Have Our Founding Fathers Failed Us?

 

imageIf the Founding Fathers failed in any regard, they failed to make governance sufficiently horrible, thankless, difficult, rancorous, disagreeable, and ineffective. No doubt once they found themselves in it, they discovered just how awful it really was, but they failed to keep it that way.

Little by little, steps have been taken, salaries increased, perks added, trappings acknowledged, and holding office has morphed into the insular, protected, self-congratulatory, celebrity, investment club that it now is. To paraphrase Mel Brooks: it’s good to be the government.

Our government used to be the place where only prominent, wealthy, self-less men took on the thankless tasks of self-governance. Now it’s the place where the politically ambitious rise to gain wealth and prominence. It’s full of carpet baggers and grifters on all sides of the aisle. They aspire to Washington as that’s the place where the real money and power is. Forget that the real work of government should be a tedious grind of difficult choices. “Go along, get along” is the motto; that and “You’ll get yours.”

So hard budget choices? Fageddabout it. We’ll just run deficits and borrow. Better yet, we’ll borrow from the Federal Reserve and let them worry about where the money comes from (have paper and ink, will travel.) Conflicts around the world? Let’s wring our hands, talk about how awful it is, how it could all be different if there were just more opportunities, if we could just all be friends, if we could sit down and talk, share a cup of tea or a beer.

Do you feel your opportunities are limited, that success is passing you by? Look to the successful, not to emulate them, but to despise them. They are hoarding all the success, not paying their fair share, and that makes you a victim, their victim.

Are actuarially certain bombs set to go off in the Social Security and Medicare systems? Ignore the hissing fuses. Thinking about those issues just makes everyone’s head hurt. Instead, say you’ll fight for those programs. Fight, fight, fight. You’re a fighter.

Our government is all unicorns and rainbows, with you, the determined Congressman, Senator, President, fighting, fighting, to keep it that way while you golf, vacation, make money, make more money and go along to get along, la di da. It’s a wonderful job and a wonderful life.

But it was never meant to be so, and it cannot last.

I have a new rule for conservatives: never vote for a candidate for office who likes the job. The time for hard choices is coming.

There are 16 comments.

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  1. Crabby Appleton Inactive
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    Ask, rather, have we failed our founding fathers? We have allowed all of this to happen.

    • #1
  2. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Crabby Appleton:Ask, rather, have we failed our founding fathers?We have allowed all of this to happen.

    I accept no blame.

    • #2
  3. user_216080 Thatcher
    user_216080
    @DougKimball

    Crabby Appleton

    Ask, rather, have we failed our founding fathers? We have allowed all of this to happen.

    Crabby:

    And how, pray tell, could it have been stopped? Wilson showed it was possible to ignore the constitution and simply assume executive power. FDR took that advice and when opponents turned to the court for relief, packed the court and jammed stuff through. LBJ had majorities and did what he wanted. Now Obama has coronated himself. We had one brief point during Bush 2 where we could have acted, and we were too polite and preoccupied to do it.

    We will soon have a second chance.

    • #3
  4. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    The Chinese and the Assyrians relied on eunuchs to run their empires. Is that sufficiently horrible?

    And it would have resolved the Bill Clinton problems…

    • #4
  5. Matede Inactive
    Matede
    @MateDe

    I like your rule to elect people who don’t want the job. I listen to adam carolla and he always says you can weed out the pedifiles by getting the guy who is trying to not get noticed when asked for volunteers to take the kids on the jamberee in the woods next weekend. The guy who volunteers is a little too eager, get the guy who would rather watch the game that weekend. Same for the politicians

    • #5
  6. Matede Inactive
    Matede
    @MateDe

    Also I think the founders would be surprised the country lasted this long. If you read what they said at the time of the ratification of the constitution they didn’t have much faith that self government could last very long

    • #6
  7. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Crabby Appleton:Ask, rather, have we failed our founding fathers?We have allowed all of this to happen.

    Agreed Crabby. Remember the words of Ben Franklin:

    The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 were held in strict secrecy. Consequently, anxious citizens gathered outside Independence Hall when the proceedings ended in order to learn what had been produced behind closed doors. The answer was provided immediately. A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    • #7
  8. Gödel's Ghost Inactive
    Gödel's Ghost
    @GreatGhostofGodel

    Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

    — John Adams

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

    — Thomas Jefferson

    A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.

