Since President Obama’s inauguration, Americans have been subjected to an unprecedented display of political arrogance. The monetary actions of the president and Democrats in both houses are completely untethered from the serious spending concerns of voters of all stripes. Some actions exhibit such a level of self-interest that they are in blatant disregard of the fact that such accountability even exists at all. To believe otherwise is to accept that the majority of Americans would opt, of their own free choice, to take millions from their precious and dwindling resources and spend it on Nancy Pelosi’s little mice. Not likely. We have been shown, in no uncertain terms, that the votes cast last November don’t matter today because “we won.” Unfortunately, the “we” isn’t the voter; it is the politically arrogant officeholders setting the agenda as they see fit.
Political arrogance is far more dangerous than social arrogance. In civil society arrogance is the simple disdain for others due to class, wealth, education, or breeding. It is a trait that America, being egalitarian from its founding, strongly rejects. Political arrogance, however, is a much more virulent strain of the disease because it transforms a politician from a person having an appreciation of being first elected to a position of power into one who believes power naturally comes to him or her because they are uniquely worthy of it. To those who see themselves in this way, the vote of the people does not indicate a preference for a type of governance; nor is it an expression of the general will on specific issues. Rather, electoral victory is an affirmation of their special status as the worthy leaders of the populace at large and an implied acceptance by the voters to be led in whatever direction they deem fit. To the arrogant politician the voter wants me, not someone to represent them and their views. Think Pelosi, Reid, Rangel, Kerry, Dodd, Durbin, etc.
The sense of entitlement to power grows in direct proportion to time in office. Since the vast majority of officeholders, particularly in Washington but also in the states, are well entrenched and have all the benefits of incumbency to rely on, even the pretense of representative politics is often dropped. A particularly clear example is the House action on the stimulus bill. The House went from a unanimous vote to give forty-eight hours for public examination prior to a vote, to a vote within hours of printing a day later without even the pretense of an explanation of their deception. As if to confirm their untouchability, several members openly admitted, without a trace of shame, that they had not even seen the largest spending bill in American history before they voted. Some went so far as criticizing voters for believing they had a right to see the work of the esteemed members of Congress before they voted. How dare we question them! Their loyalty, it is all too apparent, is to the Democratic Party, the primary benefactors who control it, and to ideology. Country and voters be damned in an America flirting with autocracy.
The growing power of government and the arrogance of so many in it pose grave risk to us all. Arrogant people do whatever they want, unconstrained by the caution that ordinary people would tend toward when dealing with matters of overwhelming importance. Thus they stand before the cameras for all of us to see, radiating such obvious self-satisfaction after rushing through trillions in debt to crush generations to come, despite knowing full well they haven’t a clue what is actually changed by their actions. At their most dangerous, they sit in full-throated judgment of people, events, and matters in which they have precious little experience or knowledge, then pass with great certitude sweeping laws, regulations, and restrictions with no apparent concern for their own limitations to act wisely. The average person would both know better than to take risks so blindly and have the sense to go slow and rely on better qualified judgment.
In reality, the only generally held expertise in Congress or the White House is politics — the gaining and using of power through the political process. This requires skills in public speaking, image building, press manipulation, and fundraising, among other things. The important matters of the country, however — the economic, social, and environmental issues so pressing in America today — require experience and knowledge of complicated and technical areas they as a group have no experience in. Experience in military tactics, leadership, logistics, and battlefield strategy: low. Experience in or exposure to day-to-day business management: none. Medical experience or education: none. Health care services, hospital administration, drug development, and approval experience: none. Experience or training in energy production and refining: none. Engineering education or experience, as in engine mechanics, fuel usage, electrical generation and transmission, and structural design: none. Knowledge, education, or direct experience in ecology, conservation, animal biology, ecosystem dynamics, oceanography, or atmospherics: none. Experience in farming, crop determination, animal husbandry, dairy or meat production, animal health, and hormone usage: none. Hands-on experience in manufacturing management, union negotiations, labor contract detail, OSHA laws and regulation, and safety issues at the factory level: none. Finance, banking, international trade, and currencies, none. Driving a truck: none.
Collectively, the American populace possesses great expertise in all these areas and is increasingly disapproving of the government’s interventions. They see a need for prudence and extreme caution in deciding complex and potentially dangerous issues. Yet Congress commits trillions in a headlong rush despite knowing the waste and corruption the spending contains. Without a thorough examination and debate. And without any apparent comprehensive plan. That is either the most arrogant or the most foolish thing the American government has ever done — and potentially the most damaging. The guiding power that comes from abiding by the vote as an expression of the collective intent of the people is disappearing, however, and with it goes the combined knowledge and wisdom of the one hundred twenty-five million people who cast those votes.
Without this guidance, even the extreme indebtedness of the country is not enough to overcome the mentality that is hurling billions at nearly every perceived need in America today. The Democrats, being the party in control, act without apparent constraint from future risks and advance their ideology without regard for its failed past. In an arrogant display of power, commitments made to their own people during the election process are given no more regard than those of the political opposition after the election. Insiders are promoted to high positions despite histories of violations for which they would have been eliminated from consideration at almost any time prior. There are seemingly no standards other than being what the leadership wants and no limits to the money being spent. In open defiance of their constituents, the president and a significant number in Congress openly seek to stifle any dissent and bury opposing voices from the right.
This is not what people voted for, and they are becoming afraid and angry at where it is all heading. “We won” clearly means a small group of Democratic leaders, not those that voted for them. Those leaders, by their words, actions, and stated plans for the future, make clear to all, regardless of which end of the spectrum they occupy, that it is their vision that will be advanced. The act of voting itself has been degraded not only because incumbents are rarely defeated, but more because arrogant people in government act with impunity even when the will of the majority is both clear and overwhelming in its disapproval. There is simply no effective way to stop them at this time.
It has been an article of faith for generations that the vote is the ultimate determinant of political power in this country. Through the ballot, the American people express their will and determine which direction the country ultimately takes. Clearly, that is less the case now than at any time in memory. What will happen if the public loses faith in the power of the vote because it is openly ignored? Will they find another way to control their government and how will that happen? Right now this is not at all clear, but there is a sense we are going to find out. Already calls for tea parties find many willing and motivated ears. Small, yes; but the biggest storms start with a small shift in the wind.
What form would a loss of faith in our ability to control the national leaders take once the infamous tipping point is reached? If a state capable of being self-sufficient, say Alaska, Wyoming, Texas, or the Dakotas, decided to reject all federal involvement and go it alone? Would there be outrage? Or cheering? Maybe the pollsters could find out how many would support such an action or at least believe it to be justified. I suspect the results would, and should, scare us all.