Monthly Archives: July 2010

Politics in Canada: On the hustings…Saturday, July 24, 2010

A tale of two citizens

Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement is spending his summer recess saving lives, apparently. Saturday night, he jumped fully clothed into the Muskoka River near his home in Port Sydney, Ontario, to resue a female swimmer in trouble while other members of his family went downstream to get her out.

Clement told Postmedia News shortly after the daring rescue that he was finishing dinner at about 7:30 p.m. with his family when someone began frantically banging on the door of his Port Sydney, Ont., home, located about 200 kilometres north of Toronto.

“This young woman was just hysterical,” said Clement. “She was screaming and she said her friend is drowning.”

Clement said he rushed to the edge of the river, along with his wife and father-in-law, where some of the woman’s friends were on the rocks by the shore screaming.

“I could see the woman, Jennifer, in the water and she was quite a far ways down, so I jumped in right away with my clothes on — just dove into the water and started swimming,” he said.

A number of other people jumped in after Clement to help.

At that point the Toronto woman realized that if she stayed on her back, she could float down the river and remain buoyant, then people could catch up to her.

The MP’s wife and father-in-law caught up to her and put a life-jacket they had with them onto the woman before pulling her up on to the shore.

“I was talking to Jennifer, trying to keep her talking, get her clothes on, get her warmed up, make sure she wasn’t going into shock,” said Clement.

“Then one of her friends just sort of laid down and you could tell he was going into shock — he was in the water before with us. Then we rushed over to him and got some warm clothes on him, kept him talking, kept him conscious.”

The paramedics arrived, and Clement went back home with his family.

“My chest is sore, my arms are sore and I’m quite tired, but anyway, I’m hanging in there,” he said. “There was a whole bunch of us out there. It really was a community effort.”

In other news, Michael Ignatieff, pretender to the Liberal government throne, lived dangerously in Papineau, Quebec:

Ignatieff sitting on a bicycleEveryone who cares enough about politics to read this blog knows that there are certain things that a cautious politician does not do.

A cautious politician does not take unscripted questions when the cameras are rolling.

A cautious politician does not ride a bicycle, when there is a risk of falling off and landing on the front page of the newspaper.

A cautious politician does not give high-fives to kids who are old enough to say the darndest things, in front of a gauntlet of reporters.

Well, let the word go out from this blog that Michael Ignatieff is not — I say, not — a cautious politician. He did all these things (and more!) in Montreal yesterday.

My. Throw caution to the winds.

Snippets from the aethernet: Peer Review

A noted anthropogenic climate change advocate, Stephen Schneider, of Stanford University, recently passed away, somewhat unexpectedly. There are many blogs currently debating the measure of the man and the science he advocated, which I won’t go into here.

But one of the many topics surrounding “climate change” has been the public’s focus on the concept of “peer review”, as a measure of the “worth” of a scientific publication. Indeed, its become very much a false canard in the lay press to somehow validate particular positions of the status of AGW theory. Those in science with a history in it, know it to be quite something else, of course (including me, as reviewer at one time), and understand that it is not at all what it seems, or what the public wants to accept it to be.

Out of a general discussion concerning the release of computer code from scientific research that emerged from an anecdotal commentary about Schneider at Wattsupwiththat, comes this prescient observation from semi-anonymous Kate on the true character of “peer-review”:

Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. The mistake is to have thought that peer review was anything more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability — not the validity — of a new finding.

The big lie is to portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. The system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.

It would be good for “Kate” to step up and take proper credit – this is a worthy comment that many will trade on. It should be clearly hers.

Every lay journalist should take this to heart – this is the emperor without clothes – the naked truth about peer review…

The rot in the soft underbelly of Liberalism -update 2

Yes, context is everything.

Update 2:
What does it take for the US federal government, Barack Obama and the Democratic congress specifically, to acknowledge a problem and move to solve it? Suing the Arizona legislature for enacting enabling legislation is hardly addressing the issue. Democratic laissez-faire is destroying America. Watch:

Update:
Arizona governor Jan Brewer has raised the stakes in her border war with Obama, with a new TV ad…

and the text of a letter sent to Obama as a follow-up to their meeting
June 3, 2010, to discuss the border issue:

Text of Letter from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to President Obama, as provided by her office

June 23, 2010

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for the opportunity to visit with you in person during my recent trip to Washington, D.C. As you know, the issue of border security is foremost in the thoughts of many Arizonans and Americans alike, and I appreciated the chance to personally relate to you my concerns and outline my proposed solutions.

Mr. President, the need for action to secure Arizona’s border could not be clearer. Recently, my office received a number of calls from constituents concerned at reports of new sign postings in interior counties of Arizona warning residents not to access federal lands due to criminal activity associated with the border. These warnings signal to some that we have handed over portions of our border areas to illegal immigrants and drug traffickers. This is unacceptable.

Instead of warning Americans to stay out of parts of our own country, we ought to be warning international lawbreakers that they will be detained and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We ought to be establishing measures to ensure that illegal traffic of any sort is kept to an absolute minimum, and that Americans are safe and secure within our own borders.

When we visited, you committed to present details, within two weeks of our meeting, regarding your plans to commit National Guard troops to the Arizona border and expend $500 million in additional funds on border security matters. You also discussed sending members of your senior staff to Arizona to discuss your plans. While I am pleased the 28th has been set for a meeting time and we have reviewed a copy of the Department of Homeland Security’s “Southwest Border Next Steps” Press Release, I am still awaiting details on National Guard deployments and how the proposed additional border security funding will specifically affect Arizona (and the other Border States).

As I mentioned to you on June 3rd, it is very difficult to have much of a dialogue without specific details regarding your proposals. I strongly urge you to request your staff provide us with missing details of your proposals prior to the meeting on the 28th.

While we await the specific details of your border security plans, I wanted to take the time to reemphasize some of what I shared with you and respond further to some of what we discussed. In essence, I have proposed a four-point Border Surge strategy, as outlined in my recent letter to Senator Charles Schumer, summarized as follows:

1. National Guard Personnel and Aviation

I believe a significant number of troops operating with a legitimate mission set is an essential part of any strategy to secure the border. I appreciate your commitment of 1,200 troops and the promise that Arizona would receive the largest contingent. I am concerned, however, that more is required, such as the deployment of 6,000 personnel proposed by Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain for the entire southwestern border.
In addition, I want to make sure that these troops have legitimate missions that:
• Support federal, state and local law enforcement—all three!
• Serve as a blocking force to stop illegal crossing activities.

• Employ the troops in a way that speaks loudly to all—both north and south of the border—that the U.S. is serious about this matter.

As part of your commitment, I also hope that you order a significant increase in aviation resources supporting border security operations on the ground. After meeting and talking to various experts, I am persuaded that aviation support is critical to the effort on the ground. Any effort will fail absent the ability to coordinate ground assets from the air, particularly given the nature of much of Arizona’s border region terrain.

I respectfully ask that you give serious consideration to my May 20, 2010 correspondence, which makes a very reasonable request for a reallocation of National Guard OH-58 helicopter assets in order to make a Border Surge effective. Your support of this request can make a significant difference between a winning effort versus a losing effort.