    — Elmer Peterson

    And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.

    — Thomas Jefferson

    • #8
  9. Owen Findy Member
    Owen Findy
    @OwenFindy

    Did the Founders fail us? I’d say not, because it isn’t fair to judge what they did against an impossibly-perfect ideal. They did damned well; maybe, history may learn in the fullness of time, as well as will ever be done.

    • #9
  10. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    Our Founding Fathers have not failed us.

    It is not a failure to have been born in 1743 and unable perfectly to predict what the world would look like in 2015.

    “Tom, you disappointed me. You failed. You thought you could get a passing grade with “Champion of the Enlightenment?” You thought you’d just sail along in my history class on the name Jefferson? No grade inflation in my class, Tom. You had to predict a world in which I could instantly grade you. From Paris. In real time. And one in which, should I feel like it, I could simply fly–flap my wings pretty much–to America. I can get back in less than 24 hours if highly motivated–and I’m just a normal American. The important ones can do it a lot faster. Normal ones like me have to figure out how to get the bots at BofA to take the hold off our credit card and wait in line at the airport. If you didn’t see all of that coming, you failed.”

    • #10
  11. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Well, we’ve come to the point, haven’t we, of examining the basic Madisonian assumption of the Constitution – namely, that dividing power among branches will create equal and therefore balancing forces. But experience shows they don’t.

    Madison should have studied game theory.

    Game theory studies a game called Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD). One of the lessons that PD teaches is that when there are multiple players, each player faces a tradeoff between (a) the amount they will be required to contribute and (b) whether withholding their contribution will be noticed and penalized. The larger the group you belong to, the less likely you’ll be noticeable individually. Once the group grows past a certain point, it’s possible to free-ride; you get the benefits of the group without contributing anything yourself.

    In any contest between the president and Congress, the fact that the Congress is made up of many individuals (versus the single president) means that it is categorically easier for each member of Congress to fail to contribute. In this case, to “contribute” is to go on record and vote against the president (especially if he’s the leader of your party) because that contribution becomes a cost. Each member of Congress has the possibility of free-riding; that is, they want other members to bear the cost of opposing the president – but not them. Inevitably, since that possibility exists for every member, the power of Congress breaks down, and that weakness means they have less power to oppose the president. Eventually, the president gathers so much power from repeated victories that there is no balance.

    The only balancing power left is the Court. But that has its own Prisoner’s Dilemma game.

    • #11
  12. user_216080 Thatcher
    user_216080
    @DougKimball

    KC Mulville

    Well, we’ve come to the point, haven’t we, of examining the basic Madisonian assumption of the Constitution – namely, that dividing power among branches will create equal and therefore balancing forces. But experience shows they don’t.

    Madison should have studied game theory.

    Wow! That’s one of the coolist things I’ve read in a LONG time, but it’s so true! To extrapolate, when Senators were beholden to state governments, they had a real constituency to deal with and this was something of an innoculation against the theory you describe. Likewise, two year Congressional terms were likely thought to insulate the Congress. Also, if I remember, the founders were appalled by the concentration of power into two dominent parties. I think that they expected more of the pluralcy of a parlimentary system, but more independent as there would be no need to form alliances to make a government along with a regular purging of the ranks at election time.

    Unfortunately, the Genie is out of the bottle; the 17th Amendment will never be repealed. People will never cede their right to elect their senators even if this would improve governance.

    • #12
  13. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    There are no structural defects in the original Constitution. The only true defect of the Constitution is the 16th amendment. Get rid of the federal government’s power to directly tax it’s citizens and the public treasury barely exists and so there is little danger that the public will vote itself largess.

    • #13
  14. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    Tuck:The Chinese and the Assyrians relied on eunuchs to run their empires. Is that sufficiently horrible?

    And it would have resolved the Bill Clinton problems…

    LMAO!

    • #14
  15. user_216080 Thatcher
    user_216080
    @DougKimball

    Tuck:The Chinese and the Assyrians relied on eunuchs to run their empires. Is that sufficiently horrible?

    And it would have resolved the Bill Clinton problems…

    I might argue we have our own eunuchs in Congress and they seem to be having a gay (archaic meaning) time of it, so, NO!

    • #15
  16. Ricochet Thatcher
    Ricochet
    @Luke

    To Mr. Z in MT ,
    As with publius
    Brutus would disagree.

    • #16

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