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Losing the Consent of the Governed

The American people don't trust their leaders - any of them.

By Petrarch  |  July 19, 2011

As our federal government roars madly towards a horrific collision with the brick wall of the fabled Debt Ceiling, everyone that's anyone is unanimous in agreement that bouncing off the ceiling would be a Really Bad Idea.  Mr. Obama and Speaker Boehner might not agree on anything else, but they both say that defaulting on America's financial obligations must be avoided at almost any cost.  All of Wall Street, the major media, and anyone with access to a microphone feels the same.

Even the most strident Tea Party congresspeople want nothing to do with a national default.  Michelle Bachmann doesn't think we need to raise the debt ceiling, but she doesn't expect default: she states that we should pay our debts first from immediate tax revenues, then prioritize what's left.  Mathematically, she's right, but like everyone else, she views the idea of default as horrifying.  For that matter, so do we.

Which must make us members of the Ruling Elite, because you know who's hair is not at all on fire about default?  The American people's:

...A large majority worried about the potential consequences regardless of whether Congress votes to allow the national debt to keep increasing.

But when pressed to name their biggest concern, nearly half of respondents say they are alarmed by the prospect that the debt could grow beyond its current limit of $14.3 trillion, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll. Only 35 percent say they are more worried about the risk of default and economic destabilization if Congress does not raise the debt limit[emphasis added]

Put it another way: two-thirds of Americans are OK with a default if that's the price of, finally, getting the government to stop wasting our money.  All the warnings from everyone who's Great and Good on all sides are going in one ear and out the other.

America doesn't agree with what our leaders are saying and doesn't care about their predictions of calamity.  They're refusing to follow the pronouncements of their elected representatives.  Our government has lost the consent of the governed.

A Natural Aristocracy?

That's strange, because under normal circumstances, Americans believe that those On High got there by merit.  Americans traditionally believe that our leaders really are smarter or work harder or both, with liberal dollops of luck thrown in.  In some sense, they deserve to be where they are and a certain amount of deference is due.

America is the most egalitarian society in all of history, but only in principle: all are to be equal before the law and to enjoy equal liberties.  Except for modern liberals, no Americans have ever believed that people are enforceably equal in practice, Communist-style.  Our Founders believed in an early version of equal opportunity, but only so the very best and most qualified could rise to the top as they saw themselves as having done:

I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents... I think the best remedy is exactly provided by all our constitutions, to leave the citizens the free election and separation of the aristoi from the pseudo-aristoi, of the wheat from the chaff. In some instances, wealth may corrupt, and birth blind them; but not in sufficient degree to endanger the society.

 - Thomas Jefferson to John Adams

Without exception, every single professing Democrat has a bone to pick with the founder of their party: we constantly hear from the Left that wealth has in fact corrupted and endangered society and that Congress is owned by corporations and The Rich.  Conservatives disagree as to the source but agree as to the effect: we feel that politicians have been corrupted by modern government's ability to limitlessly tax the national wealth and redistribute it to whomever offers the pols the most.  We also deplore the government's tendency to pass regulations which create so many opportunities for bribes and for lobbyists.

Either way, our society is clearly endangered.  Those at the helm don't represent America's interests; the American public certainly believe that nobody's minding the store.

Bad and Worse Alternatives

There are only three possible ways that we've reached the point where our leaders - democratically elected to a person, let us remind you - have so lost the faith of the people as for their unanimous warnings to be completely ignored.  None of these explanations are pleasant, but some are worse than others.

The simplest explanation is that, as Jefferson warned, we've failed to discriminate the true mental aristocracy from poseurs.  This is patently obvious: most current Congresscritters are nobody's idea of a bright bulb.  They're smart enough to get elected, but not smart enough to manage well once they're in power.  Barack Obama was portrayed as a super genius, but he doesn't seem to have accomplished anything useful.  As for the oft-elected Joe Biden, well, the less said about him the better.

Thanks to our founders, We the People have regular opportunities to swap out these thieving losers, but we don't.  Joe Biden's been taking the train to Washington so long that he started doing it when the train was the only way to get there.  Defeated incumbents, no matter how corrupt or moronic, are sufficiently rare as to be noteworthy.  Something else must be at work.

The second possibility is that we really are as dumb as they think we are, that they really are the best, and we should just siddown and shuddup.  By definition this can't be logically proven, so the elites constantly proclaim that the mere fact that you disagree with the Ruling Elites is proof that you're too stupid to be listened to.  Looking at the state of our nation's governance and finances, however, we can say with a good deal of confidence that if this is the best of all possible ruling classes, we'd hate to see the worst.

There is another alternative - a deeply, profoundly frightening one, but which the massive split between general public opinion and the actions of our ruling elites tends to support:

Both in Europe and in America, the elites do know what they're doing, and are doing a fine job of it.  The trouble is that they are doing what benefits them, regardless of the destruction of us lesser human beings further down the pyramid.

In other words, they've come to view themselves as aristocrats of the old school: born to rule and to do as they please, to hell with everybody else.

The Peasants Are Revolting

There's abundant reason to think this is the case.  What sort of a government intentionally subjects random citizens to public sexual molestation?  One that revels in its unchecked power, that's what.

What sort of government forces gun dealers to sell guns to known criminals, who then kill both innocent civilians and law enforcement officers of several countries - and then the government uses those illegal sales they required as a reason to shut down the salesmen who were forced to make them, and also to restrict the gun ownership of law-abiding citizens?  One which has no respect for either the Second Amendment or international law, obviously - but more than that, one with no concern for the lives of its own policemen.  Even the stupidest dictator knows that you need to take good care of your armed forces; not ours.

Put another way: our government and elite classes behave with no respect for anything or anyone save raw power.  We say that Muslim terrorists respect only force and that Iran will only stop developing nukes when someone makes them stop through force of arms.  It now appears that our own government will take as much of our money, property, liberty, even lives as it darn well wishes... until, again, someone makes them stop.

Who will that be?  When will they do it?  And, most particularly, how?  By force of arms?  By ballots?  Or by bullets?

We aren't eager to find out, but it had better be soon while there are at least some remaining shreds of decency in the halls of power.  The Romans had a republic once, too, before they lost it to an emperor and their liberties were consigned to the dustbin of history.