2. Border Fence

In short Mr. President, we need to complete, reinforce and then maintain the border fence. In my April 6, 2010 letter to you I proposed inmate labor and other methods (i.e., purchasing instead of leasing equipment) as a means to bring down construction/maintenance costs.
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev lunches on cheeseburgers with Democrat US president Bareack Obama 6-24-10

I certainly support efficient and effective Ports of Entry where both American and Mexican border officials can allow legal traffic and crossings. Everywhere else along the border, though, I strongly believe we must have fencing and barriers that are both substantial and monitored if the illegal crossings are to be minimized.

3. Enforce Federal Law and Appropriately Fund the Effort

The United States must be prepared to detain, prosecute and then incarcerate convicted violators of United States laws. The current “no consequences policy” has resulted in a border security failure. I appreciate your general proposal to commit additional resources, but it is very difficult for me to comment without any details.

It is without doubt, though, that the current border policy will continue to fail the State of Arizona without additional resources committed to the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel and detention facilities; prosecution; public defense; and federal prisons.

4. Reimburse States for the Additional Burden of Illegal Immigration

As I mentioned the very first time we met last year, I must continue the calls for Arizona to be reimbursed for expenses we are forced to carry because of our porous southern border. Arizona and a few other states are at a terrible disadvantage in good times, and an even worse position during bad times, because of the additional costs of illegal immigration.

Just in terms of state prison costs, we estimate ongoing expenses at approximately $150 million to incarcerate criminal aliens. While substantial on its own, this figure does not include law enforcement, prosecution and defense costs, or the enormous societal costs of the criminal behavior of those who are not even legally entitled to be here.

We are hundreds of millions of dollars short of what we should receive to relieve the disproportionate law enforcement/jail/prison, health care and education burdens we face due to our porous southern border and rampant illegal immigration. It is simply unfair for the federal government to force Border State taxpayers to carry these burdens.

Immigration Reform

You shared with me your thoughts about the matter of immigration reform and I am grateful you listened to mine. As I mentioned in our meeting, the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” is code for “amnesty” to many in Arizona and elsewhere in our Nation.

Many Americans are still waiting for the reforms that were promised by the federal government in the 1980s when amnesty was granted to thousands of illegal immigrants. Until we establish a secure border, and reestablish trust with the public that our international borders are meaningful and important, and enforcement of federal immigration law is not an idle threat, any discussion of “comprehensive reform” is premature.

Mexico border Fence

Let’s first block illegal entry into the United States and enforce current law, and then other discussions, including immigration reform, might then, and only then, make sense to the public. I am committed to a serious discussion of legitimate reform—but not any false front for amnesty—when the federal government halts the free flow of illegal immigrants and illegal drugs across the southwestern border.

Arizona’s Law

You also shared some concerns about a “patchwork” approach to policy. This makes sense to me, but the failure of the federal government has driven frustration levels to the point that tolerating the status quo is no longer acceptable for Arizona. From my perspective, the single most significant factor behind the passage this year of SB 1070 and HB 2162 (the follow-up bill with amendments to SB 1070) was the frustration of Arizona elected officials, and the public we serve, regarding the failure of the federal government over the years to effectively address the problem of illegal immigration.

The growing concerns over spillover violence, the increased awareness of kidnappings, the spread of drop houses in neighborhoods throughout metropolitan areas, the scourge of the drug trade and the oppressive financial burdens posed by illegal immigration—burdens even more difficult to shoulder in this economic downturn—all contributed to accelerating the public’s frustration.

I am 100% committed to fair and just enforcement of the new Arizona law. I have made it clear that civil rights will not be compromised. The first step has been educating and training law enforcement, as well as the public, on the details of the law—a step I have already ordered in Arizona.

Instead of any discussion about suing Arizona and not cooperating with the efforts of local Arizona law enforcement to address illegal immigration, the federal government should reassure Arizona (and other states) that securing the border and enforcing federal immigration laws are duties to which the federal government will make a renewed and sincere commitment.

When the public sees consistent evidence of federal commitment, I am convinced the demand for state actions will wane. State and local governments have plenty to do and will be happy to stay out of border security and immigration law enforcement—along with the expenses of such work—if the federal government takes a firm and effective grip on the problem.

Conclusion

In closing, I want to assure you that I am looking to develop a solution, not have a standoff, with you and the federal government. Illegal immigration is a serious problem and I am sincerely committed to seeing something done to curb it.

The real challenges at hand are about violent crime, huge taxpayer burdens, the rule of law and ensuring that our southern border does not become an open door for radical terrorists. Commerce with other countries is important to me and Arizonans—I truly want a vibrant and positive relationship with Sonora, other Mexican States and the rest of the world. Federal immigration law, however, must be honored and enforced, and our border must represent an effective means to help ensure our sovereignty and security.

I remain eager to receive the specific details of your proposals and to have the follow-up meeting with your senior staff. It is disappointing that we are such a short time away from the meeting and Arizona and the other Border States still are awaiting the specific details of what you are proposing. There is still time, however, to ensure the meeting next week is productive.
Finally, I want to re-extend the invitation I made to you to come to Arizona yourself, visit with families living along the southwestern border and see the situation firsthand. My prior visits to the border and the air survey of the Cochise County region have been very important to shaping my perspectives and thinking. Governor Richardson joined me for one trip and I believe you would also benefit from such an experience.

And when you do come, lunch is on me!
Yours in service to the great state of Arizona,
Janice K. Brewer
Governor

A second letter was sent to Senator Chuck Schumer (NY,Dem), who publically chastised Brewer for the Arizona immigration law SB1070:

Full text of Gov. Brewer’s letter to Sen. Chuck Schumer, as provided by Brewer’s office
Dear Senator Schumer:

I appreciate your interest in helping us secure our border and recognizing my duty as Governor to address the public security concerns of Arizonans.

Arizona’s border regions, extending into metropolitan Phoenix and Tucson, have become increasingly lawless because the federal government has not effectively controlled our international border and enforced its immigration laws. The federal government’s policy of securing the border in the El Paso and San Diego areas has turned Arizona into the superhighway of illegal drug and human smuggling activity. The City of Phoenix has earned the dubious distinction of being the kidnapping capital of the United States, ranking only second behind Mexico City in the world. Busts of drop houses, where illegal immigrants are often held for ransom and otherwise severely abused, are not uncommon occurrences in some Arizona neighborhoods.

Given these circumstances, I am sure you can understand that waiting a year or more based on another federal promise of getting serious this time is not an option for Arizona. As has been said here, calling for comprehensive immigration reform before securing the border is like asking for comprehensive energy policy reform before stopping the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is my diagnosis of the problem and the way forward. Congress and successive Administrations (both Republican and Democrat) have lost all credibility with the American people, and Arizonans in particular, regarding border security and interior enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Unfortunately, I understand that the consensus in Washington D.C. is that nothing will be done legislatively on immigration this year and any promises of action for the rest of the year are part of some national political strategy. Neither side of the immigration debate will be fooled by that strategy. This non-action will only build the sense of alienation that Americans feel toward a federal government that won’t solve problems that affect their everyday lives. It will be more of the same “promise something, do nothing, blame someone” political spin from Washington.

How do you build credibility on immigration issues? You need to show that the federal government can do something immediately to address border security and restore interior enforcement. We do not need new federal laws, but rather action by President Obama and sufficient funding from the Congress to secure the border and enforce our current laws.

