Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How Much Hope For Change Is There Now?

Just so you understand the question, I will let you in on the fact that I actually wrote this in the days leading up to the election, not after its results were published. You see, regardless of whether the Republicans gain control of one House of Congress or both, of whether the Democrats retain control of the Senate and the White House, and if Libertarians or traditional two party candidates are swept in on the tide of the Tea Party movement; I believe that little will change in Washington.
  • Will the EPA be barred from regulating the emission of carbon byproducts by everything from power plants and automobiles to animals?
  • Will the National Education Association be prohibited from pushing national education standards on local school districts?
  • Will the IRS be prohibited from imposing penalties and interest rates that if perpetrated by a private sector business would be considered illegal and usury?
  • Will Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) continue to be allowed to pick and choose which laws on the books that it will enforce?
  • Will health care reform (which does not reform health care, only health care insurance) itself be reformed?
  • Will the government turn off the printing presses (even briefly) cranking out money to stave off the inflation that has to come if they don't?
  • Will financial reform, which has done little to control the abuses of Wall Street firms creating our next generation of Cabinet secretaries and does nothing to correct the abuses of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; but has provided banks with opportunities to impose new fees and charges, be allowed to stand as is?
  • Will Congress stop passing laws more complex than the design of a nuclear weapon and with more pages than the Bible?
  • Will any Congress pass legislation to determine the Constitutional authority for a law before voting on it?
  • Will members of Congress (new or incumbent) even read the Constitution that they swear to protect and defend?
You see, though we live in a representative republic (not a democracy as so many believe), in fact most of the voters in this country choose not to pick those who will represent them. Even if we use the numbers of presidential election years, the percentage of eligible voters exercising their voting rights rarely rises above 35%. Even if a candidate were to gain 60% of those votes, they would only be elected by some 21% of eligible voters, hardly a mandate to rule.

Other countries using the democratic voting process have in the past mandated that the entire population vote (Australia fines those who fail to), but such a philosophy tells us that the only way to protect our freedom through government is to take away the freedom of whether to choose its members or not. Totalitarian governments solve this problem much more simply by making sure that the selection of candidates is limited to those the government has already chosen and making the vote is a foregone conclusion. 

As some of the above questions point to however, regardless of the party in power, the bureaucracy that actually rules remains the same. Unelected bureaucratic moles responsible to no voter and given little oversight by our elected officials, will still be making and enforcing rules that all will be told to follow regardless of the 'laws' that are passed. If you doubt me, ask yourself what you have come into contact with on the day that you read this that is not regulated by our government. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the clothes we wear all fall under federal guidelines. Everything from the cars we drive and the roads we drive on, to the people we get to vote on are controlled and regulated. 

Tell me that government does not control all, prayer for example, and I will ask you to try and pray publicly in a government building and discover the result. Tell me that capitalism still provides us a free-market economy, and I will ask you what part of the economy is not regulated or mandated by a faceless government agency. 

Even elections that we use as a shining example of our freedom are regulated. In many states only members of the two parties can be on the ballot without special petition initiatives; except through the difficult process of write-in candidacy. Primaries for those parties are held and regulated by the government (and paid for by the taxpayers); which mandates who gets what ballot and which candidates you get to vote for. And while some of the restrictions of campaign financing have been relaxed or removed, there are still a great many more in place to control how the game is played. 

I hate to appear any more cynical than I am (difficult, I know), but even the most naive of us who has done any study on this knows that the odds of the game are more than a little crooked and that the odds always favor the house winning. 

The good news however, is that we have managed to make it through yet another election cycle without violence breaking out in the streets. Intimidation is still only limited to subtle coercion, selective inattention where the truth is concerned, and that while freedom of speech politically is still a closely monitored 'right', the economy was aided by the vast sums of money spent in advertising and promoting candidates. (Could this be considered the real economic stimulus of 2010?) Regardless of what we end up with, we will all have gotten one thing; the illusion that the process works and the "will of the people" has been done. 

We also have a hope, that this time perhaps one or two good people will survive the process, will not be corrupted by the power that they are about to assume in Washington DC, and will at least attempt to make some change to the growing encroachment of government on the few remaining freedoms left to individuals in this country. How much change they will actually be able to make is yet to be seen.

1 comment:

Brian said...

You are very correct; until the bureaucracy is dealt with no change will come about. That goes for the statehouse as well. We'll see what Kasich and the new and improved ORP can pull off.