“Look, what we are dealing with in America is the same thing Europe has put up with for centuries: Royalty versus peasants. The difference is, in Europe the royalty is through birth, in America the royalty is elected!” — from a European who became a naturalized U.S. citizen and Rifleman.
Once, on a cold morning at a rifle range, several Riflemen were discussing our disdain for Congress and the other idiots in the federal government. After much debate as to why our elected servants believed they were our lord and masters, one fellow piped up and gave us the above statement. He was originally European, but he loved America with fierce pride. He explained that royalty believes that it can do whatever it wants to the peasants, and that the peasants have to take it.
That truly captures the current state of politics at the federal level: We have an elected Royalty. Four hundred thirty-five Representatives, one hundred Senators, one President. Do the math, and that means that 536 persons, or less than 0.000018% of the population, rule 300,000,000+ Americans. If we crunch the numbers even further, we see that legislation is passed by a simple majority of 218 Representatives, 51 Senators, and one President (assuming no filibusters or vetoes).
Think about that. A nation of 300,000,000 is at the mercy of 270 politicians if they say “Thus it is written, thus it shall be done.”
At this point, someone jumps up to shout “What about the Courts! Doesn’t the court system and the Supreme Court hold the trump card to overrule the other two branches of government?” That is a valid question that deserves an answer. First, the courts were never meant to be supreme over the other two branches of government; the Supreme Court granted itself the power of judicial review in 1803 in the case of Marbury v. Madison. Second, the Supreme Court’s decisions are just as susceptible to social and political factors as the other branches of government. Finally, a Supreme Court decision becomes law of the land when a simple majority of five unelected, lifetime-appointment Justices say so. And as we saw in the Dred Scott and Kelo v. New London decisions, they don’t always guarantee liberty.
So we have reached a point where 536 barons and dukes, their knights in their law enforcement agencies, and their courtiers in the media, in the federal bureaucracy, and in academia rule a vast nation and its wealth. They have become American Royalty, and if you are not with them then you are by definition an American Peasant.
How has this phenomenon arisen? There are probably a great number of reasons, but two in particular stand out:
1. Americans tend to view their country and their government as the same thing.
2. Americans have evolved into a view of elected officials as “leaders.”
The defining events of the United States’ birth were the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, and the Constitution. Our national heritage and culture derive from the rejection of autocratic government and the creation of a representative republic whose express purpose was the protection of individual rights. It is not surprising that we take such pride in the nature, structure, and original mission of our federal government.
But that does not mean that our federal government is the same thing as our nation itself. although we respect and revere the Constitution, that does not mean that our federal government is inseparable from the concept of our nation. The federal government is supposed to be merely a set of managers for national-level policy and execution within strictly defined powers.
Our greatest weakness as Americans is to confuse love of country with love of our government. And the government exploits that weakness at every opportunity. (Remember Slick Willie’s infamous quote “You can’t say you love your country and hate your government”?) The politicians, the pundits, the bureaucrats, the cultural elites and others that form the current American Royalty know that weakness well. They love it because it is the single greatest security blanket they have. They have manipulated language, imagery, and guilt to make Americans believe that criticism of government (particularly the federal government) is criticism of America itself.
Many patriots will say that there is plenty of opportunity for criticism of government, that the Tea Party movement for example is clearly a loud and growing voice of dissent. But where is the action? We hear plenty of noise, but do we see widespread civil disobedience of the government’s edicts? We do not, unless it is from those special-interest groups who know their actions are protected by the government who seeks their votes and support.
The second historical trend leading to the growth of American Royalty is America’s willingness to view elected officials as “leaders.” Oddly, I thought elected officials were government servants sent there to do the people’s bidding in accordance with Constitutional guidelines. I thought they answered to us. Why do we view them as leaders? Why do we grant them a moral and official authority that they have not demonstrated they can hold? A sergeant in the Army receives training and experience and must demonstrate leadership proficiency before he is allowed to pin on that rank and lead five solders. Why are we so quick to bestow the mantle of leadership on a politician whose only demonstrated skill is promising the advance auction of other peoples’ property and income?
So how do we correct these situations? Start by educating yourself and others on the Constitution’s limits on governmental power. Next, hold elected officials accountable at the ballot box, at public meetings, and in writing. Challenge their positions in language of freedom, not by using their words. You will lose a debate over “affordable housing” every time because there is no way to win public opinion while being against affordable housing. Instead, stop using their words and call it what it is in plain, common-sense language that puts them on the defensive.