A post in which I detail a little amateur social experimentation.
A few days ago, I conducted a little social experiment. While looking for something I referenced in the past, I ran across something I did and documented about a decade ago. During a debate about the increasingly intrusive actions of government into our daily lives, I proposed to some progressive acquaintances these “what if” questions:
- What if a government official came to your house and told you that he was taking your car because it was newer than the cars that any of your neighbors had?
- What if a government official came into your house unannounced and turned your thermostat up to 82 degrees when it was 100 outside and told you that you were using more electricity than the poor guy on the other side of town that only had a window fan and then put a padlock on your thermostat so you couldn’t change it?
- What if you went to Kroger and there was a government official at each checkout who had your last year’s tax return and added 20% to your grocery bill because in their eyes, the income inequality in your neighborhood was too great?
- What if in the mail tomorrow, you received the bill of a person who shopped at Whole Foods or any other high end grocery store and the government demanded that you pay it because it wasn’t fair that that person could not shop at that store for free range chicken, 100% certified grass-fed beef, organically grown green beans and arugula for his salad?
- What if the government told you that your son or daughter could never date anyone but a person who was a member of a specific minority…but the minority person always had the right to reject your child, but you had to pay for every date the minority person had with anyone forever into the future?
When they were addressed at a personal, one-on-one level, I got a universally negative reaction to each one of those theoretical questions.
No way would they agree to any government doing this…this is America!
Then to compound their confusion, I then said that they had just objected to their own party’s (Democrat, of course) ideas on:
- Economic policy
- Energy policy
- Tax policy
- Social Policy
As a case study in how fast things change direction, I decided to ask those same questions of some acquaintances today. Given, it was a different, younger set of people and in a different state, but I thought the answers revealing.
To a person, none could see any problem with those theoretical propositions, citing income inequality, health care is a right, Americans are racists, fossil fuels are killing the planet and the rich must pay their fair share as the basis for their answers.
I started thinking about James Madison and Federalist #51:
“But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
It occurs to me that contemporary progressives are simply incapable of governing themselves and therefore cannot understand the need for government to be controlled.
The gun “control” vs. crime debate is another example. The anti-gun left can’t see why they would ever need a gun in the blameless, excuse ridden, “nobody is really bad”, Utopia that they have created, so automatically, nobody should ever have a gun. This perspective leads to a process of simply ignoring crime rather than dealing with the reality that criminals exist. Criminal activity is just another way people express their “rights”.
I found the recent actions of the Democrats sending a video – to be screened at 300 black churches and starring the sitting Vice President – in support of Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat candidate for Virginia governor, an interesting display of this incapacity to self-govern. This is a blatant violation of the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the U.S. tax code passed in 1954 that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, including churches, from endorsing or opposing political candidates.
I must have missed the part in the Johnson Amendment where it says it doesn’t apply to Democrats in tight elections.
The Johnson Amendment is easily something that could fall into the realm of the mundane, a “so-what?” sort of violation – but people who crave power over others are more than happy to use mundane things as a lever to expand into other areas that are not so mundane. That’s how a government goes from providing public utilities to telling you how much water you can use to flush your toilet and what kind of light bulb you can buy to forcing you to stay home from your job, wear a mask or get a shot you do not want (or in many cases, do not need).
In a way, James Madison was warning us about how fast things can go to Hell in a handbasket if proper controls are not established, understood and followed.
But it isn’t just government. Every entity, every group or organization, eventually moves from its mission to the motives, enrichment, and sustenance of its leadership. The more the concentration of leadership continues, the greater the probability of corruption becomes.
Putting rules in place is meaningless without the will to enforce them – and to enforce them equally, no matter who it advantages or disadvantages.
Democrats have proven themselves incapable of following even their own rules. Rational people would question their loyalty to a political party that cannot be trusted.
But they don’t – and that is bad news for all Americans.