As the field of GOP hopefuls expands for the 2016 race, one must ask, “Are they running to serve us, upholding our constitutional rights and liberty? Or are they just building their constituency?” Is it possible to do both? Theoretically, it is. Politically, the chances are slim to none. Which do candidates believe come first? Discount what they say when fawning for the media. Most of us who’ve been around for more than one voting cycle recall the dissonance from what the candidates say on the stump, and how he or she behaves once in office. It‘s often referred to as “buyer’s remorse.“ We’ve all experienced it at one time or another.
Webster defines constituency as, “all people, especially voters, served by a particular elected official.” It continues, “the district of a group of voters…a group of clients, supporters, etc.” Since our Founders framed this Republic, the notion to serve, with rare exceptions, has been obscured and ignored. There’s been a load of “self-serving.” Unfortunately, the clients being served, are too often large donors, money bundlers, political strategist, and a myriad of “invisible hands” that the average voter never sees. Much like the wind. We never see it, but we surely feel it. That soft, gentle breeze may turn into a raging destructive force.
A minimal form of government is a necessary evil, as the Founder’s acknowledged. Ludwig von Mises stated the dilemma succinctly, “The worst evils which mankind has ever had to endure were inflicted by governments. The state can be and has often been the main source of mischief and disaster.” Both the right and left talk about “battling big government.” There’s a paucity of residue to show for it. Don Quixote tilted whimsically at windmills, waging a war for a “fairer and better world.” Are we as conservative, liberty minded voters any wiser than Quixote?
We’re often obsequiously distracted by good intentions. Daniel Webster must’ve had that in mind when he sternly warned, “It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.” Democratic hopeful, Hillary Clinton’s slogan is she wants to be “our champion.” Only the hopelessly naïve would digest such gimcrack.
It’s one thing to be distracted. It’s rarely fatal. However, being led astray, as in the past six years by an Obama Administration, has proven deadly. Many fear that Thomas Jefferson gave future generations too much credit, when he observed, “The good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves.” Shall our distraction be momentary or a way of life?
This phenomena isn’t isolated to national politics. We’ve seen it in Wyoming at the state and local level. Legislators behaving duplicitously. GOP Central Committee leaders behaving sophomorically. Natrona County Commissioners “hiding podiums” from the public. Real mature! Where are the statesman? Someone suggested, “Politicians devour them.”
In a prior column, your’s truly questioned whether we could get the president we constitutional, liberty minded citizens need. If such an event occurred, we’d have to hermetically seal them to avoid contamination. Shelf life is short. Is corruption inevitable at the political level? What are the factors that lead to shifting from serving a constituency, to self-serving behavior? Since our founding, there’ve been loyal, self-effacing public servants who’ve carved their initials on the tree of “well done good and faithful servant.” Unfortunately, there are too many listed in the “hall of shame.”
When we narrowly define corruption as “evil or wicked behavior” there’s a tendency to point our long bony finger at others we deem “more corrupt” than ourselves. We err by thinking only in terms of actions. Corruption is first a state of mind. What about omissions? Or knowing the right thing to do, and abstain from doing it? Who’s exempt from the wiles of corruption? Turning our head knowing something is wrong, and choosing to do nothing meets the threshold of corruption. Few would commit armed robbery. How about plagiarism? Lying to a colleague? Falsely “harpooning” another elected official for political advantage? Perhaps our memories are too short and standards too low. Sir Edmund Burke, the 18th Century, Dublin born conservative, sagely predicted, “Among a people generally corrupt, liberty cannot long exist.” A stern warning to our relatively new Republic.
What’s our role in this aging dilemma? First, to demonstrate the highest ethical and moral comportment in our personal and public life. In this age of “winking at corruption,” with wrong doing getting “a pass,” will continue to vex our souls, lest we stand courageously in word and deed. Next, we should be available to life in the public square with an unequivocal message of vowing to vigorously defend the constitution, liberty and the life of the unborn without compromise or reservation. Former House member, Casper resident, Bob Brechtel personified that profile. A steadfast voice sorely missed. Finally, not returning scoundrels to office. Returning them hastens their slide to political corruption under the guise of “continuing to serve their constituency.” Eventually, self-serving politicians obnubilate their role of serving. Unbridled concupiscence for personal gain expands, with an inverse relationship to serve their constituency. There’s a reason career politicians leave office with bulging waistlines and wallets. Cronyism and kleptocracy reign.
We’ll need increased patriotic participation in the public arena. A towering moral problem of our time has an antidote. Let’s cancel the lease on political apparatus, banality and apathy. Civility required-but only unvarnished truth spoken. Being indefatigable in doing what’s right; opposing those who opt to do otherwise, and simultaneously looking to Him, Who holds our future. It’s our duty. We up to it? What do you think?
Mike Pyatt is a Natrona County resident. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org