NOT last week, not last year, not last decade, but a full century ago, Americans chose to unmoor their politics from the United States Constitution and the ideas of individual natural freedom, private property, the rule of law, and the equal protection of the laws.
Americans wanted their politics to be free-floating, unanchored, unguided, all in the name of pursuing some vague notion of “progress,” but in reality drifting aimlessly, without purpose, without end or goal. We talk about moving “forward,” but we never make clear how that differs from “backward.”
Why have we done this? Why have we abandoned our great Constitutional limits on government power in favor of an undefined or ill-defined, vague concept? Because Americans wanted something more than mere constitutional government that protects the individual natural freedom and private property of citizens through the rule and equal protection of laws.
BIG DADDY SANTA CLAUS
Americans wanted their government to become a fusion of Santa Claus and Big Daddy: handing out free stuff while leading, controlling, and regulating everyone. All the time. In all areas of life. Without pesky constitutional limits.
And Americans understood the best way to rid ourselves of the binding government limits of the Constitution is to attack, ridicule, and ignore the ideas that used to provide the purpose of constitutional government: protecting individual natural freedom and private property through the rule and equal protection of laws.
This, Americans came to believe over the last 100 years, is how “society” can achieve “social justice” while being managed “scientifically.”
This combination of alleged social justice and the scientific management of society—redistributing private property while regulating everything—is as close as Americans have ever come to defining progress, the raison d’être of modern American politics, the single idea modern Americans love to love and hate to clarify.
The result is that the United States Constitution has become irrelevant to American politics, American government, American law and public policy.
Few know what the Constitution means. Few care. Some even laugh about it, including our own elected politicians. If ever the Constitution is mentioned in public discussions, Americans assume that some lawyer or judge will pronounce its authoritative meaning, like a prophet interpreting special revelation from God.
WE THE PEOPLE
Americans have forgotten that it is their Constitution, that their interpretation is more meaningful and more important, ultimately, than anything offered by judges who think the purpose of constitutional government and progressive activism are the same thing.
Americans have forgotten that it was WE THE PEOPLE who authoritatively ordained and established the Constitution, not judges or bureaucrats or regulators or politicians.
And as the Constitution has become irrelevant, so too have become irrelevant the basic principles the Constitution was designed to serve: protecting the individual natural freedom and private property of citizens through the rule and equal protection of laws.
In part, this is why Americans no longer look for constitutional public servants—we no longer seek to elect constitutional officers.
Instead, we look for “leaders.” We look for those people who seem bigger than any government office or position or title, bigger than life.
We want to vote for those who seem to embody that fusion of Santa Claus and Big Daddy: Those who promise to give away “free” stuff while guiding, controlling, and regulating everyone. All the time. In all areas of life. Without any pesky constitutional limits.
The problem is that nothing is really free. What appears to be free to some is really taken from others. Which requires great power.
And guiding, controlling, and regulating everyone, all the time, in all areas of life, without any pesky constitutional limits, requires great power.
So who or what kinds of people are most attracted to politics in our modern United States? Those most attracted to power! What else would we expect? What else should we expect?
Our current presidential politics is but an example. The two front-runners are people committed to power. Not as a means. As an end. As the end: acquiring more power for the purpose of acquiring more power. Without any regard to the Constitution, the law, or any principle that might place limits on power by establishing proper purposes for the exercise of power.
WHICH POWER-MONGER TO CHOOSE?
So what standard remains by which we citizens might judge our presidential candidates? How are we to choose among power-hungry, power-seeking, power-mongers?
Increasingly, we turn to their personal lives, their personalities and personal idiosyncrasies. We think maybe, just maybe, we can avoid cult-ism and the dangers of tyranny if we select the right kind of person to be our Big Daddy Santa Clause.
To be an American elector today is to be an armchair political psychologist. Our politics has become more personal and more about personality as it has become less Constitutional. Personal matters matter more today than ideas or principles or even policies.
It doesn’t matter if a policy proposal is impossible, mere fantasy. Free health care for everyone? Sure! Free housing, free schools, free cell phones? Sign us up! Bureaucratic control over global trade or global jobs or global wages or the global climate? Sounds great!
