Sand in the Gears

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All Over But the Crying

November 8th, 2006 Posted in Curmudgeonry

It appears that Republican control of the Senate now turns on Conrad Burns in Montana, and George Allen in Virginia. I have an image of a desperate Snow White, perhaps not so snowy white any more, pinning her hopes for rescue on Sleepy and Dopey.

In the House, meanwhile, a host of feckless rulers was turned out, replaced by a host of fresh-faced busybodies, most of whom show no sign of ruling with more wisdom or principle than their vanquished foes. It brings to mind an observation by H.L. Mencken:

“Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.”

To those convinced that the country has now taken a turn for the worse, Mencken offers grim consolation:

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

One of my closest friends recently sent me an impassioned email, reminding me that we are at war, and that while the Republicans have failed in many respects, they are a darn sight better than the Democrats when it comes to national security and long-term prosperity. I understand this reasoning, and I respect it. I trust that the majority of my readers, both left and right, vote out of a conscientious desire to do what is best for our country.

I used to feel that way as well, but something’s changed, for me. I am convinced that when we cast our vote for someone, we are giving sanction to his acts. I am no saint. I don’t expect to be represented by saints. But I think it is reasonable to expect that our rulers act on principle. This means doing, at times, what is unpopular with the press, the pundits, and quite often, citizens. It is the fundamental dividing line between a Ronald Reagan and a William Clinton, an Abraham Lincoln and a Herbert Hoover. Would a Congress full of people committed to the stated principles of the Republican Party have presided over a two hundred percent increase in pork barrel projects, a near tripling of earmarks, and a fifty percent increase in the size of the federal government? In what sense are these people better than their opponents? Their tenuous consent to a protracted, hubristic exercise in nation-building?

To be sure, there are people with principle in Congress. I don’t agree with Joe Lieberman or Jeff Flake on everything, but I admire the fact that they don’t let opinion polls determine their actions. How many other elected officials can say the same thing?

I don’t expect the new crop of meddlers to do anything other than undermine prosperity and hamstring the West in its conflict with Islamofascists. In doing so, however, they will act according to their natures, and their principles, and their promises. I would rather we be bloodied by the ignorant than slowly strangled by hypocrites. There’s something nobler in the former, I think.

I believe America is an exceptional country, not yet succumbed to European nihilism. The party that proclaims liberty needs time in the wilderness, to reflect on why, whenever its members attain office, they set about corrupting ourselves and telling people what they think they want to hear. I still believe that people who are willing to speak unpleasant truths in love, while consistently acting on principle, can win office. The question is: where are they? Perhaps the Republicans need a few years to figure that out.

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