FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Beware the menace of unity
The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on Barack Obama’s abuse of power this week, leading to a good deal of dismissive commentary and general neglect from the media, because apparently it’s not even worth talking about the proper checks and balances of government power if you’re not ready to impeach the President as the grand finale. It’s too bad more attention was not paid to the hearings, because there was much powerful criticism of the imperial presidency, not all of it from conservative Republicans. Law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University warned that Obama has “become the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid.” That’s pretty heavy talk.
The arguments from Obama defenders were interesting, too, and I say that as a champion of the Old Republic who has more than a few reservations about where Emperor Palpatine is taking us, how much this sweet Death Star project is going to cost taxpayers, and why we’re still putting up with Hutt gangsters running our desert planets. We heard much discussion of the popular will, and how it doesn’t make sense to hold elections that just result in gridlock. People want Washington to Get Things Done, you know! And if that means the President has to make a few end runs around the tar pits of Congress, and violate the letter of the Affordable Care Act to protect its spirit, so be it. He’s the most powerful man in the world, the one and only public official everyone gets to vote for.
Democrats have generally made a big stink about how opposition to Obama’s agenda is “sabotage” or “treason,” even when the subject of that opposition is a bill absolutely no one in the GOP voted for, and whose failure they accurately predicted. It’s supposedly their patriotic duty to step forward and fix ObamaCare anyway, because it represents the Will of the People, even though most of them hate it, and they dislike it more with every day of prolonged exposure. We’re told the people approve of many of the stated goals of ObamaCare – insurance for everyone, nobody should be financially ruined by illness, 26-year-old “children” should be covered by Mom and Dad’s insurance, etc. Therefore they support ObamaCare, even if 60 percent or more of them tell pollsters they don’t. In the name of national unity, can’t we all come together and make the darn thing work?
This is where we run into an important sub-paragraph of the Left’s vow to execute the Will of the People: the People are short-sighted greedy dimwits who don’t really know what they want, so the highly educated power brokers of the Left have to figure it out, and take control of their lives to make utopia happen. The Left tells the People what they really want, then gives it to them good and hard, concealing the true costs for as long as possible, until there’s no way the People can vote themselves off the path of virtue.
My advice to anyone who hears talk of “national unity” is to grab your wallet and run, as fast as you can. There is no reason to expect anything approaching unanimous consensus on anything but a few core issues, most of which are nicely covered in the Constitution. There are not many activist projects “everyone,” or even nearly everyone, energetically supports. Therefore, there aren’t many things a lawful and humble federal government should be doing. How does it make sense to seek, or demand, “unity” from a nation of 300 million diverse people, scattered across dramatically different regions?
One cannot help noticing that the quest to manufacture “unity” and consensus leads the Ruling Class to tell a lot of gigantic lies, and not just the patently obvious “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” hoodwinks. Nearly everything about our oh-so-“progressive” tax system is a lie, an illusion, designed to conceal the true cost of what government does. The political class is never honest with us about the “problems” it means to solve, or how it plans to go about solving them, or what it will do when the solutions don’t work out.
It’s not surprising that we have a contentious Congress that bickers and argues a lot. That’s their job. The Founders were very concerned about “factions” seizing power and declaring themselves the authentic voice of the People. The division of powers, and the machinery of political representation, was supposed to gum up the works. The Senate was supposed to give state governments a voice in Washington, not serve as another instrument of popular “democracy.” The tyranny of the majority was a danger forever on the Founders’ minds. They certainly weren’t comfortable with the idea of an all-powerful capital city forcing 49 percent of the country to do what the other 51 percent thought best – never mind that it doesn’t take anything like 51 percent support for a canny politician supported by devoted voting blocs to declare himself the Voice of the People.
Break power down to the state level, and you give citizens an easy method for escaping from what they find intolerable. But bring all discourse to Washington, settle everything at the federal level, use inescapable national power to force dissenters into compliance…. how can such a system avoid becoming tyrannical, even when the people running it have (or claim to have) the best intentions? The essence of freedom is the ability to refuse, the right to say “no.” The crusade to divine popular will, and command obedience in the name of unified purpose, inevitably tramples on that right. We’re told that elections are the only check on power we require… by people who are confident that the work of the previous election winners can never be repealed.
There’s no reason to entertain anyone who claims to know what the American people want. We are a nation of free individuals, not a collective hive. We empower our federal government to secure individual, inalienable rights. Everything else should involve the long, hard, but extremely rewarding process of persuading people to cooperate voluntarily, not defeating and subduing the minority in an election and spitting “I won” in their faces when they express reluctance to go along with the agenda of the victors. But that’s the inevitable, dreary, oppressive result of every ideology that cooks up plans for the people to march in unison until they reach utopia.