The Delusional Style In American Politics

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   A LOT OF INTERESTING QUIRKS in the American political psyche were highlighted during the last year and a half of presidential campaigning. The one most interesting to me is the widely-held notion that it’s possible to have a big, rich and activist state which, despite these attributes, nonetheless humbly respects and protects individual rights and subordinates itself to the rule of law.

   Accompanying this peculiar notion of a humble and respectful superstate is another silly idea -- that Americans can persistently send large amounts of money to Washington and their local statehouse and yet simultaneously be rescued from having to do so by people from Washington and their local statehouses. Both of these crazy ideas are expressions of the Delusional Style of American Politics.

   The recent “repeal Obamacare” debacle should prove to all that no remedy for Leviathan will be found in the political process. Even just this one recent statist offense -- a takeover of the healthcare market not fully in place until only two years ago and which is widely despised and considered a harmful wreck by Democrat and Republican voters alike -- is so invulnerable to a political remedy that a “reform” was the best the political process could muster, and even that half-hearted effort failed.

   I BELIEVE DELUSIONAL EXPECTATIONS of a humble Leviathan and saintly office-holders are the result of a relentless campaign by every political hack of the last 119 years to misconstrue the concept of “American Exceptionalism.” 

   Under the misconstruction, America -- or the American structure of government -- is imagined to be inherently incapable of elevating scoundrels, incompetents and outright criminals to office, or, at a minimum, is imagined to be self-correcting should this have happened by means of the same mechanisms that allowed the problem to arise in the first place.

   But this is crazy-talk. Incumbents in high office have enjoyed re-election odds of over 90% for decades, with only few and slight occasional dips down to the upper 80s for the House and little more volatility for the Senate. The bureaucrats that actually interpret and administer policy are in office for life, as are the judges and justices that write and re-write and interpret and enforce whatever they fancy as the law. 

   Under no circumstances does the American structure contain meaningful self-correcting mechanisms by way of the political process. Quite the contrary, in fact.

   Like any other, the American political process tends to cement into place the status quo generally. Also like most any other, the American political process tends to steadily raise the bar of political-class bad behavior which will be punished -- or even remarked at all -- by their fellows, who conveniently reserve unto themselves the power of punishment.

   AGAIN, THE VIEW THAT AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM LIES in our political structure, which somehow can be counted on to produce good rulers or at least discipline the bad ones, is the source of delusion. In fact, that delusional notion is nearly the precise opposite of the truth.

   American exceptionalism actually lies in the fact that key areas of power and decision-making are Constitutionally-withheld from our governmental organs and those who find their way into office, no matter how good or bad they may be. As Jefferson said, explaining this point, “Let no more be heard of confidence in [any officeholder], but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

   Areas from which politicians and their cronies and appointees are kept by the chains of the Constitution are left to states (themselves bound down by their own Constitutions), and, more broadly and more importantly, to the rule of individual Americans. The Founders understood that individual Americans, and ONLY individual Americans, would, in exercising their power on behalf of their own self-interest in each such area, further the well-being of all in a natural “invisible hand” ripple-effect dynamic of sobriety and prosperity as first (or at least, most famously) spelled out by Adam Smith in his 1776 masterwork, ‘The Wealth of Nations.’

   Chief among the areas of power withheld from unreliable office-holders is the disposal of the wealth of individual citizens. The Constitution is carefully designed to prevent the state -- that is, the organ embodying the aggregate will of the majority -- from exercising control over any individual's wealth or means of acquiring wealth.

   The Founders well understood that control over the means by which a man satisfies his wants is control over his will -- which is to say, despotism. Our federal and state Constitutions proscribe all means by which governments and those who run them can exercise despotism.
   Thus we have the great rules of federal taxation by which any and all capitations and other direct taxes (go to http://losthorizons.com/Newsletter/MythBusters/Capitation.pdf to see what this means -- it’s not what you think) are confined to application by the mechanism of apportionment. Only indirect taxes (go to http://losthorizons.com/Excise.pdf to see what this means -- it’s not what you think), which by their nature leave regulation of their burden in the hands of the individual (go to http://losthorizons.com/Documents/CtCLife.htm to see what this means -- it's not what you think), can be applied without this insulating device.

   IT IS THESE CONTROLLING PROVISIONS RELATED TO TAXATION, along with other strict limits on government power and authority, that make America exceptional. It is not our political structure; rather, it is what we keep from being vulnerable to the products of our political structure.
Reliance on the political process, and hoping that White Knights will be produced thereby who will save us from the corruption and criminality of the last products of the political process, is just the usual delusional stupidity that has plagued and paralyzed mankind since the first naif hoped the new king would have lesser appetites than the one just departed. Only the exceptional withholding of power from any and all office-holders will do the trick.

   “A slave is one who waits for someone to come and free him.”  -Ezra Pound

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