The action taken must also be significant. To that end, I would propose that the federal government adopt a “surge” strategy. The Border Surge would continue until the border is secured as demonstrated by facts on the ground and integrity is restored to our interior immigration enforcement. Thereafter, the federal government would need to keep the resources necessary on the ground to maintain a secure border and enforce its immigration laws.

What would the federal Border Surge consist of? A good place to start would be the Border Security Plan that I announced in April and the multiple requests I have sent to President Obama and his administration regarding specific, immediate actions that should be taken. I have attached those for your review.

In addition, I ask you to give another look at the ten-point border security proposal by Senators McCain and Kyl. It is based, in part, on the border security plan of the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association developed in reaction to their everyday experiences of living and working on the border and in tribute to their fellow member, the late Robert Krentz, who was killed on his ranch earlier this year.

In summary, I would highlight the following four categories of actions that would prove very helpful to the State of Arizona in the proposed Border Surge:

1. Send the National Guard troops back to the border and increase the number of Border Patrol agents. The bi-partisan group of border governors requested the redeployment of the National Guard over a year ago. Then-Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano believed the National Guard was very helpful on the border under Operation Jump Start and unsuccessfully fought the Bush Administration when they were removed. Border governors renewed their joint request in April of this year. A particular need that has been identified is for more aerial support. My border security plan announced last month has redeployed Arizona’s very limited aerial resources to the border regions, and I have asked for additional support. I am happy to hear the President recently recognize that our border challenges require a National Guard response. However, I am not satisfied with the lack of specifics in his proposal. I hope to hear more when I meet with him today.

2. Complete a real border fence. The President’s proposed budget provides no funds for completion of the border fence. Arizona’s problem was caused in large part by the federal strategy of building a border fence only in the El Paso and San Diego areas in the 1990s. The construction and continual repair of a secure, and complete, border fence has to be part of the solution. The State of Arizona stands ready to assist in this effort. We have state prisons near the border and will supply inmate labor to build these fences in a cost-effective manner.

3. Fund federal agencies to be able to enforce current immigration laws. The McCain-Kyl Plan has a whole series of proposals to increase resources to under-manned and under-coordinated federal agencies. These proposals include funding additional Border Patrol stations in the Tucson Sector, increasing aerial assets along the border, and improving real-time radio/electronic communications capability among the different federal agencies and with state and local law enforcement agencies. Congress should also ensure adequate funding is appropriated to meet detention, processing, prosecution and other costs that result from a legitimate commitment to securing the border and enforcing federal immigration laws.

4. Reimburse Border States for costs related to the federal government’s failure to secure the border. For example, Congress has failed to reimburse the States and localities for their costs of incarcerating criminal aliens under the existing State Criminal Alien Assistance Program. The State of Arizona and localities spend upwards of $150 million per year for criminal aliens in our prisons and jails. Another example is the burden on our county sheriffs dealing with all this drug and human smuggling activity. The federal government should fully fund the existing Operation Stonegarden, a program that provides funding to border law enforcement agencies. Senators McCain and Kyl have proposed increasing federal funding by $40 million for a total of $100 million.

As you know, problems do not wait for when it is politically convenient to address them. When I assumed office over a year ago, Arizona faced the worst budget deficit in the nation on a per capita basis. I proposed, and the Arizona Legislature passed, a budget that made many painful cuts. The State of Arizona has reduced its workforce by over 10 percent and cut over $2 billion out of roughly a $10 billion budget. State employees, including myself, are taking a 5% pay cut to balance the state budget. And on May 18, Arizona voters overwhelmingly approved increasing the state sales tax by 1% for three years to support education, public safety and heath needs.

Arizonans, and I believe all Americans, expect their leaders to make the tough calls whether on the budget or on securing our border. If the federal government won’t secure the border, the State of Arizona will step in to complement federal efforts in a constitutional manner and protect the security of its citizens.

I believe the Border Surge strategy is the only way forward. Everyone agrees that our border is broken. Let’s do something. I sincerely desire to work with the Arizona delegation, you and your colleagues in Congress and the Obama administration on this strategy.

Sincerely,

Janice K. Brewer, Governor

The US federal government intends to try and take Arizona to court over their popular “immigration” bill, outlined below.

h/t Hotair

Background:

Arizona’s new immigration law

Senate Bill SB1070
Senate Fact Sheet

• Prohibits state, city or county officials from limiting or restricting “the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law” and allows an Arizona resident to sue an official or agency that adopts or implements a policy that does so. The bill contains a “loser pays” provision meant to deter frivolous lawsuits.

• Requires law enforcement to make a reasonable attempt “when practicable” to determine the immigration status of a person if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is in the U.S. illegally. Officers do not have to do so “if the determination may hinder or obstruct an investigation.”

• Makes it a state crime to be an illegal immigrant by creating a state charge of “willful failure to complete or carry an alien-registration document.”

• Makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to work or solicit work in Arizona.

• Makes it a crime to pick up a day laborer for work if the vehicle impedes traffic and also makes a day laborer subject to criminal charges if he or she is picked up and the vehicle involved impedes traffic.

• Makes it a crime to conceal, harbor or shield an illegal immigrant if the person knows or recklessly disregards the immigrant’s legal status. It does create a legal defense for someone providing emergency, public-safety or public-health services to illegal immigrants.

• Allows law-enforcement officials to arrest a person without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe the person has committed a public offense that makes him or her removable from the U.S.

• Requires employers to keep E-Verify records of employees’ eligibility.

• Reiterates Arizona’s intent to not comply with the Real ID Act of 2005, including the use of a radio-frequency ID chip.

Federal authorities in Arizona are filing more drug-trafficing cases

Arizona governor signs immigration law; foes promise fight

A carefully crafted immigration law in Arizona

A Smoking Gun: Coverage Of Arizona Immigration Law Exposes MSM Bias

ABC, CBS and NBC rip Arizona’s immigration law.

Gallup on the Arizona law

Rassmussen on the Arizona law

Pennsylvania is poised to enact similar legislation.

[h/t]

Codevilla: America’s Ruling Class … and the Perils of Revolution

[Editor's note: This article is currently making the rounds of the conservative blog circuit. This is a long read, and definitely thought-provoking.... Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.]

America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution

By Angelo M. Codevilla, from the July 2010 – August 2010 issue, American Spectator

As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors’ “toxic assets” was the only alternative to the U.S. economy’s “systemic collapse.” In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets’ nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.

When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term “political class” came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the “ruling class.” And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.

Although after the election of 2008 most Republican office holders argued against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, against the subsequent bailouts of the auto industry, against the several “stimulus” bills and further summary expansions of government power to benefit clients of government at the expense of ordinary citizens, the American people had every reason to believe that many Republican politicians were doing so simply by the logic of partisan opposition. After all, Republicans had been happy enough to approve of similar things under Republican administrations. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government’s agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to. Sen. Orrin Hatch continued dreaming of being Ted Kennedy, while Lindsey Graham set aside what is true or false about “global warming” for the sake of getting on the right side of history. No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class’s continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it.

Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all. So was “social engineering.” Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday’s upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.

Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America’s ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

The Political Divide

Important as they are, our political divisions are the iceberg’s tip. When pollsters ask the American people whether they are likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the next presidential election, Republicans win growing pluralities. But whenever pollsters add the preferences “undecided,” “none of the above,” or “tea party,” these win handily, the Democrats come in second, and the Republicans trail far behind. That is because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans tell pollsters that Republican officeholders represent them well. Hence officeholders, Democrats and Republicans, gladden the hearts of some one-third of the electorate — most Democratic voters, plus a few Republicans. This means that Democratic politicians are the ruling class’s prime legitimate representatives and that because Republican politicians are supported by only a fourth of their voters while the rest vote for them reluctantly, most are aspirants for a junior role in the ruling class. In short, the ruling class has a party, the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans — a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents — lack a vehicle in electoral politics.

Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled. Whereas in 1968 Governor George Wallace’s taunt “there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference” between the Republican and Democratic parties resonated with only 13.5 percent of the American people, in 1992 Ross Perot became a serious contender for the presidency (at one point he was favored by 39 percent of Americans vs. 31 percent for G.H.W. Bush and 25 percent for Clinton) simply by speaking ill of the ruling class. Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans’ conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.

While Europeans are accustomed to being ruled by presumed betters whom they distrust, the American people’s realization of being ruled like Europeans shocked this country into well nigh revolutionary attitudes. But only the realization was new. The ruling class had sunk deep roots in America over decades before 2008. Machiavelli compares serious political diseases to the Aetolian fevers — easy to treat early on while they are difficult to discern, but virtually untreatable by the time they become obvious.

Far from speculating how the political confrontation might develop between America’s regime class — relatively few people supported by no more than one-third of Americans — and a country class comprising two-thirds of the country, our task here is to understand the divisions that underlie that confrontation’s unpredictable future. More on politics below.

The Ruling Class

Who are these rulers, and by what right do they rule? How did America change from a place where people could expect to live without bowing to privileged classes to one in which, at best, they might have the chance to climb into them? What sets our ruling class apart from the rest of us?

The most widespread answers — by such as the Times’s Thomas Friedman and David Brooks — are schlock sociology. Supposedly, modern society became so complex and productive, the technical skills to run it so rare, that it called forth a new class of highly educated officials and cooperators in an ever less private sector. Similarly fanciful is Edward Goldberg’s notion that America is now ruled by a “newocracy”: a “new aristocracy who are the true beneficiaries of globalization — including the multinational manager, the technologist and the aspirational members of the meritocracy.” In fact, our ruling class grew and set itself apart from the rest of us by its connection with ever bigger government, and above all by a certain attitude.

Other explanations are counterintuitive. Wealth? The heads of the class do live in our big cities’ priciest enclaves and suburbs, from Montgomery County, Maryland, to Palo Alto, California, to Boston’s Beacon Hill as well as in opulent university towns from Princeton to Boulder. But they are no wealthier than many Texas oilmen or California farmers, or than neighbors with whom they do not associate — just as the social science and humanities class that rules universities seldom associates with physicians and physicists. Rather, regardless of where they live, their social-intellectual circle includes people in the lucrative “nonprofit” and “philanthropic” sectors and public policy. What really distinguishes these privileged people demographically is that, whether in government power directly or as officers in companies, their careers and fortunes depend on government. They vote Democrat more consistently than those who live on any of America’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Streets. These socioeconomic opposites draw their money and orientation from the same sources as the millions of teachers, consultants, and government employees in the middle ranks who aspire to be the former and identify morally with what they suppose to be the latter’s grievances.

Professional prominence or position will not secure a place in the class any more than mere money. In fact, it is possible to be an official of a major corporation or a member of the U.S. Supreme Court (just ask Justice Clarence Thomas), or even president (Ronald Reagan), and not be taken seriously by the ruling class. Like a fraternity, this class requires above all comity — being in with the right people, giving the required signs that one is on the right side, and joining in despising the Outs. Once an official or professional shows that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths, and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members, he can move profitably among our establishment’s parts.

If, for example, you are Laurence Tribe in 1984, Harvard professor of law, leftist pillar of the establishment, you can “write” your magnum opus by using the products of your student assistant, Ron Klain. A decade later, after Klain admits to having written some parts of the book, and the other parts are found to be verbatim or paraphrases of a book published in 1974, you can claim (perhaps correctly) that your plagiarism was “inadvertent,” and you can count on the Law School’s dean, Elena Kagan, to appoint a committee including former and future Harvard president Derek Bok that issues a secret report that “closes” the incident. Incidentally, Kagan ends up a justice of the Supreme Court. Not one of these people did their jobs: the professor did not write the book himself, the assistant plagiarized instead of researching, the dean and the committee did not hold the professor accountable, and all ended up rewarded. By contrast, for example, learned papers and distinguished careers in climatology at MIT (Richard Lindzen) or UVA (S. Fred Singer) are not enough for their questions about “global warming” to be taken seriously. For our ruling class, identity always trumps.

Much less does membership in the ruling class depend on high academic achievement. To see something closer to an academic meritocracy consider France, where elected officials have little power, a vast bureaucracy explicitly controls details from how babies are raised to how to make cheese, and people get into and advance in that bureaucracy strictly by competitive exams. Hence for good or ill, France’s ruling class are bright people — certifiably. Not ours. But didn’t ours go to Harvard and Princeton and Stanford? Didn’t most of them get good grades? Yes. But while getting into the Ecole Nationale d’Administration or the Ecole Polytechnique or the dozens of other entry points to France’s ruling class requires outperforming others in blindly graded exams, and graduating from such places requires passing exams that many fail, getting into America’s “top schools” is less a matter of passing exams than of showing up with acceptable grades and an attractive social profile. American secondary schools are generous with their As. Since the 1970s, it has been virtually impossible to flunk out of American colleges. And it is an open secret that “the best” colleges require the least work and give out the highest grade point averages. No, our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in. The most successful neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records. Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection. But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority.

The Faith

Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that “we” are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation’s paradigm that “all men are created equal”?

The notion of human equality was always a hard sell, because experience teaches us that we are so unequal in so many ways, and because making one’s self superior is so tempting that Lincoln called it “the old serpent, you work I’ll eat.” But human equality made sense to our Founding generation because they believed that all men are made in the image and likeness of God, because they were yearning for equal treatment under British law, or because they had read John Locke.

It did not take long for their paradigm to be challenged by interest and by “science.” By the 1820s, as J. C. Calhoun was reading in the best London journals that different breeds of animals and plants produce inferior or superior results, slave owners were citing the Negroes’ deficiencies to argue that they should remain slaves indefinitely. Lots of others were reading Ludwig Feuerbach’s rendition of Hegelian philosophy, according to which biblical injunctions reflect the fantasies of alienated human beings or, in the young Karl Marx’s formulation, that ethical thought is “superstructural” to material reality. By 1853, when Sen. John Pettit of Ohio called “all men are created equal” “a self-evident lie,” much of America’s educated class had already absorbed the “scientific” notion (which Darwin only popularized) that man is the product of chance mutation and natural selection of the fittest. Accordingly, by nature, superior men subdue inferior ones as they subdue lower beings or try to improve them as they please. Hence while it pleased the abolitionists to believe in freeing Negroes and improving them, it also pleased them to believe that Southerners had to be punished and reconstructed by force. As the 19th century ended, the educated class’s religious fervor turned to social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers.

Thus began the Progressive Era. When Woodrow Wilson in 1914 was asked “can’t you let anything alone?” he answered with, “I let everything alone that you can show me is not itself moving in the wrong direction, but I am not going to let those things alone that I see are going down-hill.” Wilson spoke for the thousands of well-off Americans who patronized the spas at places like Chautauqua and Lake Mohonk. By such upper-middle-class waters, progressives who imagined themselves the world’s examples and the world’s reformers dreamt big dreams of establishing order, justice, and peace at home and abroad. Neither were they shy about their desire for power. Wilson was the first American statesman to argue that the Founders had done badly by depriving the U.S. government of the power to reshape American society. Nor was Wilson the last to invade a foreign country (Mexico) to “teach [them] to elect good men.”

World War I and the chaos at home and abroad that followed it discredited the Progressives in the American people’s eyes. Their international schemes had brought blood and promised more. Their domestic management had not improved Americans’ lives, but given them a taste of arbitrary government, including Prohibition. The Progressives, for their part, found it fulfilling to attribute the failure of their schemes to the American people’s backwardness, to something deeply wrong with America. The American people had failed them because democracy in its American form perpetuated the worst in humanity. Thus Progressives began to look down on the masses, to look on themselves as the vanguard, and to look abroad for examples to emulate.

The cultural divide between the “educated class” and the rest of the country opened in the interwar years. Some Progressives joined the “vanguard of the proletariat,” the Communist Party. Many more were deeply sympathetic to Soviet Russia, as they were to Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Not just the Nation, but also the New York Times and National Geographic found much to be imitated in these regimes because they promised energetically to transcend their peoples’ ways and to build “the new man.” Above all, our educated class was bitter about America. In 1925 the American Civil Liberties Union sponsored a legal challenge to a Tennessee law that required teaching the biblical account of creation. The ensuing trial, radio broadcast nationally, as well as the subsequent hit movie Inherit the Wind, were the occasion for what one might have called the Chautauqua class to drive home the point that Americans who believed in the Bible were willful ignoramuses. As World War II approached, some American Progressives supported the Soviet Union (and its ally, Nazi Germany) and others Great Britain and France. But Progressives agreed on one thing: the approaching war should be blamed on the majority of Americans, because they had refused to lead the League of Nations. Darryl Zanuck produced the critically acclaimed movie [Woodrow] Wilson featuring Cedric Hardwicke as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who allegedly brought on the war by appealing to American narrow-mindedness against Wilson’s benevolent genius.

Franklin Roosevelt brought the Chautauqua class into his administration and began the process that turned them into rulers. FDR described America’s problems in technocratic terms. America’s problems would be fixed by a “brain trust” (picked by him). His New Deal’s solutions — the alphabet-soup “independent” agencies that have run America ever since — turned many Progressives into powerful bureaucrats and then into lobbyists. As the saying goes, they came to Washington to do good, and stayed to do well.

As their number and sense of importance grew, so did their distaste for common Americans. Believing itself “scientific,” this Progressive class sought to explain its differences from its neighbors in “scientific” terms. The most elaborate of these attempts was Theodor Adorno’s widely acclaimed The Authoritarian Personality (1948). It invented a set of criteria by which to define personality traits, ranked these traits and their intensity in any given person on what it called the “F scale” (F for fascist), interviewed hundreds of Americans, and concluded that most who were not liberal Democrats were latent fascists. This way of thinking about non-Progressives filtered down to college curricula. In 1963-64 for example, I was assigned Herbert McCloskey’s Conservatism and Personality (1958) at Rutgers’s Eagleton Institute of Politics as a paradigm of methodological correctness. The author had defined conservatism in terms of answers to certain questions, had defined a number of personality disorders in terms of other questions, and run a survey that proved “scientifically” that conservatives were maladjusted ne’er-do-well ignoramuses. (My class project, titled “Liberalism and Personality,” following the same methodology, proved just as scientifically that liberals suffered from the very same social diseases, and even more amusing ones.)

The point is this: though not one in a thousand of today’s bipartisan ruling class ever heard of Adorno or McCloskey, much less can explain the Feuerbachian-Marxist notion that human judgments are “epiphenomenal” products of spiritual or material alienation, the notion that the common people’s words are, like grunts, mere signs of pain, pleasure, and frustration, is now axiomatic among our ruling class. They absorbed it osmotically, second — or thirdhand, from their education and from companions. Truly, after Barack Obama described his opponents’ clinging to “God and guns” as a characteristic of inferior Americans, he justified himself by pointing out he had said “what everybody knows is true.” Confident “knowledge” that “some of us, the ones who matter,” have grasped truths that the common herd cannot, truths that direct us, truths the grasping of which entitles us to discount what the ruled say and to presume what they mean, made our Progressives into a class long before they took power.

The Agenda: Power

Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a “machine,” that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members. Such parties often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods and enhance mightily the upper levels’ wealth. Because this is so, whatever else such parties might accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges — civic as well as economic — to the party’s clients, directly or indirectly. This, incidentally, is close to Aristotle’s view of democracy. Hence our ruling class’s standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government — meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc. Hence more power for the ruling class has been our ruling class’s solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming. A priori, one might wonder whether enriching and empowering individuals of a certain kind can make Americans kinder and gentler, much less control the weather. But there can be no doubt that such power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it. Let us now look at what this means in our time.

Dependence Economics

By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty. While the economic value of anything depends on sellers and buyers agreeing on that value as civil equals in the absence of force, modern government is about nothing if not tampering with civil equality. By endowing some in society with power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices — even to buy in the first place — modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Thus if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu. Eventually, pretending forcibly that valueless things have value dilutes the currency’s value for all.

Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally. For example, the health care bill of 2010 takes more than 2,700 pages to make sure not just that some states will be treated differently from others because their senators offered key political support, but more importantly to codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits (e.g., public employee unions and auto workers) and who would pass what indirect taxes onto the general public. The financial regulation bill of 2010, far from setting univocal rules for the entire financial industry in few words, spends some 3,000 pages (at this writing) tilting the field exquisitely toward some and away from others. Even more significantly, these and other products of Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses empower countless boards and commissions arbitrarily to protect some persons and companies, while ruining others. Thus in 2008 the Republican administration first bailed out Bear Stearns, then let Lehman Brothers sink in the ensuing panic, but then rescued Goldman Sachs by infusing cash into its principal debtor, AIG. Then, its Democratic successor used similarly naked discretionary power (and money appropriated for another purpose) to give major stakes in the auto industry to labor unions that support it. Nowadays, the members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws. They don’t have to. Because modern laws are primarily grants of discretion, all anybody has to know about them is whom they empower.

