward its doom.
For what it’s worth, anyone who read and took seriously the analysis I developed in that previous column at least avoided the little unpleasantness of such disappointment. They doubtless expected the controlling forces of the sham two-party system to enforce this scenario. As we look to the weeks and months ahead, we can expect more of the same. Against pressures from many of their constituents to cut spending and put a cap on any new government indebtedness, the politicians brought up in the government-dependent culture of the New Deal paradigm will exploit the fears of those who already are, or see themselves as, government dependents. They will encourage these dependents to ask themselves, who will take care of us? To be sure, there will be some politicians who sincerely seek to relieve pressure for new spending and debt by seeking fundamental change in programs like Social Security, Medicare or so-called welfare transfer payments. But their opponents will mobilize constituencies of need, made up of people unable to conceive of any alternative to the government-generated income on which they have come to depend.
Structured by this manipulation, the unifying perception of common danger from imminent national bankruptcy will be morphed into a “let’s you and him fight” display of political theatre. One side (the Republican wing of the elitist faction) will placate the constituents of budget discipline by targeting this or that unpopular program for cutback or elimination. The other side will loudly weep crocodile tears to embolden the self-pity of their constituents, or sharpen the edge of their resentment. They will inveigh angrily against the greedy or bigoted motives behind the cuts. This pantomime will serve to distract attention from the fact that no real effort will be made to address the imminent threat. Nothing will be done to dissipate the tidal wave of fiscal and economic consequences that must soon erase the plywood façade of normalcy that keeps too many Americans from recognizing the life-disrupting enormity of the economic disaster that looms ahead of us.
But the two-party pantomime also aims to stoke the fire beneath the political pressure cooker. The battle over such ineffectual “cutbacks” in government spending as may actually occur is being purposefully exaggerated to build the force of a political reaction against politicians with enough integrity to stand with the grass-roots forces seeking to re-establish limited, constitutional government. Tragically, treacherously, the force of grass-roots concern about out-of-control government will thus perversely be harnessed to the task of drawing the bowstring of political reaction against that very concern, but without diminishing by one iota the momentum toward public bankruptcy and totalitarian government domination. Nothing better illustrates this elite-orchestrated result than what appears to be the increasing likelihood of a bipartisan agreement to fund the government takeover of the health sector, so-called Obamacare. The Republican elephant labors to produce a mouse that will promptly eat the cheese despite the public’s emphatic rejection of the whole rancid affair.
“Put not your trust in princes,” the Psalmist admonishes. Given present evidence, and their past record of betrayal, it should be clear that these days anyone sincerely interested in restoring and preserving the American republic would adapt that advice to read “Put not your trust in the corrupt New Deal party system; put not your trust in the politicians raised up by it; nor in the conservatives (even the seemingly sincere ones) willing to speak their lines in the elite-scripted tragedy planned for America’s republic.” Good actors sometimes accept roles in otherwise bad productions. After all, they have to make a living. But who rejoices when the lure of their participation gets you to endure the bad performance?
In political life, these words take on a deeply consequential meaning. The bad performance of America’s political elite portends misery for us and for our posterity. In the context of the corrupt New Deal party system, making a living means building a base of personal power by political means that squander the money and good faith of the people, leaving their liberty bankrupt. And the good actors are the ones who say and sometimes even do what appeals to the good conscience, heart and character of Americans, while serving, consciously or not, as shills for a paradigm of politics that betrays all three.
In these fateful and portentous years, we approach the denouement of the historic drama in which the American people have acted out humanity’s hope for decent self-government. When will we remember that the enjoyment people derive from a tragic production has much to do with the fact that they’re not involved in it? The only folks likely to enjoy the tragic failure of American liberty are the elite manipulators amassing the wealth and power with which to insulate themselves from its consequences. The folks dutifully singing in the onstage chorus when the stage collapses will be buried in the rubble. Isn’t it long past time to leave this political theatre and rebuild a platform authentically committed to the principles and practices that secure the blessings of liberty, rather than the fearsome curses that accompany its dissolution?