Obama told us he would clean up the mess in Washington, but he has presided over more corruption than Richard Nixon or Warren Harding. The arrogance of the IRS, the VA and the ObamaCare managers has been exceeded only by the president’s egotism.
What we need now is genuine hope. There is a mess in Washington and it does have to be cleaned up. A nest of bumbling bureaucrats answerable to no one, but on the same wavelength as our imperial chief executive, has decided that they know best how to run our lives.
Yet real hope cannot come from the government. It is the epicenter of the problem. Worse still, those who control it are using its power to entrench their immoral hegemony. When private enterprises go astray, the marketplace disciplines them. Pricey and/or shoddy merchandise is undersold and out-competed. Customers go elsewhere until the bungling company is driven out of business.
With the government, however, there is no recourse save the ballot box. The problem is that when demagogues take over the government, they also acquire the tools to fool voters into thinking they are being helped. If nothing else, they bribe them into complacency.
The only way out is a reform movement. When things get sufficiently bad, the public must coalesce under the banner of good government. The object must not be to eliminate the government, but to restructure it. That which is not working must be excised so that it can be replaced by something better.
During the history of the United States, we have witnessed many such crusades. At one point, the spoils system put in place by Andrew Jackson was dismantled by creating the civil service. At another, women were given the vote they had been denied for centuries.
Even progressivism, the tattered streamer around which liberals rally, began as an effort to gain control over rapacious businessmen. Robber Barons, such as John D. Rockefeller, had their wings clipped once it became apparent they possessed the power to defy the best interests of the American people.
Now it is the government that is defying the best interests of the American people. It has grown so haughty that it intrudes its overbearing nose into everyone’s business. Today, it enforces imbecilic regulations for everything — including the mud puddles on family farms.
Self-appointed busybodies, such as Lois Lerner, are convinced they understand what is in our interest based solely upon their own biases. Not knowledge, but personal prejudices motivate their sallies into areas where they don’t belong.
During the 19th century, Lord Acton warned power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. He could not have been more correct. We saw this in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and now on the banks of the Potomac.
It is long past time for Americans, who want to save their country from condescending politicians, to demand that the miscreants mend their ways. Conservatives have sought to do this by defending the Constitution and fighting for liberty. Sadly, many voters interpret this as trying to revive the past.
Fighting for reform, however, is forward looking. It does not seek to replace autocratic government with anarchy. The goal is not to undo what works, but to improve what can be improved.
Reform must be intelligent. It should consolidate what needs to be consolidated, prune what needs to be pruned and uproot what needs to be deracinated. But it should also introduce programs that enhance our collective well-being.
To this end, it should encourage personal responsibility and interpersonal cooperation. It should also seek to make America strong again. Our best days are not behind us — unless we allow them to be!
Melvyn L. Fein Ph.D. is professor of sociology at Kennesaw State University.