By making economic rules dependent on discretion, our bipartisan ruling class teaches that prosperity is to be bought with the coin of political support. Thus in the 1990s and 2000s, as Democrats and Republicans forced banks to make loans for houses to people and at rates they would not otherwise have considered, builders and investors had every reason to make as much money as they could from the ensuing inflation of housing prices. When the bubble burst, only those connected with the ruling class at the bottom and at the top were bailed out. Similarly, by taxing the use of carbon fuels and subsidizing “alternative energy,” our ruling class created arguably the world’s biggest opportunity for making money out of things that few if any would buy absent its intervention. The ethanol industry and its ensuing diversions of wealth exist exclusively because of subsidies. The prospect of legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions and allot certain amounts to certain companies set off a feeding frenzy among large companies to show support for a “green agenda,” because such allotments would be worth tens of billions of dollars. That is why companies hired some 2,500 lobbyists in 2009 to deepen their involvement in “climate change.” At the very least, such involvement profits them by making them into privileged collectors of carbon taxes. Any “green jobs” thus created are by definition creatures of subsidies — that is, of privilege. What effect creating such privileges may have on “global warming” is debatable. But it surely increases the number of people dependent on the ruling class, and teaches Americans that satisfying that class is a surer way of making a living than producing goods and services that people want to buy.

Beyond patronage, picking economic winners and losers redirects the American people’s energies to tasks that the political class deems more worthy than what Americans choose for themselves. John Kenneth Galbraith’s characterization of America as “private wealth amidst public squalor” (The Affluent Society, 1958) has ever encapsulated our best and brightest’s complaint: left to themselves, Americans use land inefficiently in suburbs and exurbs, making it necessary to use energy to transport them to jobs and shopping. Americans drive big cars, eat lots of meat as well as other unhealthy things, and go to the doctor whenever they feel like it. Americans think it justice to spend the money they earn to satisfy their private desires even though the ruling class knows that justice lies in improving the community and the planet. The ruling class knows that Americans must learn to live more densely and close to work, that they must drive smaller cars and change their lives to use less energy, that their dietary habits must improve, that they must accept limits in how much medical care they get, that they must divert more of their money to support people, cultural enterprises, and plans for the planet that the ruling class deems worthier. So, ever-greater taxes and intrusive regulations are the main wrenches by which the American people can be improved (and, yes, by which the ruling class feeds and grows).

The 2010 medical law is a template for the ruling class’s economic modus operandi: the government taxes citizens to pay for medical care and requires citizens to purchase health insurance. The money thus taken and directed is money that the citizens themselves might have used to pay for medical care. In exchange for the money, the government promises to provide care through its “system.” But then all the boards, commissions, guidelines, procedures, and “best practices” that constitute “the system” become the arbiters of what any citizen ends up getting. The citizen might end up dissatisfied with what “the system” offers. But when he gave up his money, he gave up the power to choose, and became dependent on all the boards and commissions that his money also pays for and that raise the cost ofcare. Similarly, in 2008 the House Ways and Means Committee began considering a plan to force citizens who own Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to transfer those funds into government-run “guaranteed retirement accounts.” If the government may force citizens to buy health insurance, by what logic can it not force them to trade private ownership and control of retirement money for a guarantee as sound as the government itself? Is it not clear that the government knows more about managing retirement income than individuals?

Who Depends on Whom?

In Congressional Government (1885) Woodrow Wilson left no doubt: the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from meeting the country’s needs by enumerating rights that the government may not infringe. (“Congress shall make no law…” says the First Amendment, typically.) Our electoral system, based on single member districts, empowers individual voters at the expense of “responsible parties.” Hence the ruling class’s perpetual agenda has been to diminish the role of the citizenry’s elected representatives, enhancing that of party leaders as well as of groups willing to partner in the government’s plans, and to craft a “living” Constitution in which restrictions on government give way to “positive rights” — meaning charters of government power.

Consider representation. Following Wilson, American Progressives have always wanted to turn the U.S. Congress from the role defined by James Madison’s Federalist #10, “refine and enlarge the public’s view,” to something like the British Parliament, which ratifies government actions. Although Britain’s electoral system — like ours, single members elected in historic districts by plurality vote — had made members of Parliament responsive to their constituents in ancient times, by Wilson’s time the growing importance of parties made MPs beholden to party leaders. Hence whoever controls the majority party controls both Parliament and the government.

In America, the process by which party has become (almost) as important began with the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision in Baker v. Carr which, by setting the single standard “one man, one vote” for congressional districts, ended up legalizing the practice of “gerrymandering,” concentrating the opposition party’s voters into as few districts as possible while placing one’s own voters into as many as possible likely to yield victories. Republican and Democratic state legislatures have gerrymandered for a half century. That is why today’s Congress consists more and more of persons who represent their respective party establishments — not nearly as much as in Britain, but heading in that direction. Once districts are gerrymandered “safe” for one party or another, the voters therein count less because party leaders can count more on elected legislators to toe the party line.

To the extent party leaders do not have to worry about voters, they can choose privileged interlocutors, representing those in society whom they find most amenable. In America ever more since the 1930s — elsewhere in the world this practice is ubiquitous and long-standing — government has designated certain individuals, companies, and organizations within each of society’s sectors as (junior) partners in elaborating laws and administrative rules for those sectors. The government empowers the persons it has chosen over those not chosen, deems them the sector’s true representatives, and rewards them. They become part of the ruling class.

Thus in 2009-10 the American Medical Association (AMA) strongly supported the new medical care law, which the administration touted as having the support of “the doctors” even though the vast majority of America’s 975,000 physicians opposed it. Those who run the AMA, however, have a government contract as exclusive providers of the codes by which physicians and hospitals bill the government for their services. The millions of dollars that flow thereby to the AMA’s officers keep them in line, while the impracticality of doing without the billing codes tamps down rebellion in the doctor ranks. When the administration wanted to bolster its case that the state of Arizona’s enforcement of federal immigration laws was offensive to Hispanics, the National Association of Chiefs of Police — whose officials depend on the administration for their salaries — issued a statement that the laws would endanger all Americans by raising Hispanics’ animosity. This reflected conversations with the administration rather than a vote of the nation’s police chiefs.

Similarly, modern labor unions are ever less bunches of workers banding together and ever more bundled under the aegis of an organization chosen jointly by employers and government. Prototypical is the Service Employees International Union, which grew spectacularly by persuading managers of government agencies as well as of publicly funded private entities that placing their employees in the SEIU would relieve them of responsibility. Not by being elected by workers’ secret ballots did the SEIU conquer workplace after workplace, but rather by such deals, or by the union presenting what it claims are cards from workers approving of representation. The union gets 2 percent of the workers’ pay, which it recycles as contributions to the Democratic Party, which it recycles in greater power over public employees. The union’s leadership is part of the ruling class’s beating heart.

The point is that a doctor, a building contractor, a janitor, or a schoolteacher counts in today’s America insofar as he is part of the hierarchy of a sector organization affiliated with the ruling class. Less and less do such persons count as voters.

Ordinary people have also gone a long way toward losing equal treatment under law. The America described in civics books, in which no one could be convicted or fined except by a jury of his peers for having violated laws passed by elected representatives, started disappearing when the New Deal inaugurated today’s administrative state — in which bureaucrats make, enforce, and adjudicate nearly all the rules. Today’s legal — administrative texts are incomprehensibly detailed and freighted with provisions crafted exquisitely to affect equal individuals unequally. The bureaucrats do not enforce the rules themselves so much as whatever “agency policy” they choose to draw from them in any given case. If you protest any “agency policy” you will be informed that it was formulated with input from “the public.” But not from the likes of you.

