Why Does Anyone Run for Office?

Because I said so Because I said so

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.