Psychologists call it free association. Philosophers call it stream of consciousness. Lawyers call it an excited utterance. It is the process by which people admit their real belief system in a way that is unintentional and completely honest. Professionals have learned that these little explosions of truth-telling are ways that complex human beings find their real feelings about a subject. Often, human beings will hide behind rhetoric, kid themselves about their own true thoughts, and fall into a pattern of self deception. But, many times when a person is off-guard, they will speak the unadorned truth. Such times are especially telling because they give a voice to the real meanings behind their actions.
One such instance is an interview by the Los Angeles Times by the speaker of the California assembly, Karen Bass. The Speaker was in a very comfortable setting. The LA Times, a reliable bastion of Democratic politics, was questioning the Speaker on her views about their gargantuan budget shortfall. Bass ended up speaking with more candor than she probably now realizes was wise. On the subject of talk radio, the reporter asked her what she thought of these conservative voices. Here is their exchange.
How do you think conservative talk radio has affected the Legislature’s work?
The Republicans were essentially threatened and terrorized against voting for revenue. Now [some] are facing recalls. They operate under a terrorist threat: “You vote for revenue and your career is over.” I don’t know why we allow that kind of terrorism to exist. I guess it’s about free speech, but it’s extremely unfair.
Now, most people reading this answer would come up with some very broad and very true generalizations about Ms. Bass’ words. They are arrogant. They are dismissive. They are very disturbing. But most of all, they are a serious mischaracterization of American polity. However, I would like to humbly try and unpack her language and see exactly what these words mean on a philosophic level. For a leader of a major part of a branch of government in our largest state to say this is quite telling. The story it tells is truly despicable.
First of all, her characterization of some GOPers as ‘threatening’ their legislators is absolutely correct and I would argue fair. After all, we are being implicit in our threat by merely expressing our opinion. Whether that opinion is for or against increasing revenue levels is an implied threat. If we don’t get our way, you’re in danger of losing your position. She doesn’t believe that is a proper thing for people to do. The reason is apparent is in her accusation that this is ‘terrorizing’ them. In other words, Ms. Bass infers that for ordinary citizens to threaten their representatives is a form of physical intimidation. No one could seriously believe terrorizing involved voting. If one is terrorized it is a threat on their life, isn’t it? Perhaps in the Speaker’s world it is. But, that is quite telling in and of itself.
Her next statement is the nature of the threat. She acknowledges the threat is not bodily harm as terrorism is more aptly applied to. No, it is the threat of recall. In other words, the people demanding their representatives to, well, represent their interests is a kind of terrorism. So, it is the populism of the people that is the terrorism. She next describes the conditions of this terrorism. They are being threatened by people with petitions and ballots. She is describing this idea as a poor, put-upon legislator is surrounded by an angry mob of people who are threatening to mark a ballot. The horror. This belief system is predicated on a philosophy of legislators as guardians, not representatives, of the people. These ‘guardians’ must act in the best interest of their incompetent wards. But, the irresponsible wards have grabbed pitchforks and threaten to skew their caretakers’ political lives.
Which is what she narrates with her next statement. These poor politicians, who are only looking out for their wards’ best interests, are having their careers threatened. ‘Status is everything’ is this woman’s argument. So, it isn’t the people’s business that is being conducted, it is the political careers of these legislators that is important. Never mind, “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union,” business. Forget the “governments are formed for the people, by the people, and with the people’s consent” nonsense. This is about the status and careers of politicians doing their level best to RULE the people.
Then, Ms. Bass, pseudo-liberal that she is, uses the best throw-away line one can imagine. She dismissively tips her hat to the idea of freedom of speech and then opines on this freedom’s relative fairness to these politicians careers. Apparently, the political life of a Sacramento bigwig is why we fought the American Revolution. Maybe, we fought the Civil War over the success of politicians’ status among one another. Perhaps, just maybe, we are fighting in Afghanistan against those who attacked us on 9/11 so she can hold the speakership of the California assembly. Because, we are certainly not fighting to protect our freedoms to speak, assembly, petition, and govern ourselves. That is claptrap for the masses.
This woman is a bone fide oligarch. She is more worried about the status and stature of her fellow politicians, and by extension of course herself, than she is about our pesky liberty. This woman is not unique. She isn’t a strange example of how corrupt our political culture has become. She is a shining example of just how philosophically removed the collectivists are concerning American freedoms and beliefs. She is only an example of the hubris and contempt these statists have toward the population. Karen Bass, in an excited utterance, happened to say what most of these ruling classers believe. They are our keepers. We are their charges. It’s time to remind them, gently, and with ballots, just how wrong they are. We are Americans and will have no ruling gentry. Throw them out.