Blind loyalty to government institutions is un-American – and un-democratic
The Democrat leftwingers are increasingly condemning conservative Republicans for attacking America’s public sector institutions – from the judiciary to the military. They claim that criticism of government agencies is un-Amercan – under a romanticized notion that government operates impartially in the best interest of the people. At least that is the left’s mantra when THEY are not the ones criticizing government institutions. (I have often said that hypocrisy is not a problem in politics, it is a professional requirement. But I digress.)
Before you can understand the headline, you need to understand the fundamental difference between progressives on the left and conservatives on the right on the generic issue of institutions of government.
Conservative philosophy is predicated on the belief that the power to govern arises from the inalienable rights of the individual. It is the essence of personal freedom. Conservatives only cede to government that which they determine is necessary to protect individual freedom and maintain an essential level of civil order. Conservative hallmarks are limited government and low taxes – and are constantly concerned about the expansion of government powers. That is why there is not such thing as a “conservative dictatorship.” All authoritarianism is on the extreme left of the political continuum.
Progressives believe in the power of the state and its institutions to do more than protect constitutional rights and maintain public order. They believe in the power of public sector institutions to increasingly regulate the daily lives of individuals. They believe that the power of the state – and its institutions – are pre-eminent. They believe in an ever more powerful central government with expansive regulatory institutions to rule over the populace – the bureaucracy.
Such institutionalists are authoritarians because they proffer a philosophy that the “institutions” of government, run by ensconced bureaucracies, are the preferred form of government. In the extreme, you see that philosophy played out in places like Russia and China.
The words “democracy” and “republic” refer to systems in which the people rule, elected officials are servants and government institutions serve the manifest will of the people. In the progressive ideology, we the people are considered incapable of self-rule. We are not wise enough or noble enough to know and do the right thing. We must be ruled over by institutions controlled by an elite class of unelected and unaccountable government officials.
Every day, we see the left proffering for blind respect and devotion to “institutions.” Government is good. Criticism is bad. They criticize conservatives’ wariness of institutions – such as the IRS, the FBI, the FDA, the CDC and many of the other alphabet-soup agencies — as disloyalty to the nation. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough recently led a panel of bobblehead “contributors” in attacking Republicans for their expressed distrust for government institutions. They say such criticism is a danger to the Republic.
Au contraire! Distrust in government institutions was at the core of the Founders’ philosophy. The very first words of the Preamble to the Constitution were “We the people …” They placed the people at the pinnacle of power.
The entire Constitution is crafted to articulate the inalienable rights of the people over government. In fact, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written to articulate the LIMITS of government power and to warn against tyranny.
To underscore the meaning of those articulated limits on government power, the Founders gave us the Tenth Amendment to prevent the federal government from assuming more power and authority than is specifically granted in the Constitution. Unfortunately, that Amendment is ignored.
If there is any misunderstanding about the purpose and meaning of the Constitution from the Founders standpoint, one only needs to read their various warnings. “It is a Republic, if you can keep it.” They called on we the people to have “eternal vigilance” against government usurpation of the rights and powers of the people. They called it tyranny.
Even the power to amend the Constitution – to form a more perfect Union – is ultimately given to the people, not the state.
Those on the left, who call for fealty to the state, are wrong. Their assumption that government institutions are perfect and operate beyond criticism is wrong – and we have seen it. As good as the American system may be, we have had government institutions abuse power – going rogue. Corrupted government institutions were iconic in the old, segregated south. Were those state administrations and courts – those institutions — worthy of respect? In more modern times, we have seen bipartisan abuses of power by such agencies as the IRS, the FBI, the CIA and even the White House.
Blind trust of government is not only contrary to the meaning of the Constitution, but it also undermines the entire concept of a democratic republic. The call for “eternal vigilance” was at the core of President Reagan’s declaration that “government is not PART of the problem. It IS the problem.”
It is also important to understand that political philosophy is not synonymous with a political Party. While both major parties lean in one philosophic direction or the other, neither fully embraces the conservative/progressive core philosophies.
To understand where the Republican and Democratic parties stand on the political continuum, you only need to answer a few questions. Which political party favors greater authority for an all-powerful central government? Which party builds massive regulatory bureaucracies to oversee and regulate all aspects of a person’s life in ways that were never intended to be the role of the federal government as the Founder’s envisioned and crafted it? Which party favors the redistribution of personal earned wealth through a confiscatory and abusive tax system?
One question provides the answer. Which party calls for uncompromised fealty to government institutions – and which party rejects blind trust and calls for “eternal vigilance” to protect the rights of citizens FROM oppressive and tyrannical government institutions?
Perhaps the most significant comment that came from ill-fated presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was when he said, “The people who we elect to run the government are not the ones who are actually running the government.” A though worth condsidering.
So, there ‘tis.