US Democratic presidential candidate Obama reacts as he holds a baby at a rally in Columbia, South CarolinaLike all actual conservatives, I look on any increase in the powers of the Republican Party as an opportunity for disappointment. Its leaders would rather run a permanent minority than serve as part of a majority actually returning power to the states and the people. Better to be ruled by Democrats, “our” leaders believe, so long as “we” get a seat at the table, than to allow the yokels and yahoos into the Club, let alone allow them to govern themselves.

Then there is the other party. Democrats may squabble, but their governing elites and activist supporters have no doubt who the real enemy is—anyone stupid enough not to vote for Democrats. The self-satisfaction of the party that knows it is always, not just right, but caring in its righteousness, is only surpassed by its petulance in the face of rejection. Some of this, like Bill Clinton’s insistence on mulligan after mulligan on the golf course, may be simple lack of maturity. But the lack of maturity is reinforced by ideological pride and can be downright dangerous in its implications.

Case in point: with significant losses looking inevitable, the New York Times, that bastion of unearned smugness, published last weekend a pre-emptive op-ed by a Professor at Duke and one of his “precocious” students demanding “never again” and asserting, in essence, “no fair!” Titled “Cancel the Midterms,” the piece is such an obvious bit of self-interested, self-pitying double-speak that any responsible newspaper would have been too embarrassed to print it.

But embarrassment is not part of the Times’ genetic makeup. And so we read that the midterms will only “create greater partisan divisions, increase gridlock and render governance of our complex nation even more difficult.” Worse, of course, the midterms, which coincidentally have brought the election of non-Democratic, hence stupid and evil people, will “weaken the President” who is “the only government official (other than the powerless vice president) elected by the entire nation.” My, how far we have progressed since the era of concern over the “Imperial Presidency.” Oh, wait, those were Republican Presidents. Never mind.

We also are told that midterm elections are a bad idea because two years is not enough time for a member of Congress to prove himself worthy, or not, of re-election. Longer terms will allow members to gain greater expertise and so cooperate better with the President in administering our nation—sorry, “doing the people’s business.”

Such forward-thinking ideas would have made Woodrow Wilson proud. For, like most of our Democratic elites, the authors, here, are doing nothing more (or less) than working to finalize the Progressive vision of a national state administered by the executive officer with a little help from legislators. That this vision is in direct conflict with the structure of our Congressionally-centered Constitution, that it reduces the people to a mass called upon to make occasional meaningless choices among expert rulers, and that it smells of sour grapes, all pass unnoticed. Still, it always is nice to see the ruling class and its hangers-on perform to one’s expectations.

More troubling is the clear willingness to use, alter, or ignore the Constitution according to how well it serves as a convenient tool to achieve the obviously moral goal of electing more Democrats. Our authors, here, at least admit an amendment is needed to cancel the midterms. More often the response to opposition is simply to ignore the Constitution altogether. Our last President, George W. Bush, was the master of signing legislation into law, then undermining it through use of “signing statements” and other decrees. But at least we (and by “we” I mean people from all parts of the political spectrum) criticized him for it. Obama decrees, whether signing statements or executive orders, seem to pass almost unnoticed on the left.

The prevalent liberal attitude can be summed up as “I’m right and if the people don’t recognize it they need to learn better or have some votes taken away.” Given this, one can only shudder at the prospect of President Obama and his supporters “freed” from an electoral future and a legislative present. Under such circumstances, an obstructionist Congress, were it possible to get one, might be highly useful.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
"All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable."
6 replies to this post
  1. Politics is like sports: it’s destined to break your heart. The real motivation to vote is to prevent the other guys from enacting their horrible agenda.

  2. Bruce, I don’t have any idea what it is you are trying to say. But, then, I am new here. I see that you are making snippy in-side knowledgeable comments, but what they are trying to say, I don’t get.

    But to make a constructive comment; I think you are fighting your battles at the wrong levels. Our leaders reflect us. It is us who should be the target of thoughts. What is it about the American people that causes them to more and more believe that the President of the United States is somehow in charge of everything? And responsible for everything? Find out what is causing that and we can make some progress.

  3. What’s the difference between a left winger and a sewer rat? The rat is a warm blooded creature that nurtures its young. You don’t hear of rats going to rat abortion clinics to exterminate their own offspring. Left wingers are not quite so civilized.

  4. As always, when encountering such proposals, I am appalled at the lack of historical knowledge of those proposing such inane silliness. It is the same as the claim eliminating the Electoral College will increase democracy (when in actuality, it will decrease the amount of “heft” any individual vote has.)

    It may be every generation is victim to the Modernist Heresy, in that each one believes it alone has ever seen such turmoil as currently runs amok (giggling and naked all the way) to the ballot box.

    The two areas of history, or History, which I like to read are antebellum America (of the 1840s and 1850s) and pre-Nazi Germany. Both of them recall the proverb, “He who forgets the Past has forfeited the Future.”

  5. Of course the system was in part designed to be subject to caution and delay, more true in the past than today. It bears remembering that until, I believe, 1913, the Senate was not subject to direct elections. De Tocqueville commented on the difference in manners and atmosphere between the two Chambers, the Senate more sedate and deliberative, the House striking him as something of a free for all.
    What was that about “bind them from mischief with the chains of the Constitution”, Rather it appears the process is designed to function as a sort of assembly line, interrupted if at all by the various procurers of pork blathering on the floor.
    The last thing one should want is to lessen the pressure on legislators to act with whatever honor remains and instead maintain the review of a two year election cycle.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: