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Friday, May 26, 2006

Dr. Strangelaw or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate the Congress

I've held off blogging about the whole farcical, Kubrickesque, "Gentlemen, you can't follow the law in here, this is Congress!" thing mainly because the absurd separation-of-powers logic used by House Speaker Hastert, Minority Leader Pelosi and others may have surprised me, but it didn't shock me. That is, I was surprised at the specific "justification" our lawmakers have given for being above the law, but not at all shocked that they consider themselves above the law.

Here's why:
The more powerful a government is, the more powerful government positions are.

The more powerful goverment positions are, the more they attract the kind of people who enjoy the feeling and trappings of power.

The more people enjoy the feeling and trappings of power, the more likely it is that they will use any means necessary to keep themselves in power.

The more people will use any means necessary to keep themselves in power, the more likely they are to eventually consider themselves above the law.
We cede more and more power to our government every day: how can any of us be shocked when we finally notice that we've created an arrogant, out of control political class? The reason I used to consider conservatives preferable to liberals is that a central tenet of conservatism is supposed to be smaller, less intrusive government. But it seems that Congressional "conservatives" have learned that smaller government means less power for them, and they've discovered that they don't like that idea.

So from there it's a straight line to the sad spectacle of the past several days, in which we've seen outraged - and terrified - Congresspeople shamelessly wrapping themselves in the cloak of the Constitution to hide the fact that they're ethically naked. (These days it's just a skip and a jump from the Congressional Record to a criminal record.) And all the shock in the world can't hide the fact that we, the people, created the very monster we despise.

And when you create a monster, you can't be surprised when it acts monstrously.

Anonymous fmragtops said...

Luckily, I'm young enough to be blame free for creating the monster, but unluckily, people my age are gonna hafta kill that freakin' thing the old people created.

09:18  
Blogger Steve the Pirate said...

Cranky:

I've noticed there's a major difference between conservatives and Washington Republicans. Don't blame us all.

14:12  
Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

stp:

That's why I said congressional "conservatives."

That said, there is a large number of so-called "conservatives" who are really puritanical populists who have absolutely no qualms about using the power of government to regulate people's lives.

16:04  
Blogger The Casual Observer said...

Thanks for the welcome back, and _oh_ what a lovely title.

12:18  
Blogger David said...

Well said. I have approached this phenomenon from a couple of different, equally accessible, angles, myself. One approach was simply to ask folks to read 9(or, likely in many, if not most cases, to actually read for the first time) the "long train of abuses" listed in the Declaration of Independence and note analogs to many of them being perpetrated by the political elite of our day...

As for American conservatism, I do not believe anyone has improved on R.L. Dabney's 19th century description of the beast:

"American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward to perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It tends to risk nothing serious for the sake of truth."
- R. L. Dabney

10:24  

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