Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, November 06, 2008

On Politicians
Written by: Beck

Imagine a conversation in November of 1976... imagine one person said to another, "A Deomcrat will not win a majority of the popular vote in a presidential race for another 32 years, but when one does, it will be a black man whose closest Democratic competitor was a woman, and also, the defeated Republican's running mate will be a woman." The speaker's grounding in reality--to say nothing of his sanity--would certainly have been called into question.

I think, as I'm sure will come as no surprise, that Obama's policies will be harmful to the nation. But I'm also very proud to live in a country where discrimination really is fading into the shadows of history. It's certainly not gone. But things have come a hell of a long way since November of 1976.

I even think this election will be good for the Republican party, and as a consequence, good for the country. The Republican dominated House and Senate, under the guidance of president Bush, enacted the greatest increases in government spending since FDR. That is not responsible government. Not by any definition of the word. If you look at the principles espoused in the Republican "Contract With American" from 1994, you'll find not one that the Republicans continued to embrace once Bush took office. I believe this reflects a deep flaw in the nature of politicians generally, and I despair at the type of person who is drawn to seek elected office.

In China, government officials have received the death penalty for corruption. In America, politicians typically get off lighter than civilians for their crimes. If I rob a liquor store, the impact is limited to myself, the store's employees and owners, perhaps anyone else nearby if I was waving a gun around... if you really want to stretch it, you could add all of the liquor store's customers to the list of those impacted, if distantly. When a senator is corrupt, the impact is on every citizen of his home state, and if you really want to stretch it, every person in the United States. Yet who does more jail time?

In a sense, a politician's character is far more important than a politician's politics. A person genuinely motivated out of a desire to give back to the community and serve the best interest of the citizenry is likely to make better decisions. And while individuals will certainly be wrong headed and mistaken at times, a congress of such men is likely to generally point in a positive direction. A politician motivated by the search for and retention of power cannot be trusted to make any decisions. They will be motivated by the fickle winds of public opinion and their pocket book. And yet public officialdom, from the smallest town council on up to the highest elected officials in the land, is entirely dominated by the latter type of person.

Such people--as been demonstrated countless times in the more overtly despotic variety of regimes--run nations, economies, and peoples into the ground. The things standing in the way of American public officialdom are a combination of tradition and the Constitution. Traditions weaken, change, and eb over time, but it is defense of those traditions for reason of recognition of their value to both societal stability and governmental restraint that motivates true conservatives (people who are philosophically conservative I should say, so as to distinguish from "religious conservatives" or "social conservatives" who might be quite liberal or radical in other regards).

The United States Constitution is an old document. It certainly shows its age, and its inflexibility certainly can be a hindrance in an era of high technology and rapid change the likes of which the Constitution's drafters could never have envisioned. Nonetheless, it's that very rigidity which makes it so valuable as a defense against the professional political class which I think most citizens would agree cannot be trusted with any more power than they already have. There are a great many people who seek to weaken the Constitution: to soften its provisions, to broaden its interpretation, to render it down into a list of malleable guidelines rather than fixed hard and fast rules which must be observed. To some, rigid adherence to the Constitution seems downright silly: a pointless worship of a piece of paper written in an era when bleeding sick patients still seemed like a good idea. But it is one of the few dams remaining holding back the flood tide of acquisition of power by politicians. Its continued defense by honest and idealistic people is essential to protection of our own individual rights.

I don't know what kind of politician Barack Obama is. The weirdly skewed news cycle prevented a truly clear picture from emerging. We will now find out though, whether we want to or not. Let us hope the surprise is a pleasant one. But let us prepare for the obverse.

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John Beck

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