Disregard for the text of laws — for the dictionary meaning of words and the intentions of those who wrote them — in favor of the decider’s discretion has permeated our ruling class from the Supreme Court to the lowest local agency. Ever since Oliver Wendell Holmes argued in 1920 (Missouri v. Holland) that presidents, Congresses, and judges could not be bound by the U.S. Constitution regarding matters that the people who wrote and ratified it could not have foreseen, it has become conventional wisdom among our ruling class that they may transcend the Constitution while pretending allegiance to it. They began by stretching such constitutional terms as “interstate commerce” and “due process,” then transmuting others, e.g., “search and seizure,” into “privacy.” Thus in 1973 the Supreme Court endowed its invention of “privacy” with a “penumbra” that it deemed “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” The court gave no other constitutional reasoning, period. Perfunctory to the point of mockery, this constitutional talk was to reassure the American people that the ruling class was acting within the Constitution’s limitations. By the 1990s federal courts were invalidating amendments to state constitutions passed by referenda to secure the “positive rights” they invent, because these expressions of popular will were inconsistent with the constitution they themselves were construing.

By 2010 some in the ruling class felt confident enough to dispense with the charade. Asked what in the Constitution allows Congress and the president to force every American to purchase health insurance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi replied: “Are you kidding? Are you kidding?” No surprise then that lower court judges and bureaucrats take liberties with laws, regulations, and contracts. That is why legal words that say you are in the right avail you less in today’s America than being on the right side of the persons who decide what they want those words to mean.

As the discretionary powers of officeholders and of their informal entourages have grown, the importance of policy and of law itself is declining, citizenship is becoming vestigial, and the American people become ever more dependent.

Disaggregating and Dispiriting

The ruling class is keener to reform the American people’s family and spiritual lives than their economic and civic ones. In no other areas is the ruling class’s self-definition so definite, its contempt for opposition so patent, its Kulturkampf so open. It believes that the Christian family (and the Orthodox Jewish one too) is rooted in and perpetuates the ignorance commonly called religion, divisive social prejudices, and repressive gender roles, that it is the greatest barrier to human progress because it looks to its very particular interest — often defined as mere coherence against outsiders who most often know better. Thus the family prevents its members from playing their proper roles in social reform. Worst of all, it reproduces itself.

Since marriage is the family’s fertile seed, government at all levels, along with “mainstream” academics and media, have waged war on it. They legislate, regulate, and exhort in support not of “the family” — meaning married parents raising children — but rather of “families,” meaning mostly households based on something other than marriage. The institution of no-fault divorce diminished the distinction between cohabitation and marriage — except that husbands are held financially responsible for the children they father, while out-of-wedlock fathers are not. The tax code penalizes marriage and forces those married couples who raise their own children to subsidize “child care” for those who do not. Top Republicans and Democrats have also led society away from the very notion of marital fidelity by precept as well as by parading their affairs. For example, in 1997 the Democratic administration’s secretary of defense and the Republican Senate’s majority leader (joined by the New York Times et al.) condemned the military’s practice of punishing officers who had extramarital affairs. While the military had assumed that honoring marital vows is as fundamental to the integrity of its units as it is to that of society, consensus at the top declared that insistence on fidelity is “contrary to societal norms.” Not surprisingly, rates of marriage in America have decreased as out-of-wedlock births have increased. The biggest demographic consequence has been that about one in five of all households are women alone or with children, in which case they have about a four in 10 chance of living in poverty. Since unmarried mothers often are or expect to be clients of government services, it is not surprising that they are among the Democratic Party’s most faithful voters.

While our ruling class teaches that relationships among men, women, and children are contingent, it also insists that the relationship between each of them and the state is fundamental. That is why such as Hillary Clinton have written law review articles and books advocating a direct relationship between the government and children, effectively abolishing the presumption of parental authority. Hence whereas within living memory school nurses could not administer an aspirin to a child without the parents’ consent, the people who run America’s schools nowadays administer pregnancy tests and ship girls off to abortion clinics without the parents’ knowledge. Parents are not allowed to object to what their children are taught. But the government may and often does object to how parents raise children. The ruling class’s assumption is that what it mandates for children is correct ipso facto, while what parents do is potentially abusive. It only takes an anonymous accusation of abuse for parents to be taken away in handcuffs until they prove their innocence. Only sheer political weight (and in California, just barely) has preserved parents’ right to homeschool their children against the ruling class’s desire to accomplish what Woodrow Wilson so yearned: “to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.”

At stake are the most important questions: What is the right way for human beings to live? By what standard is anything true or good? Who gets to decide what? Implicit in Wilson’s words and explicit in our ruling class’s actions is the dismissal, as the ways of outdated “fathers,” of the answers that most Americans would give to these questions. This dismissal of the American people’s intellectual, spiritual, and moral substance is the very heart of what our ruling class is about. Its principal article of faith, its claim to the right to decide for others, is precisely that it knows things and operates by standards beyond others’ comprehension.

While the unenlightened ones believe that man is created in the image and likeness of God and that we are subject to His and to His nature’s laws, the enlightened ones know that we are products of evolution, driven by chance, the environment, and the will to primacy. While the un-enlightened are stuck with the antiquated notion that ordinary human minds can reach objective judgments about good and evil, better and worse through reason, the enlightened ones know that all such judgments are subjective and that ordinary people can no more be trusted with reason than they can with guns. Because ordinary people will pervert reason with ideology, religion, or interest, science is “science” only in the “right” hands. Consensus among the right people is the only standard of truth. Facts and logic matter only insofar as proper authority acknowledges them.

That is why the ruling class is united and adamant about nothing so much as its right to pronounce definitive, “scientific” judgment on whatever it chooses. When the government declares, and its associated press echoes that “scientists say” this or that, ordinary people — or for that matter scientists who “don’t say,” or are not part of the ruling class — lose any right to see the information that went into what “scientists say.” Thus when Virginia’s attorney general subpoenaed the data by which Professor Michael Mann had concluded, while paid by the state of Virginia, that the earth’s temperatures are rising “like a hockey stick” from millennial stability — a conclusion on which billions of dollars’ worth of decisions were made — to investigate the possibility of fraud, the University of Virginia’s faculty senate condemned any inquiry into “scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer review standards” claiming that demands for data “send a chilling message to scientists…and indeed scholars in any discipline.” The Washington Post editorialized that the attorney general’s demands for data amounted to “an assault on reason.” The fact that the “hockey stick” conclusion stands discredited and Mann and associates are on record manipulating peer review, the fact that science-by-secret-data is an oxymoron, the very distinction between truth and error, all matter far less to the ruling class than the distinction between itself and those they rule.

By identifying science and reason with themselves, our rulers delegitimize opposition. Though they cannot prevent Americans from worshiping God, they can make it as socially disabling as smoking — to be done furtively and with a bad social conscience. Though they cannot make Americans wish they were Europeans, they continue to press upon this nation of refugees from the rest of the world the notion that Americans ought to live by “world standards.” Each day, the ruling class produces new “studies” that show that one or another of Americans’ habits is in need of reform, and that those Americans most resistant to reform are pitiably, perhaps criminally, wrong. Thus does it go about disaggregating and dispiriting the ruled.

