Lately I’ve been feeling quite depressed about the state of our nation. I guess I’m suffering from political burnout.
That’s an amazing thing when you consider I haven’t exactly immersed myself in politics. We don’t have television reception, and so I haven’t seen any televised debates. Nor have I made any real effort to listen to any of the candidates. It’s gotten to the point where I just don’t care.
This week I’ve been re-reading portions of Harry Browne’s excellent book “Why Government Doesn’t Work.” Harry Browne was the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 1996 and 2000. Naturally he never even got close to winning because he had the audacity to suggest that government, in its current incarnation, doesn’t work. Sheesh, no wonder he was never elected.
Consider his words on why government grows. “The bad consequences of a government program usually don’t show up immediately. And the delay may be long enough to hide the connection between the program and its results. So government never has to say it’s sorry – never has to take responsibility for the misery it causes. Instead, it can blame everything on personal greed, profit-hungry corporations, and the ‘private sector.’ And the government’s cure for the problems is to impose bigger programs, more regulations, and higher taxes. … Each government program carries within it the seeds of future programs that will be ‘needed’ to clean up the mess the first program creates. No matter how much mischief it causes, government always shows up in a cavalry uniform – riding in to rescue us from the problems it created. … Government grows, too, because the subsidy given to one group inspires others to demand the same benefits. And when government protects one company or industry from competition, others wonder why they shouldn’t demand the same protection.”
The interesting thing is how accurately the Founding Fathers anticipated exactly what Harry Browne wrote. Sure, in the first 150 years or so our government violated the Constitution numerous times, but that was nothing compared to the blatant, transparent, palpable loathing nearly every current politician expresses (subtly, of course) for the bylaws of our nation. And when, to a person, they put their hand on a Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, they do so with the absolute knowledge that they are the domestic enemy because they have every intention of tearing down, not upholding, that document.
I’ve been asked a number of times whom I would endorse as the GOP candidate for president. How does “nobody” sound? With the possible exception of Ron Paul (whose chances of winning are low), not one of the candidates has the slightest interest in reducing government to the constraints outlined in the Constitution.
Literally the only now-acceptable platform from which a modern politician can argue is how smoothly and glibly he will further trash the Constitution. Stripped of romantic notions of being civil “servants,” it’s actually pretty funny to hear these guys talk. “HIS government solution isn’t as good as MY government solution!” they announce. But never – not in a zillion years – does it occur to anyone that government isn’t, nor should be, the solution.
Of course politicians will conveniently ignore this. Most politicians enter the arena of politics for personal gain, power, glory, accolades … in short, for all the wrong reasons. They don’t enter the political arena with the intent of upholding the Constitution.
So I understand why politicians talk about government solutions. What I cannot grasp is why citizens don’t understand that more government is not the answer. Are we so collectively hoodwinked that we cannot see how the cancerous growth of government is bad?
Oh wait. I forgot that a majority Americans are now dependent in some way on the government. In fact, government spending on “dependence programs” accounts for more than 70 percent of the federal budget. No wonder government has gotten bigger and more intrusive. We’ve let it. We’ve demanded it. We’ve wallowed in it, with our hands outstretched and our mouths wide open.
Government creates artificial monopolies. It skews free-market competition. It corrupts the private industry (banking? health care? education?) by offering bribes, giving sweetheart deals, immunizing officials from prosecution and otherwise sticking its nose where it has absolutely no business.
So when election-year promises come down to politicians informing us that “MY government solution is better than THEIR government solution,” I’m not impressed. If you read Mr. Browne’s book, you’ll understand that if we got rid of unconstitutional government interference, most of our country’s problems would solve themselves through the often harsh corrections of the free market.
The trouble is, by allowing free-market corrections, we’d have no one to blame but ourselves when things go wrong or fail. But when we accept Big Brother solutions, it means we can blame the other guy’s government. And that’s why this nation is so polarized – we’ve forgotten how to take personal blame and responsibility for our failures, and instead spend all our time blaming the other guy’s government “solution.”
And so government will grow and grow. Our freedoms will shrink and shrink. How this will end is anyone’s guess, but it won’t be a happy ending. That much we know from studying the cycle of history.
So, for whom will I vote for president? I don’t know. It’s almost to the point where I don’t even care. Whoever wins will still continue to trample on the Constitution, further regulate my life and pretend that rights come from regulations rather than from God – so what does it matter if it’s a Democrat or a Republican? They’re both the same. In fact, the logic of some particularly despairing conservatives is to vote for Obama so he’ll ruin the country faster and spark a revolution. I can almost see their point.
I’ll vote, of course. I’ll vote for the most constitutionally conservative candidate available because I have a civic and moral duty to do so. But I’ll vote in complete understanding that it won’t much matter. The moment a winner puts his or her hand on a Bible and pretends to take the oath, the farce goes on.
Ultimately, if history is the judge, we’ll reach the point where we won’t even be given the choice of which path we’ll take into the abyss. The government will decide that for us.