…then all bear close watching when given authority. I say this because I see in some Trump supporters the same “man-on-a-white-horse” aspirations as Obama’s believers in the “Lightbringer” showed eight years ago.
That’s not to say there isn’t reason for optimism. There have been some interesting aspects to this transition period, and it’s entirely possible Trump may meet or exceed some of the expectations people have for him to disrupt what has clearly become a government run by globalists with little concern for their own constituents.
But to be successful in the change many Americans voted for, they must make sure we don’t trade the cult of Obama for the cult of Trump. In some respects, they are mirror images of each other. Both have serious character flaws. Both promised a lot of things in their campaigns. Obama delivered on the “transformation” he promised, but many people now realize the changes were not in a positive direction. We’ve yet to see how successful Trump will be in undoing his predecessor’s damage.
The bottom line, however, is this: a healthy republic does not run on the whims of any single person. It requires the constant engagement of the citizenry… which is why it’s so hard to maintain. As the quip goes: “most people don’t really want to be free… they just hope for a good master who takes care of them.”
These thoughts were already running through my head when I read this article:
The idea that a large, complex society enjoying English liberty could long endure without the guiding hand of a priest-king was, in 1776, radical. A few decades later, it became ordinary — Americans could not imagine living any other way. …
As American society grows less literate and the state of its moral education declines, the American people grow less able to engage their government as intellectually and morally prepared citizens. We are in the process — late in the process, I’m afraid — of reverting from citizens to subjects. Subjects are led by their emotions, mainly terror and greed…
For more than two centuries, we Americans have been working to make government subject to us rather than the other way around, to make it our instrument rather than our master. But that requires a republican culture, which is necessarily a culture of responsibility. Citizenship, which means a great deal more than showing up at the polls every two years to pull a lever for Team R or Team D, is exhausting. On the other hand, monarchy is amusing, a splendid spectacle and a wonderful form of public theater.
But the price of admission is submission.
We’ll know we’re succeeding in returning to the Founders’ vision of a limited federal government when it doesn’t matter as much who occupies the White House or Congress. For now, though, the Executive has become quite monarchical (“I have a pen and a phone” sounds a lot like something George III would have said, had he access to either). Congress, meanwhile, dutifully plays the roles of courtiers, many of whom have aspirations of eventually occupying the Cherry Blossom Throne themselves (HT: Vox).
I sincerely hope our people didn’t go through two centuries of hard work fighting for, debating, pushing, shoving and reforming representative government just so it could devolve back into an authoritarian regime. Expect and hope for improvement under Trump, yes. But let’s also redevelop that culture of responsibility that recognizes “the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
That goes no matter whether Team Elephant or Team Donkey is at the levers of power. Remember that, in the end, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The more powerful Uncle Sam has grown, the more corrupt his institutions.