Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Natural Aristocracy

“People living their life for you on TV, they think they’re better than you and you agree.” - Jewel

In a recent video posted on Youtube.com Representative (NY) Tim Bishop meets with protesters in his home district. They are protesting government intervention in their life and are quite agitated.

Obviously trying to set a standard of decorum and control in this environment the representative says: “We have an obligation to discuss those issues in a fashion that is civil and respectful. And let me say one other thing, in a fashion that is informed.”

Now let’s state first and foremost that this isn’t the fun part of being a congressman. This sucks. Let’s even suppose these people are a little over the top in their words and actions.

Even with that stipulated, did you catch what the congressman said? He revealed something very enlightening about his view of his constituents: They’re the uninformed proletariat and they don’t know as much as the congressman about the issue of health care reform.

Not sure that’s really what he meant? Why didn’t he just leave it at civil? Certainly his audience was worked up and it was in everyone’s best interest to let cooler heads prevail. But why did he have to add in the “informed” comment? Because he felt anybody who didn’t see the need for a massive overhaul of health care reform must be uninformed.

The arrogance of the modern politician is stunning, but it isn’t new.

One of the great fears of the founding fathers during the American revolution was that an American victory would result in chaos and that, in turn, would lead to a despotic ruler restoring order. It was why the Articles of Confederation were abandoned in favor of the Constitution, and a much stronger central government was created.

The French revolution was however very different. Chaos did reign in Paris after their revolution. With a citizenry more bent on getting revenge for past wrongs than obtaining freedom, the rule of law quickly turned into mob justice. In response to this mob rule an authoritarian board was set up. After long turmoil and bloodshed the country got so tired of the chaos that they abandoned their new won freedom in exchange for security and gave Napoleon power. They did so because they had come to the conclusion that during times of upheaval a true and natural aristocracy arose that was, by virtue of their superior intellect, supposed to lead.

In the Americas, men like Alexander Hamilton decried this notion as elitist and no different than outright mob mentality. To believe the general population to be inferior in some way to ruling elite was no different than hereditary rule, they thought (ok a bit of an over simplification of their views, but essentially accurate).

There was however one of the founders that embraced the notion fully. Thomas Jefferson wrote numerous times of the natural aristocracy that would naturally, by their superior intellect and prowess at government, rise to the top of the barrel and rule. Society was the better for it, because the aristocrats were able to manipulate the world to the betterment of all mankind.

There is a certain logic to it, and anybody that lives in any society has to know that people gifted with talents succeed in this life at a greater rate that people of lesser skill and intelligence. With that in mind, however, what is the consequences of such a belief?

The first and foremost affect is that a republic infected with this belief is dead. How can one represent the will of one’s constituents if one believes they are ignorant and their opinions shallow? If the masses are indeed ignorant, then should a representative listen to their constituents?

The second effect is the destruction of the rule of law. If you are better able to govern yourself and master yourself than the average person, why should you be subject to the same laws as that person? Don’t you have an obligation to protect the masses from themselves and their propensity to fail? If 47 million Americans can’t seem to find a way to get health insurance, under this belief system, aren’t you obligated to provide it for them even if your system is separate from theirs?

The third affect is to change the motivation of serving in Government. Now, because it is essential that you, the superior intellect, stay in power so no less capable person (who is “uninformed”) can damage the progress you’ve made; isn’t it appropriate to manipulate the system in any way necessary to make sure you stay in power? After all, you cannot effect a better world for the “uninformed” masses unless you wield the power to do so. Therefore the accumulation of power is paramount and essential in fulfilling your role. You can not assist the people without it.

Fourth; Any other kind of Elite, is a danger. What sets people apart as this natural aristocracy? Election, of course. The fact that the masses of people, who are generally stupid in all other aspects, votes you in, proves that they look up to you as a person that can do for them what they can’t do for themselves?

Fifth and most dangerously, this belief leads to a natural belief that the good of the masses out weighs the individual rights of the people that make up the masses. Everyone must sacrifice to serve the community (except of course the natural aristocracy because they are above the law).

I don’t think I really need to, but here’s a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Representative Bishop’s response to his constituents.
The fact that even in the mid nineties, although smoking wasn’t allowed in any other federal buildings in the country, it was still legal to smoke in the capital building and adjacent office buildings in Washington DC.
The fact that Congress was not subject to the following laws until 1995:
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (Overtime pay for non-exempt workers)
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Discrimination)
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment act of 1967 (Discrimination)
  • The Americans with Disabilities act of 1973 (Wheelchair access, discrimination, etc)
Recent campaign finance regulation is focused on limiting contributions to campaigns and not the activities of those campaigns (including prohibiting when you can denigrate a candidate).
The vilification of corporations and “the rich” as somehow getting their money unfairly and the desire to “spread” that money “around a little.”

And finally as proof I proffer the following comment from a former President:

“For it is very clear, that in fundamental theory socialism and democracy are almost if not quite one and the same. They both rest at bottom upon the absolute right of the community to determine its own destiny and that of its members. Men as communities are supreme over men as individuals… Democracy is bound by no principle of its own nature to say itself nay as to the exercise of any power… the difference between democracy and socialism is not an essential difference, but only a practical difference- is a difference of organization and policy, not a difference of primary motive.” Woodrow Wilson as Quoted by Glen Beck in his new book Glen Beck’s Common Sense (pg. 65)-bolding added.

Yes, I think Representative Bishop meant what he said. He didn’t want to argue with the uninformed and betrayed his view that Americans that disagree with him are of lesser intelligence and inferior to the natural aristocracy. Oh don’t worry he isn’t alone; there are plenty of politicians on both sides of the isle with the view.

I would like to challenge that notion. I challenge any member of Congress (either chamber) that supports the President’s plan for health care reform to a debate. I’m no expert and am certainly not part of the natural aristocracy of this country, but rather am an average American. It’s time that they understand, their job is to keep government out of my way so I can achieve the great things I want to achieve, not the other way around.

Any takers? Cowards! Afraid the “uninformed” know more than you about health care?