Tooooo Much Government
When I consider the so-called Liberals of these times, I find it impossible to compare them favorably with a man whose works I wish they would read, Henry David Thoreau. Do I agree entirely with Thoreau? No. I think some of the stuff he wrote is appalling. Nonetheless, the man grounded himself in the real world, and he was thoughtful and eloquent. I wish I could do as well.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. — Henry David Thoreau’s WALDEN
What is desperation? Is it not like drowning? When someone is drowning, it is sometimes difficult to tell. The water over a drowning man obscures our vision of that poor soul, and the water filling the victim’s lungs impedes communications. Nonetheless, the drowning one knows his plight. He screams inside in fear and desperation. If he gives in to his fears, he writhes and thrashes the water in futility.
They say we are descended from apes. They say that we have inherited an ancient relic, the fight or flight response. Perhaps this instinct’s source does lie in the genes of long dead beasts. Whatever its source, when we are full of fear, we too easily panic like a dumb beast. Instead of thinking and trusting our own judgment, we can be tempted to rely upon confident oratory. Then we compound our foolishness.
No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America. They are rare in the history of the world. There are orators, politicians, and eloquent men, by the thousand; but the speaker has not yet opened his mouth to speak who is capable of settling the much-vexed questions of the day. We love eloquence for its own sake, and not for any truth which it may utter, or any heroism it may inspire. Our legislators have not yet learned the comparative value of free-trade and of freedom, of union, and of rectitude, to a nation. They have no genius or talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufacturers and agriculture. If we were left solely to the wordy wit of legislators in Congress for our guidance, uncorrected by the seasonable experience and the effectual complaints of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations. For eighteen hundred years, though perchance I have no right to say it, the New Testament has been written; yet where is the legislator who has wisdom and practical talent enough to avail himself of the light which it sheds on the science of legislation? — Henry David Thoreau’s ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
Our leaders cannot really run or fix our lives. When our leaders try to run everything, they just get in over their heads with a weight that drags them down. When they carry the load of so many others, they find they no longer know how to swim any better than anyone else. Yet how they try. They thrash and kick and destroy anyone who stands between them and the object of their desire. They make a mess. To keep their own heads above the waves, they pull all others down.
Unfortunately, so long as absurd promises win elections, there will be men foolish enough to make them. So it is that last November we elected Barak Obama and a Democratic Party majority Congress. We elected an experienced orator with almost no experience as an executive. We elected a Congress that considers the average man little better than a domesticated beast. We elected men and women who detest any possibility that we might make a decision without their guidance, approval, and control.
So we now find ourselves in danger of sinking further into the depths. Fortunately, the first panic has subsided. If we have chosen to do so, we have had time to think. What can we do?
What is at issue? In a free nation, men and women know how to define civil rights, and they defer to each other’s civil rights. Instead of being regarded as royalty, political leaders vie to be the People’s greatest servants. Does that describe our situation? No. Of course not, but why not?
Consider the nature of leadership. We give the men and women and who lead us great power — and great temptation. What does the Bible say?
Matthew 26:41 (New International Version)
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
When We the People give some of our fellows leadership over us, we acquire a great responsibility. For the sake of their souls, we must hold them accountable. We must see to it that those who lead us do not give way temptation. We must limit the authority of our leaders and keep them accountable. We do that in several ways.
- We limit the size and power of government by limiting its responsibilities. What we can do for ourselves, we do for ourselves.
- We divide government into separate branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.
- We further divide government into hierarchical, but independent levels: local, state and federal.
- Finally, we write down our laws. These generally prohibit individual from doing anything that would interfere with another’s life or liberty. On the other hand, these laws authorized government — and our leaders — to do only that which is needful.
Our laws allow us to hold our leaders accountable. We can point to them and say when they have exceeded their authority. This obligation is our responsibility and our salvation. With laws we can point to our leaders’ proposals and demand restraint. With laws we can point to our leaders’ infractions and demand their removal. Yet we have not done that. As any fool can see, our government has ballooned enormously. Inevitably, the rights of the People have diminished, and our leaders look more and more like royalty.
