So does Mitt Romney.
Your senator looks in the mirror every morning and sees a woman superior to you.
And your congressman views his judgment and wisdom as lofty – high above that of yours and your fellow citizens.
After all, it takes a certain arrogance to work as a centralizer.
At some level, most members of the Washington political class believe they have a divine right to rule over you. Oh, they may go to D.C. with idealistic notions of representing the people. But the dirty water of the Potomac soon washes those silly ideals away – if they ever really existed at all.
The 2008 economic crisis vividly illustrated the divide between the American people and those who hold office. Polling at the time showed Americans opposed the TARP bailout plan to buy “toxic” bank assets by three or four to one. But Republicans and Democrats, from President G.W. Bush to then candidate Barack Obama, came together in lock-step agreement with nearly unanimous support from mainstream media. Congress overwhelmingly passed the bailout bill.
They knew better than us! In fact, their wisdom even superseded the constitutional limits on their power. After all, President Bush needed to “abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.”
Angelo M. Codevilla, observing the complete disregard of the people’s wishes by those in power, dubbed them “America’s ruling class,” in a July 2010 American Spectator article. He used the term not only to describe politicians, but the academic and media support system surrounding them.
When this majority (of Americans) discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term “political class” came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the “ruling class.” And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.
And this class believes it alone possess the smarts, know-how and foresight to rule.
Of course, this is nothing new. Political philosopher Frederic Bastiat observed this type of arrogant behavior by the political class in the mid-nineteenth century.
In fact, these writers on public affairs begin by supposing that people have within themselves no means of discernment; no motivation to action. The writers assume that people are inert matter, passive particles, motionless atoms, at best a kind of vegetation indifferent to its own manner of existence. They assume that people are susceptible to being shaped – by the will and hand of another person – into an infinite variety of forms, more or less symmetrical, artistic and perfected.
Moreover, not one of these writers on governmental affairs hesitates to imagine that he himself – under the title of organizer, discoverer, legislator, or founder – is this will and hand, this universal motivating force, this creative power whose sublime mission is to mold these scattered materials – persons – into a society.
These socialist writers look upon people in the same manner that the gardener views his trees. Just as the gardener capriciously shapes the trees into pyramids, parasols, cubes, vases, fans and other forms, just so does the socialist writer whimsically shape human beings into groups, series, centers, sub-centers, honeycombs, labor corps and other variations. And just as the gardener needs axes, pruning hooks, saws, and shears to shape his trees, just so does the socialist writer need the force that he can find only in law to shape human beings.
I don’t know about you, but handing nearly unlimited power to a relatively small group of people who, by-and-large, think they know better than me how to live my life, and who actually think they possess the knowledge, wisdom and skill to direct the lives and activities of more than 300 million people, makes me a little uneasy. Because people who believe they can direct my actions will eventually conclude that they should direct my actions. And when they come to believe that they should direct my actions, they eventually WILL direct my actions. By that time, the arrogant certainty of their superiority and right to rule will lead them to justify the use of coercion and violence to impose their will.
For my own good of course.
As C.S. Lewis observed, a twisted and dangerous psychology indeed.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.
Will you allow any man or woman to treat you as an imbecile, an infant or a domestic animal? Or will you join with us and work toward decentralization, stripping nearly unlimited power from those who consider themselves out betters?
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