FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The proper attitude of government towards its citizens is humility. The State kneels before the people who invest it with terrible authority. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are full of language that illustrates this relationship, but you don’t have to look back that far, because American politicians constantly cloak themselves in the language of humility. They always talk about how honored they are to receive the public trust, and speak often of the American people as their “bosses.” They are very keen to portray themselves as the instruments of popular will. Few campaign victory speeches pass without the triumphant candidate professing him or herself “humbled.” For that matter, losing candidates usually say they were humbled by the support they received from their supporters.
An essential component of government humility is its recognition of a higher power. There must be rights the government is absolutely forbidden to infringe – a higher power granted those rights, so the government cannot take them away, no matter how much popular support it might enjoy at any given moment. There must be laws which the government can be punished for breaking.
There is nothing humble about the socialist conception of government. It is inherently arrogant, because it recognizes no limitation beyond the politics of the moment… and that’s a limit the all-powerful State believes it can erase, with determined effort. Standing as the judge of what some “deserve,” and others are obliged to surrender, is exhilarating. It’s quite a rush to believe yourself empowered by the Will of the Majority, rather than the humble servant of all the people. Dissenters become enemies, and you can savor victories over them, to the applause of your fervent supporters.
What is more arrogant than declaring your coercive agenda to be “progress,” whose inexorable path your opponents wish to obstruct? You’re declaring yourself the champion of not only current popular will, but of History itself. Your agenda is the call of destiny, while your opponents are merely playing politics.
Funny how that works out, isn’t it? Those who worship government power believe that only political realities should restrain their ambition, but they also portray political opposition as illegitimate and trivial. Their attitude is that electoral victory not only validates, but sanctifies, their agenda until the next election. We’re supposed to obey them until our next opportunity to fill out a comment card and drop it in a ballot box. Needless to say, this attitude changes sharply when they lose an election.
The deep arrogance of Big Government has found no better exemplar than Barack Obama. No criticism of him is legitimate, no opposition exists in good faith, all who oppose him are monsters, and none dare question him. The scandals currently swirling around his Administration illustrate this arrogance. Beginning with the first hours after the attack, everyone involved in the Benghazi disaster has responded to challenges with “How dare you?” White House Senior Adviser Dan Pfeiffer toured the Sunday shows to dispense indignant outrage that anyone would dare to ask what President Obama was doing while the attack unfolded, or how the false White House narrative of protests run wild came into existence. His favorite word was “irrelevant.” Claiming the sole authority to decide which questions are “relevant” is a supreme act of arrogance.
The Administration’s persecution of the press – now widened to include surveillance of Fox News reporters even more startling than the original Associated Press scandal – is a mixture of haughty noble privilege and contempt for their own allies. They are clearly assuming the media will fall back in love with them. And of course the perversion of the IRS (and other agencies) into weapons against political opponents is a ghastly abuse of power. Once again, dissent is judged illegitimate. Watch the small but annoying parade of Obama apologists who claim that the IRS was only conducting due diligence against conservative political groups who wanted to abuse non-profit status. These concerns have never been raised about far more overtly political left-wing non-profits. Such groups were soaring past the IRS even as conservatives languished in paperwork dungeons. Here again, we find the notion of dissent as illegitimate – only liberal policies can be embraced in non-partisan good faith.
No one should be surprised this titanic government is arrogant, and it got that way long before Barack Obama showed up. The power of a just government is supposed to be circumscribed by the rights of the people, but instead the State sets our limits, telling us that entire spheres of activity have been forever taken off the private-sector table. Our ambitions are weighed and measured; some are told they have an obligation to support others, without asking for details of exactly how their money is being spent. Citizens who are guilty of no crime nevertheless run into the coercive power of the State on a regular basis. The principle that only criminals should have reason to fear government power is considered laughably quaint. No criminal law is as complex as ObamaCare, and none can boast of having so many dedicated agents of enforcement.
It’s all sold as a messianic crusade for “equality” and “justice.” Our lost state of higher liberty is a monochrome Ozzie and Harriet past we can never return to. President Obama has described the free market as a predatory wilderness in which innocent people will be devoured by predatory capitalists, unless the government protects them. His famous “you didn’t build that” comment was a declaration that the State is senior partner in every success story. He doesn’t have much time for his duties, because he has a higher calling to answer. No wonder he greets each new scandal with aristocratic disdain. Has anything yet occurred that would change his assessment of the people he rules? Polls suggest the public remains willing to go to war against itself on his behalf. We must be united in demanding the humble submission of the State, rather than making demands from each other. That only fuels its arrogance, as it steps forward to fulfill those demands deems worthy.