So goes the question on everybody’s lips whenever a candidate willingly subjects him- or -herself to the media’s proctological examination (more rigorous by far for conservatives and Republicans), the gleeful reportage of old rumors and innuendos, the financial Lower GI, and the ritual humiliation of the office-seeker, his or her spouse and their children, if any. Surely, the thinking goes, no one in his right mind would go through all this just for a job as a “public servant.”
Well, who said anything about “right mind”? I’ve come to the realization that the very question could only be asked by someone whose sanity is not in doubt, someone possessed of a shame gene, someone with a social conscience and, very likely, a day job. Someone, in other words, who doesn’t really want to be a contemporary American politician.
We still maintain a romantic notion of the citizen-legislator, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the honest guy who believes that politics is not a complete mug’s game, and who harbors the notion of doing good. But if that fellow ever existed — and frankly I’m not sure he or she ever really did — then his day is long gone. What we have now are not citizen-legislators but citizen-dictators who can’t wait to get their hands on the levers of the regulatory state and give it to their fellow Americans, but good.
The fact is, government today no longer exists to serve the people, but to regulate them. Regulation is everything, the name of the game — by executive order when possible, by armies of unelected, unfireable, faceless mole-people appartchiks otherwise. The mushrooming of federal agencies in our lifetimes — say, from the Johnson and Nixon administrations on — has been phenomenal, all of it effected in the name of “doing something” about this or that perceived problem. The problems naturally remain (poverty for sure, although chastity and obedience have been summarily dealt with), but the bureaucracy continues to lurch around, flailing its arms and smashing every good and decent thing it encounters in its efforts to control the lives of subjects who were once free citizens.
It was probably inevitable. With even the Constitution itself under attack these days — sure, it’s been going on since President Wilson (see what happens when the GOP splits the vote?), but the creepy neo-Marxists are out and proud these days — it’s small wonder that the Left is open in its contempt for American institutions. We’re witnessing juvenile, Frankfurt School “critical theory” in action, the deranged brainchild of a bunch of folks with plenty of intellect and not an ounce of common sense, who never did understand how their theories contributed to the monstrous evil they eventually had to flee. Secure in their sinecures at Columbia University, they immediately began the process of undermining civilization all over again, with what unhappy Alinskyite results we see all around us.
But hey, scratch a bleeding heart and score a fascist. For the absolutist do-gooders of the world, partial but voluntary compliance is never enough; everyone and everything must bow to their Wille und Weltanschauung in the creation of an imaginary world that only a German could conceive and then pretend to love: what ought to be is what must be — by any means necessary. It is, as they say, a moral imperative, demanded by the fierce urgency of change and fundamental transformation.
Now, it must be noted that Barack Obama is something of an exception to the scrutiny rule. We still know next to nothing about whole swaths of his life, including the trip to Pakistan, the transfer from Occidental to Columbia, the “missing year” there, etc. The annointing media, of course, had no interest in telling us a thing about the man that wasn’t contained in his two books about himself. But whatever you think of the president, he perfectly exemplifies and embodies the modern Left’s drive to power; after hiding his light under a bushel during his years in the Illinois state legislature, “Senator Present” could barely contain his ambition once he arrived in Washington, and didn’t even bother to finish out his first term before seizing the reins of power in Washington. Energy in the executive, as Hamilton said, might be admirable, but naked ambition is not.
And so we move inexorably forward into statism, a nation not of laws but of regulators, men and women who order us around because they can. Long lost is the original meaning of the word “regulate,” as used in the Constitution. Then it meant to make regular, to smooth out, to remove obstacles to the free flow of goods and services — and by extension of ideas. Today, “to regulate” has taken on the force of coercion, government by edict and fiat — not just from some Caligula at the top, but by an Orwellian hell filled with busybody functionaries, people unemployable in the real world but by the grace of OSHA and the EPA and countless other agencies empowered with life and death decisions over the population they ostensibly “serve.”
And so black is white, up is down, in is out; in a perfect execution of “critical theory,” everything that was once good and honored and respected and true is now its exact opposite, and vice versa. Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven says Satan in Paradise Lost. He’d feel right at home in modern America, and he’d have plenty of followers, too. Maybe he already does.