When I was a child, the only time I felt I had the full attention of my parents was when I was either sick or in some sort of difficulty. Otherwise, real or imagined, I felt invisible. As a result, I “learned” that being sick or having some kind of crisis was a way to feel loved. I developed a pattern around that system that lasted well into adulthood. I am certain my parents never intended to create that kind of reaction or outcome. In hindsight, I am certain they loved me, but the system that was in place was perverse and led to disastrous outcomes. So it is with our government.
I believe that well-intentioned, good people go to Washington to serve this nation. But even the most honorable men and women find themselves trying to navigate a federal government that has been corrupted and, as a result, creates perverse outcomes. I am not saying that every public servant is honorable. For those who seek public office for personal gain, the system, as it now functions, provides him or her with almost limitless opportunities to accumulate such gain. But for those who genuinely seek to serve, it is an impossibility to do so in the face of systemic corruption.
Two cases in point. Hilary Clinton and Ted Cruz.
Hilary Clinton has been in and around public office all of her adult life. She is the consummate Washington insider. She has made no significant contribution to the public she serves; has been on the edge of several scandals; is currently mistrusted by the majority of Americans. Yet, she is her party’s front running candidate for the Presidency and, in no small measure, has amassed for herself and her family a financial fortune. She is the epitome of how the broken system supports ignoring those served in favor of self-aggrandizement
Ted Cruz has been in the United States Senate for approximately three years. He has kept every promise made to his constituents when he ran for office. His was the director of the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, an associate Deputy General at the U.S. Department of Justice, and domestic policy advisor to U.S. President George W. Bush on the 2000 Bush-Cheyney campaign. He served as Solicitor General of Texas from 2003 to May 2008. He has stood, literally stood, before the United States Senate by filibustering funding of Obamacare and publicly, from the floor of the Senate, called Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority leader and a member of Cruz’s own party) a liar by producing supporting evidence. A popular candidate among Republicans for the party’s Presidential nominee in 2016, he is ostracized, maligned and marginalized by the entire system for his courage and his honesty.
Because it isn’t about the individual but rather about the system, the point being made here is best exemplified by Donald Trump. Donald Trump, a surprise favorite for the Republican nomination for President, said the problem is that “our leaders are stupid.” Whether Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, or Ted Cruz I think the case can be made that these people are anything but stupid. The problem isn’t about individuals, it’s about a corrupted and broken system that, as I said earlier, is a breeding ground for the ill-intentioned and quicksand for the well-intentioned. (Note: This reference to Trump and the individual vs. the system is taken from Glenn Beck’s comments during his radio show today).
Therefore, replacing one smart person with another is not the answer. One of my favorite refrains over the past three decades has been that intelligence, absent moral and ethical underpinnings, is a potentially dangerous gift. Swapping out leaders without also cleaning out the swamp will only get us more of the same, not matter how well-intentioned. Cleaning out the swamp in this context means shrinking the size of the swamp (the federal government) and then draining it of rot by holding those individuals accountable, without regard for political standing or wealth, who operate outside the Constitution and the legal system. Then of course, it means putting into office not the charismatic but the principled.
I think Donald Trump represents two very specific things we seek. First, we have become an angry, divided and mistrustful nation because we have allowed ourselves to be controlled and manipulated by fear and political correctness. Trump represents an expression of our anger with his total disregard for political correctness. Secondly, each of us wants financial security and most of us harbor some overt or latent desire to be successful and wealthy. Trump is both of those. He is the embodiment of who we want to be: fearless, independent and rich.
Vicarious living is like virtual reality. It’s make believe. Vicariously enjoying what Donald Trump has done with his life and how he gets in the face of the politically correct will not solve your problems, mine or the nation’s. Its just one more way to postpone the inevitable.
The inevitable is that government is too big and too corrupt. The inevitable is that we must return to adherence to the structure that first built this nation, the Constitution. The inevitable is that we must decide what our principles are as individuals first, and as citizens second, then make our decisions in accordance with those principles. The inevitable is that we must each exhibit courage in the face of danger and be willing to die rather than live enslaved…either to a corrupt U.S. government or ISIS.
The inevitable is that unless we exercise our uniquely granted free will to make better choices that we have made of late we will become, tragically, a lost opportunity in the history of humankind’s potential.