Consider the 2016 field of presidential candidates, the prominent ones and those who dropped out. We see one narcissist, two socialists and a few religious types who feel compelled to consult God before making decisions. Who then takes credit or blame for the results has not been noted.
Compare that group with the intelligence, honor and enlightenment of the men who founded this country: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Paine and a few others. Now ask yourself the question, “What are we doing wrong?”
Since Mr. Trump does not appear to like anybody except himself, it is difficult to determine what policy he favors other than his own. But the incoherence of his campaign has failed to inspire confidence that he has any sensible policy. Whether or not he can effectively address the problems that he promises to solve remains to be seen if elected.
His campaign resonates with widespread fears that Islamic terrorism and immigration will threaten our way of life. Whether or not these fears are rational or whether or not Mr. Trump knows what he is talking about are questions beyond the scope of this commentary. His promise to do something about those fears while other candidates have dismissed them accounts for at least some of his appeal. Another part can be attributed to his disdain to talk like a politician, a profession suffering increasing contempt throughout the world.
Another possible contributing factor to his rise might be the disgust that many voters, alarmed by the relentless expansion of government, feel toward the do-nothing rhetoric of the Republican Party. During their times in office where do we see any action commensurate with the noise that brought them into power? Certainly not fiscal probity, shrinking the government, reversing “liberal” programs or any other policies that they like to cry about. All they do is slow down the game, if that much, and concede moral superiority to the liberals that they profess to detest.
Republican conservatives like to get all stirred up over what they call tax and spend liberals, but have not given us a balanced federal budget since 1969 (a slight surplus) during the Nixon administration. The only balanced budgets (actually surpluses) in recent memory occurred in the four years from 1998 through 2001 during President Clinton’s administration. The largest deficit in history, $1.4 trillion in fiscal year 2009, President Obama inherited from President Bush’s budget. In view of these numbers, other than religion it is not all that clear what conservatives are trying to conserve.
If Mrs. Clinton wins, we can expect more rides on the political teeter-totter, a continuation of Mr. Obama’s jerk to the left and a yet greater girth of the government. She has noted Mr. Trump’s lack of political experience in contrast to hers as if that were something to brag about. True enough, but knowledge of current political issues brings no advantages to the rest of us if the candidate in question proposes to address those issues with harmful ideas such as those that she advocates.
Considering the contempt so often expressed by the general public for politicians, why would any candidate brag about political experience in an election campaign? Why would we want to vote for someone who has done little else of note in life except hold political office? Is what politicians do all that beneficial that we need experienced ones? Experienced in exactly what?
Bernie Sanders’ bid for the presidency would be laughable if not for his all too numerous young cheerleaders. He, Francois Holland of France, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Alexis Tsipras of Greece, the Castro brothers of Cuba, and Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela all recite from the same yellowed script and sing – make that past tense for Chavez – from the same hymnal used by innumerable others who have long since left the stage. Where do we see any great benefits enjoyed by the people of those countries who elected the named individuals based on campaign promises little if any different from Mr. Sanders’ noises?
The impending election, the most important in the world, is nothing short of tragic. I wish I could place a few questions before each candidate or political office holder:
Has it ever crossed your mind, however briefly, that your view of reality, your belief system, your outlook on life or whatever you call your personal philosophy, is instead of a solution to the social problems that you propose to address, a contributor to them? For example, do you really believe that encouraging millions of people to depend on the government for their daily needs will instill the sense of self efficacy and pride of accomplishment that both tend to banish hopelessness and enmity bent on destruction?
Do people who prefer to control their own lives, reap all rewards for their successes and accept responsibility for their mistakes and misfortunes really need you? True, not everyone can be that self sufficient, but shouldn’t that be the goal toward which we move instead of fostering universal dependency? What is your real motive in promoting the current trend?
Has the possibility ever occurred to you, however briefly, that your motives for seeking and holding public office have little or nothing to do with compassion for the downtrodden or promoting the general health and happiness of our nation?
If it were possible to place all the good that you have brought to this country during your political career on the tray of a balance scale, and all the costs you have brought us on the opposing tray, which way do you think the scale would tip? If I were to ask that same question to your constituents, how do you think they would answer? If I were to pose the first question to all politicians and the second to the general population, how would you picture the result?
Why do we need a full time legislature with no purpose other than to endlessly enact laws? Do free people really need all those laws? Do not many if most laws merely attempt to compensate for the ill effects of previous laws?
At some time perhaps a century or so from now, if the world does not sink into a dystopia, people reflecting on our time will ask themselves an obvious question: How did those people (meaning us) imagine that they could promote a prosperous, progressive and happy world by encouraging dependence on the government for every essential element of existence?
As much as human tragedies evoke our sorrow and compassion, politicizing them stifles personal incentives to correct or compensate while at the same time advances the menace of authority that has bedeviled mankind for uncountable generations.
Governments throughout history have been both blessing and curse with a great preponderance of the latter. I have to wonder if it is possible to write a constitution that so circumscribes government that it precludes the abuses that have proven so endemic to it.