We exercise accountability over our leaders through elections, and we form political parties to both promote our candidates and hold our elected officials accountable. Unfortunately, like anything else, political parties too are subject to slow corruption. Instead of serving as the voices of the People, over time our political parties have come to serve the “needs” of our leaders. Instead of being mechanisms by which our leaders can be held to account, our political parties have slowly become tools through which our leaders exercise control.
In Virginia, this problem has become all to obvious. Last May, the Republican Party of Virginia held a convention. It was apparent then that our leaders were not particularly satisfied with the results. Instead of their preferred candidate, the delegates chose Jeff Frederick. Because the results were not even close, they were neither contested nor publicized.
Since his election, much effort has been expended to remove Frederick. Why? Many suspect the worst. Instead of making the party responsive to its candidates, Frederick threatened to make the party responsive to its members. So no one expected the party’s candidates, particularly incumbents, to like Frederick. A party responsive to its members will hold candidates accountable.
The Battle Over the Republican Party of Virginia
Is it possible Frederick needs to be replaced? I am not so stubborn I cannot be persuaded. However, with the involvement of the political leadership, I have every reason to be highly suspicious. Consider how the Washington Post put it.
By challenging Frederick, McDonnell has picked a fight with some of his party’s most loyal supporters. Frederick, a social and economic conservative, was elected chairman at last year’s GOP state convention after he waged a campaign to unseat John H. Hager, a moderate, from the position. Frederick cobbled together a coalition of several thousand antiabortion and anti-tax activists as well as home-schoolers, many of the same delegates who supported Del. Robert G. Marshall (Prince William) over former governor James S. Gilmore III in the Senate race.
Until last week, McDonnell appeared to be embracing a strategy of marginalizing Frederick and the state party during this year’s governor’s race. Last month, McDonnell announced that lobbyist and former Bush administration official Ed Gillespie, who chaired the state GOP committee in 2007, would be his campaign chairman.
The hire was widely believed to be an indication that McDonnell was building a campaign apparatus that would largely bypass the state party. But McDonnell is now signaling he wants more control over the party apparatus. It’s understandable for a Republican nominee to want to have a close working relationship with the state party chairman, but McDonnell must now also face the potential consequences associated with his decision to try to remove Frederick. (from here)
We are also getting is what is known as the bandwagon effect.
JNotes takes issue (here) with Frederick’s scorched earth policy. How rude! Instead of rolling over and playing dead, Frederick went public! He is actually fighting back?
Mason Conservative woefully wishes that for the good of the party Frederick would resign. Has he forgotten that ours is suppose to be a society that elevates the rights of the individual?
I call again for Chairman Frederick to help avoid the bloodbath and please resign so we can move forward for our ticket. (from here)
Here Bearing Drift lists the charges. There are ten of them. What a nice round number!
Here not too Conservative TooConservative reports the state Senate Republicans don’t like Frederick. That’s a surprise?
Nonetheless, there are still a few voices expressing doubt or speaking out in support of Frederick.
Virginia Conservative’s Weblog provides an orderly review of the situation and offers this comment.
Things are bad, yes, but do they warrant Chairman Frederick’s removal? Right now I don’t know. However, as Chairman Frederick fights for his political life and his opponents gather their forces, I don’t think any vicious new chapter to this conflict will surprise me. Nothing defeats the Republican Party quite as well as the Republican Party itself. (from here)
Yankee Phillip posted Frederick’s response to the charges (here).
Even blogs from outside the state have something to say (here, for example).
ShaunKenney.com offers an interesting analysis here. What is most interesting about Kenney’s article is that he notes that Delegate Bob Marshall and Virginia AG candidate and current Senator Ken Cuccinelli have remained neutral. Instead of taking sides, both of these men provide warning. If the perception remains that Frederick is being railroaded, the party will be divided.
Meanwhile, Democrat blogs are reveling in a “house divided.” Here Coarse Cracked Corn reports “the Augusta Republican Committee passed a resolution of support for Jeff Frederick.” Here Blue Virginia cheers for Jeff. There is much more of that, but why bother to review it?
What can we do? Those individuals who plan on attending this year’s Virginia Republican Convention need to make their concerns known. If we are to have justice and not a lynching, we cannot allow either ourselves or the State Central Committee to thrash and flounder in desperation. We must demand an orderly and open process.