I've noticed recently that each new President we get seems to be worse than the one before. How can that be? After all, each one of them begs for our vote because they want to fix what their predecessor screwed up. How is it that fixing a prior screw-up winds up being a bigger screw-up? Congress follows the same pattern, more or less.
I write this because I think I may have discovered the key to understanding what's happening.
We toss the ball back and forth between Republicans and Democrats on the rebuttable presumption that they are different. That may be the source of the problem.
The great conflict, here at the end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st, is not 'right-vs-left', but rather 'collectivist-vs-individualist'. Put another way: does the citizen exist so that government may exist or does government exist so that the citizenry can exist? My answer is the same as Thomas Jefferson's, he who wrote in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it...
That is: our happiness, our rights, are the reason we created this government, and its only job is to make sure we keep our rights and (thusly) our happiness. That's an individualist position, and not enough Americans subscribe to it. Certainly, neither the Republican party nor the Democratic party subscribe to it. Their goal is to remain in power and to grow that power. Growing that power means, necessarily, growing government. That means, in the normal course of things, more laws (for you to obey), more cost (for businesses to pay), another bureaucracy employing more civil servants who will be paid by either
- higher taxes,
- inflation, or
- more debt
And in four years we will complain about how much worse this President is than the last one.
What's the solution? I think we need to get over the provably false notion that the solution to all our problems is 'more government'. We need to stop electing people whose real goal is to amass ever more power to themselves by being part of an ever more massive government bureaucracy. We need to elect people who are philosophically committed to reducing the size of government (as opposed to saying they're in favor of small government). That disqualifies Democrats, who are traditionally the 'bigger government party'. It also disqualifies Republicans, who talk a good 'small government' game, but who act as if they are really Democrats.
What's left? Is anybody really a proponent of 'smaller government than we have now'? There may be.
The Libertarian Party is roundly criticized for holding that there ought to be fewer laws for we the people to obey and fewer regulations for businesses to follow. 'Anarchy!' their detractors shout, but here's the 'rub': It's all those regulations that force businesses to employ armies of lobbyists to grease the palms of Congressmen so that the next set of regulations doesn't hurt them. Hell, the lobbyists often write the regulations that Congressmen then pass off as their own crusading work. Does anyone think a lobbyist would write a regulation that would damage their employer and leave the competition unfettered? Does anyone think a lobbyist might write a regulation which would hobble the competition and leave their employer in a position to pillage the public treasury? As long as you think There Oughta Be A Law, the latter is far more likely than the former. And the Congress loves it. Why do you think there are more millionaires per capita in Congress than in the general population?
Certainly, having to choose between the two major parties and picking, every four years, the lesser of two evils has not, historically, been a good choice on our part. Maybe it's time for something entirely different.