One of the great causes of division in America is the fact that everything, and I mean everything, has become a political issue. Any problem, any complaint, any issue that someone has is now thrown into the political sphere. Consider some of the big news on “the hill” this week. Rodger Clemens, a baseball player, is being prosecuted for lying to congress. What did he allegedly lie about? State secrets, embezzlement, fraud, treason? No. It was whether or not he ever used “performance enhancing” substances. Not to excuse his alleged lying but why was he ever before congress in the first place?! What authority does the government have to regulate A GAME!
We the people, unfortunately, have come to believe that it is right and proper to use the power of government to solve all our problems and meet all our needs. Every time one American citizen says “there ought to be a law” to fix some complaint or offense and another one says “government ought to…” to meet some need or want, our government is happy to intervene and in the process take more or our freedom and more of our money. Did you ever stop and wonder why we have all the special interest groups and lobbyists we love to complain about? It is because each one of them represents some group of citizens, small or large, that want to use the power of government for their own ends. In this game there are winners and losers and the animosity between the two increases as the stakes get higher and government becomes larger and more powerful. For every citizen that wants the government to do something, there is another citizen that must pay for it and give up some bit of freedom to accommodate this new government activity. That other citizen must now “lobby” on his own behalf, playing the game for his own protection. The government becomes no more than a legalized criminal enterprise, granting arbitrary favors and demanding payment for protection.
When we play this game, however, we never know when the power of government may be turned against us. That is why elections are so contentious. We feel the need to elect people who will protect the privileged status or benefits we have lobbied for and if the “opposition” gets elected, we think we are in danger of losing that status or those benefits. The dirty little secret is that the politicians are doing nothing but playing each of us against the other in order to increase their own power. They scare us exactly along those lines, that some group will lose this or that privilege or that government will adopt some policy destructive to our values or new found “rights”. This scheme goes back to FDR who was the first politician on the national stage to adopt this strategy and it has been used ever since by both major parties. It is a game plan in which “we the people” ultimately lose because every time an individual or group succeeds in getting a piece of the government pie, we all lose more money and more liberty while government grows larger and becomes farther removed from its only legitimate purpose.
With the ascendancy of Barak Obama to the presidency, the mask has come off and this process of remaking our understanding of the purpose of government has reached its logical conclusion. President Obama’s only experience in life outside of government was as a community organizer. What does a community organizer do? He or she organizes the citizens of a community to more effectively lobby the government so they can receive some benefit. Now that they are in charge they have discarded the rhetoric of freedom and responsibility that has historically at least served as a veneer for self serving politicians and unabashedly proclaim that government can do anything, meet any need and solve any problem. If “we the people” would just shut up and let the experts in government take care of us, we would realize an American Utopia where everyone is equally healthy, wealthy and wise.
Think about the attitude of the people who desire to be “public servants” as election day approaches. Why do 99.9% of people go into government, either as elected politicians or unelected bureaucrats? One of two reasons. First, there are the selfish ones who want to receive personal benefits from fleecing “we the people”. The elected ones want the prestige and the ability to use the power of government to enrich themselves and their friends. The appointed or hired ones want to receive pay an average of 20% more than similar jobs in the private sector, generous health benefits, pensions in which the taxpayers pay their salaries for the rest of their lives and the security of knowing that their job does not depend on their efficiency, value or success but on the ability of the politicians to wring enough money out of the rest of us to ensure their perpetual employment, with raises. Then there are the people who go into “public service” because they truly believe that government is the answer and that all problems should be solved by forcing people to pay for and conform to their vision of how people should behave and society should be organized. The only substantial difference between the con artists and “true believers” in our government and those of Stalin’s Russia or Hitler’s Germany are the penalties for non-conformity. We may be fined, jailed or litigated to death instead of being put in the gulag, concentration camp or shot outright. As our government becomes more and more totalitarian our real freedom becomes a distant memory squashed under the heel, not of a jack booted storm trooper, but the expensive wingtips of a highly paid bureaucrat.
The purpose of government, as defined in the Declaration of Independence, is to protect our God-given rights, among them being our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The only legitimate reason government has for using force against any citizen is if that citizen has violated the rights of his fellow. It does not have the legitimate right to extort money from one citizen to give it to another. It does not have the legitimate right to regulate the behavior of one citizen because it may offend another. It does not have the right to grant privileged status to one citizen and reduce the status of another. A government that was limited to the protection of our rights run by people who believed that was the only purpose of government would not be involved in most of the things that divide us so deeply. It would not be using the money it forcibly extracts from us for things we don’t approve of. It would not be surrounded by lobbyists circling like jackals to rip a larger piece of flesh from the taxpayer. It would be a government irrelevant to the daily lives of its citizens, staying out of their pockets and activities, allowing them to peruse their dreams, only interfering to call an actual penalty when necessary. It would be a government that would once again unshackle the indomitable human spirit which has yet to meet a problem that time and determination exercised in a free environment in which the rewards belong solely to the one who expended the effort cannot solve.
There is only one way that is going to happen and that is if we make it happen. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are just pieces of paper with wonderful ideas that only have worth when people of flesh and blood believe in their words and principles and act upon them. Only when people in government believe that their only task is to protect our rights will our rights be protected. Only when “we the people” believe that government exists only to protect our rights will we put people in government who will not use the power of government against us. Only when “we the people” stop expecting government to solve our problems, meet our needs and grant our wishes will we get the government the founders envisioned, the government best for us. We get the government we want. If we want a government that meets our every need, we will live as beggars and slaves. If we want a government irrelevant to our daily lives we need to start learning to live without it and elect people who will deconstruct it.