What matters more is: Did the person proposing the policy ever say or do anything offensive in the personal realm? Is their personality nice or mean?
That’s really the only important subject in modern politics. Because in our imaginations, we cannot fuse the image of Big Daddy Santa Clause with someone who said or did something in the personal realm that we find offensive.
KEEPING THE IMAGE CLEAN
Big Daddy is kind, loving, and always protecting.
Santa Clause is, well, Santa Claus. He gives us stuff!
We don’t want either image stained by ugly words or human failings or bad feelings.
We don’t want real people who serve in limited constitutional offices and exercise only a few limited powers…because we don’t fully trust them…because they’re…human.
Instead, we want leaders, which means we want those who seem like Big Daddy Santa Claus.
That’s why the personal realm is, arguably, as important today in our politics, probably more, than ever before. Our politics is the cult of personality, not the cult of constitutionality.
CIVILIZED VERSUS SAVAGE
And, thanks to a video that has recently surfaced featuring Donald Trump saying terribly ugly things about women and sex, our political attention (for a while) will likely focus on sex—especially the sexual exploitation and abuse of women.
What does that mean for our current presidential politics?
It means we’ll talk about one crony candidate who has said things about women, and possibly done things to women, that cannot and should not be defended by civilized people.
The very definition of “civilization” means the promise, or hope, of men and women protecting each other, and their children, not using or abusing or hurting each other.
In a world long before modern progressive political correctness, the distinction between civilized versus savage regimes used to be the distinction between those in which men used their strength to protect women and children versus those in which men used their strength to hurt women and children. Sounds very old-fashioned, doesn’t it?
What Mr. Trump said about women is unfit for civilized people. Period. It cannot be excused or justified or explained away. It’s wrong. It’s savage.
To be clear, men aiming to harass, intimidate, hurt, control, and use women is all about…power.
The video also means that we’ll be talking about the other candidate, Mrs. Clinton, who rose to power and built an entire crony political career by attacking the reputations and careers and lives of women as they were hurt by her husband.
Women protecting predators of women, too, is unfit for civilized people. And to be clear, women protecting predators of women for the purpose of acquiring power is all about…power.
EXPECTING LIMITS ON UNLIMITED POWER
But, heck, we seemed long ago to agree that the precepts of civilization—using strength and power to protect the natural freedoms and private property of all citizens, equally—isn’t very progressive.
Certainly the precepts of a Constitutional civilization aren’t matters of concern for Big Daddy Santa Claus. So the fact that we now have two progressive Presidential candidates, both of whom stand outside the parameters of civilization in their endless quest for unending power, seems fitting. Again: What else would we expect?
We seem to expect people who pursue power over other people, without limit by law or principle or practice—people who wield the raw power to be our Big Daddy Santa Claus!—who say and do nothing mean or bad to women. Or racial minorities. Or the poor. Or select religious cults.
We seem to ignore the fact that power without limits is, well, power without limits. It’s dangerous.
But now that we equate “progress” with “removing limits on power,” now that we view Constitutional limits as obstacles to “progress,” we’re not sure where to turn or what to do when we see power being used in cruel or unjust ways.
We are deeply confused. We want the ultimate Earthly power—government!—to be unlimited. At the same time, we occasionally are reminded of the need for limits on power. And we are now reduced to searching for those limits by searching the personality and personal idiosyncrasies and psyche of our next “leader.”
GETTING WHAT WE WANT
So this ugly video now made public likely means Americans will talk and debate and choose which wrongs they ignore in their candidates versus which wrongs they do not—citizens will denounce each other for their respective moral sensitivities or insensitivities—insofar as those wrongs are connected to the treatment of women within the context of sex in the private realm—while ignoring the wrongs intrinsic to the politics of Big Daddy Santa Claus.
It means private sex will likely define the public election of the next President of the United States.
It means Americans will get the leaders they choose, the government they choose, the laws and policies and regulations they choose, all of which likely will have nothing to do with the United States Constitution and the ideas of individual natural freedom, private property, the rule of law, and the equal protection of the laws. Because those things are of not much interest to us anymore.