[I’ve been working like crazy on several projects outside of E3 and PJTV, and had so many plates spinning on sticks that I’ve felt like that giant plaster statue of the mammoth trying to crawl out of the La Brea tar pits. Needless to say, most of my energies have been spent on Afterburners. I have to write a serious essay a week, shoot, edit and air it… and to that extent I’ve utterly neglected Eject! Eject! Eject! Even the personal interaction I used to have in the comments has moved to my Facebook page, so things have been pretty lonely here while I was trying to figure out a long-term plan.
Well, from now on, a few things are going to change that should improve the level of service around here. First, I’m going to post the Afterburner essays here at E3, in text form, as soon as or perhaps even before they hit the air on PJTV. I’ve been so busy making them as TV segments that I have neglected to post them as written essays, and they hold up very well in that regard, I must say. So there will current Afterburners, some of the backlog of unpublished old Afterburners, and a continuation of re-posting the Silent America essays, which did not survive the move from the old site very well.
I hope to embed the YouTube version of the Afterburners as soon as they become available, too. Also, I plan to provide a few paragraphs several times a week on a story that catches my attention. These, I believe, are called “blog posts” and apparently can be less than 17 pages long! I will give this radical new idea a try as well.
Look for more action here — a lot more — starting now. And to get continuous updates on everything I write or shoot, you can’t beat my Facebook page (link above) or follow me on Twitter @Bill Whittle]
If you asked the average American on the street what kind of government we have, they’d likely as not say we live in a democracy. A democracy is – by definition – where the people rule.
But we don’t live in a democracy. You don’t get to determine when or if our country goes to war. You don’t get to decide whether we drill for oil in Alaska. You don’t even get to decide how much of your own money is taken away from you – by force, if need be.
Unless, of course, you are one of 535 special Americans. Those people live in a democracy. The rest of us live in a Republic. This is an important thing to fully grasp – not just academically, but deep in your marrow. You need to understand this in your very bones.
308 million American lives are determined by 435 members of the House of Representatives. Now the real number varies by district, of course, but on average, that means that every member of the House speaks for about 708 hundred thousand Americans. Imagine seven Super Bowls filled to the brim, arranged in a circle, all emptying out into one massive parking lot. Imagine every singe man, woman and child from seven Super Bowls spilling out into one giant field… and there, on a small soap box, sits one man or woman who determines whether or not they go to war, how much they will be taxed, whether or not they will be able to see the doctor of their choosing, and thousands of other little tendrils of control over their very lives. That’s the House.
For the Senate, imagine every single person in your entire state! – in California that’s about fifty Superbowl stadiums – and all of them beholden to two – two! — men or women.
That’s a Republic. And despite the mind-numbing terror of it, it’s actually not a bad way to go. But why would so many free citizens be willing to put their lives and their fortunes into the hands of so few people?
Well, we would do it if we believed that the person in question was one of us. We do it because we believe that the person we send to Washington represents not every little detail but at least the core of our values and desires, our needs and our hopes. We do it because the person – in theory, now – has led a life at least somewhat like our own: known some hardship, and some success; tried to start a business or at least worked in one, as the huge vast majority of us do. They need to know who we are so that they can speak for us.
That is the one crucial element that makes a republic work. I may be Constitutionally entitled to have a defense attorney if I am accused of a crime, but if that person sleeps through my trial his physical presence is irrelevant since I am not being represented. And that disconnect between having a representative and actually being represented is what drove the election of Scott Brown.
At its core, the people of America’s bluest state found in the red candidate with the truck was in every way more like most of them than the Democrat with the pedigree and the endorsement of the state royalty.
On the eve of First Bull Run, in the heady days before the first big battle when everyone – North and South – though the Civil War was to be a ninety-day affair, President Lincoln looked out from his window in the White House at the fresh-faced men marching off to Manassas Junction.
“There are many single regiments,” wrote Lincoln “whose members, one or another, possess full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known to the world, and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected a President, a Cabinet, a Congress and perhaps a Court, abundantly competent to administer the government itself. Nor do I say this is not true also in the Army of our late friends, now adversaries in this contest.”
This sentiment of Lincoln’s reflects more than just a love of the American people, professed, whether true or not, by all politicians. Lincoln did not only love the American people. Lincoln – as did Reagan and a few others – respected and admired the common American citizen. Reagan, and Lincoln, held themselves to be servants of these free and industrious people, and did not fancy themselves their nannies or their nursemaids and certainly not their betters. Contrast that attitude with the Imperial sense of noble obligation we see in this Congress and this President, at their smug, condescending and self-appointed role as the saviors of we poor, uneducated little people, who without their guidance can not dress or feed or employ ourselves.
So which view – elitist or populist — is correct? Well, what does history show? The attitude of Jefferson, and Lincoln, and Reagan, is that the collective genius of hundreds of millions of free people over two and a half centuries – we call this vast subterranean cavern of wisdom and experience “common sense” – is baked into our society and its traditions. That belief in the practicality, energy and ingenuity of the common man took a small group of rugged, proud and hard-working individuals and turned them into the most powerful, innovative, influential and decent nation in the history of the world, while all around us, for two and a half centuries, other nations have allowed pedigreed elites of one stripe or another to compete against us and be utterly left in the dust – every one of them.
All of the government intrusions into the free market that brought us the housing collapse were the result of isolated and imperial elitists who had no experience whatsoever in the real world of business, but were rather academics and lawyers who had a transparently untenable theory and the political power to enforce it. All of the exotic financial instruments to arise from this government intrusion – things like collateralized debt obligations – were the result of elitist Harvard MBA’s and not the failures of small, regional, common-sense banks that had the collective wisdom not to make loans to people who could not pay them back.
The most destructive and – by the way – power mad president of the last century, Woodrow Wilson, was an academic – in fact, he was the President of Princeton University. And the man who appears to be planted firmly in his footsteps with his plan to replace rule by the people with rule by Czars and Professors and Lawyers and other elitists, Barack Obama, is also an academic, having been a Professor at Columbia. On the other hand, Ronald Reagan – who after fifty years of appeasement at the behest of the best and the brightest decided to and then did defeat the greatest threat to freedom the world has ever seen – well, he went to virtually unknown Eureka college. Barack Obama’s self-professed idol, Abraham Lincoln, had about 18 months of formal schooling in his entire life. The greatest communicator of American values did not finish high school.
Or look at the Founders; men we revere for having set this nation on its course to unprecedented prosperity and freedom: Sam Adams was a brewer. Paul Revere was a silversmith, a man who made things with his hands. Franklin was a printer, his fingers black with ink. Washington and Jefferson were planters… farmers, basically. Thomas Paine, whose brilliant prose turned the tide of public opinion in favor of the American Revolution, had no schooling whatsoever. He became an apprentice corset maker at age 13.
There is a plank in the eye of the elitist. I know, I used to be one of them. Looking back on those days, I marvel at how certain I was about things I knew nothing about. I wince – I cringe – when I recall how dismissive I was of common people, the people you see at Wal-mart, say. Like so many of the elitists I see today, I wore a sense of intellectual superiority to make up for a profound sense of loneliness, failure, insecurity and lack of life experience.
It’s okay. I got over it. I got over it by listening to the wisdom and the goodness and the strength of self-identified “common people,” and discovered that not oneof them did not have some uncommon trait or understanding. I realize now, as I did not then, that every single person I meet knows more about hundreds if not thousands of things than I do. So I changed. I became a Daywalker. Now my mission is to go out and turn other elitist vampires and send them back toward the light.
Which brings us back to Scott Brown. He joked about his daughters being single. He joked about his truck. He said our money is better spent killing terrorists than defending them in court to cheers and thunderous applause and chants of U-S-A! U-S-A! … and this happened not in Texas but in Massachusetts! He is in touch with the common sense certainty that we are at war and not with the Ivory towered position of the President who thinks that we are not.
And parenthetically, how it galls these elitist so-called progressives that these two people who they so despise are so sexy and attractive and confident and at home in their own skins, as I have come to be once I realized that there is nothing particularly special about me other than my membership in the most awesome extended family this species has produced. Just an American citizen.
So, Scott – can I call you Scott? Doesn’t seem like you’re kind of guy who insists on being called Senator after all the hard work you put in getting there… Scott, I hear your truck has 200,000 miles on it. You’ve worked hard. If you want to buy a new truck to celebrate your win, I say go for it.
But when the day comes – and if you stay in Washington long enough then the day will come – when you decide that rather than driving yourself somewhere in your truck a man of your position deserves a chauffeured limo ride or an excursion in a private jet – then Scott, you won’t be Scott anymore. You’ll be Senator Brown. And when that day comes, Senator, you won’t be one of us anymore. You’ll be one of them. When that day comes, Senator, we’ll thank you for your service, because then it will be time to come home.