Meddling and Apologies

America’s best and brightest believe themselves qualified and duty bound to direct the lives not only of Americans but of foreigners as well. George W. Bush’s 2005 inaugural statement that America cannot be free until the whole world is free and hence that America must push and prod mankind to freedom was but an extrapolation of the sentiments of America’s Progressive class, first articulated by such as Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson and Columbia’s Nicholas Murray Butler. But while the early Progressives expected the rest of the world to follow peacefully, today’s ruling class makes decisions about war and peace at least as much forcibly to tinker with the innards of foreign bodies politic as to protect America. Indeed, they conflate the two purposes in the face of the American people’s insistence to draw a bright line between war against our enemies and peace with non-enemies in whose affairs we do not interfere. That is why, from Wilson to Kissinger, the ruling class has complained that the American people oscillate between bellicosity and “isolationism.”

Because our ruling class deems unsophisticated the American people’s perennial preference for decisive military action or none, its default solution to international threats has been to commit blood and treasure to long-term, twilight efforts to reform the world’s Vietnams, Somalias, Iraqs, and Afghanistans, believing that changing hearts and minds is the prerequisite of peace and that it knows how to change them. The apparently endless series of wars in which our ruling class has embroiled America, wars that have achieved nothing worthwhile at great cost in lives and treasure, has contributed to defining it, and to discrediting it — but not in its own eyes.

Rather, even as our ruling class has lectured, cajoled, and sometimes intruded violently to reform foreign countries in its own image, it has apologized to them for America not having matched that image — their private image. Woodrow Wilson began this double game in 1919, when he assured Europe’s peoples that America had mandated him to demand their agreement to Article X of the peace treaty (the League of Nations) and then swore to the American people that Article X was the Europeans’ non-negotiable demand. The fact that the U.S. government had seized control of transatlantic cable communications helped hide (for a while) that the League scheme was merely the American Progressives’ private dream. In our time, this double game is quotidian on the evening news. Notably, President Obama apologized to Europe because “the United States has fallen short of meeting its responsibilities” to reduce carbon emissions by taxation. But the American people never assumed such responsibility, and oppose doing so. Hence President Obama was not apologizing for anything that he or anyone he respected had done, but rather blaming his fellow Americans for not doing what he thinks they should do while glossing over the fact that the Europeans had done the taxing but not the reducing. Wilson redux.

Similarly, Obama “apologized” to Europeans because some Americans — not him and his friends — had shown “arrogance and been dismissive” toward them, and to the world because President Truman had used the atom bomb to end World War II. So President Clinton apologized to Africans because some Americans held African slaves until 1865 and others were mean to Negroes thereafter — not himself and his friends, of course. So assistant secretary of state Michael Posner apologized to Chinese diplomats for Arizona’s law that directs police to check immigration status. Republicans engage in that sort of thing as well: former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev tells us that in 1987 then vice president George H. W. Bush distanced himself from his own administration by telling him, “Reagan is a conservative, an extreme conservative. All the dummies and blockheads are with him…” This is all about a class of Americans distinguishing itself from its inferiors. It recalls the Pharisee in the Temple: “Lord, I thank thee that I am not like other men…”

In sum, our ruling class does not like the rest of America. Most of all does it dislike that so many Americans think America is substantially different from the rest of the world and like it that way. For our ruling class, however, America is a work in progress, just like the rest the world, and they are the engineers.

The Country Class

Describing America’s country class is problematic because it is so heterogeneous. It has no privileged podiums, and speaks with many voices, often inharmonious. It shares above all the desire to be rid of rulers it regards inept and haughty. It defines itself practically in terms of reflexive reaction against the rulers’ defining ideas and proclivities — e.g., ever higher taxes and expanding government, subsidizing political favorites, social engineering, approval of abortion, etc. Many want to restore a way of life largely superseded. Demographically, the country class is the other side of the ruling class’s coin: its most distinguishing characteristics are marriage, children, and religious practice. While the country class, like the ruling class, includes the professionally accomplished and the mediocre, geniuses and dolts, it is different because of its non-orientation to government and its members’ yearning to rule themselves rather than be ruled by others.

Even when members of the country class happen to be government officials or officers of major corporations, their concerns are essentially private; in their view, government owes to its people equal treatment rather than action to correct what anyone perceives as imbalance or grievance. Hence they tend to oppose special treatment, whether for corporations or for social categories. Rather than gaming government regulations, they try to stay as far from them as possible. Thus the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo, which allows the private property of some to be taken by others with better connections to government, reminded the country class that government is not its friend.

Negative orientation to privilege distinguishes the corporate officer who tries to keep his company from joining the Business Council of large corporations who have close ties with government from the fellow in the next office. The first wants the company to grow by producing. The second wants it to grow by moving to the trough. It sets apart the schoolteacher who resents the union to which he is forced to belong for putting the union’s interests above those of parents who want to choose their children’s schools. In general, the country class includes all those in stations high and low who are aghast at how relatively little honest work yields, by comparison with what just a little connection with the right bureaucracy can get you. It includes those who take the side of outsiders against insiders, of small institutions against large ones, of local government against the state or federal. The country class is convinced that big business, big government, and big finance are linked as never before and that ordinary people are more unequal than ever.

Members of the country class who want to rise in their profession through sheer competence try at once to avoid the ruling class’s rituals while guarding against infringing its prejudices. Averse to wheedling, they tend to think that exams should play a major role in getting or advancing in jobs, that records of performance — including academic ones — should be matters of public record, and that professional disputes should be settled by open argument. For such people, the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Ricci, upholding the right of firefighters to be promoted according to the results of a professional exam, revived the hope that competence may sometimes still trump political connections.

Nothing has set the country class apart, defined it, made it conscious of itself, given it whatever coherence it has, so much as the ruling class’s insistence that people other than themselves are intellectually and hence otherwise humanly inferior. Persons who were brought up to believe themselves as worthy as anyone, who manage their own lives to their own satisfaction, naturally resent politicians of both parties who say that the issues of modern life are too complex for any but themselves. Most are insulted by the ruling class’s dismissal of opposition as mere “anger and frustration” — an imputation of stupidity — while others just scoff at the claim that the ruling class’s bureaucratic language demonstrates superior intelligence. A few ask the fundamental question: Since when and by what right does intelligence trump human equality? Moreover, if the politicians are so smart, why have they made life worse?

The country class actually believes that America’s ways are superior to the rest of the world’s, and regards most of mankind as less free, less prosperous, and less virtuous. Thus while it delights in croissants and thinks Toyota’s factory methods are worth imitating, it dislikes the idea of adhering to “world standards.” This class also takes part in the U.S. armed forces body and soul: nearly all the enlisted, non-commissioned officers and officers under flag rank belong to this class in every measurable way. Few vote for the Democratic Party. You do not doubt that you are amidst the country class rather than with the ruling class when the American flag passes by or “God Bless America” is sung after seven innings of baseball, and most people show reverence. The same people wince at the National Football League’s plaintive renditions of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Unlike the ruling class, the country class does not share a single intellectual orthodoxy, set of tastes, or ideal lifestyle. Its different sectors draw their notions of human equality from different sources: Christians and Jews believe it is God’s law. Libertarians assert it from Hobbesian and Darwinist bases. Many consider equality the foundation of Americanism. Others just hate snobs. Some parts of the country class now follow the stars and the music out of Nashville, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri — entertainment complexes larger than Hollywood’s — because since the 1970s most of Hollywood’s products have appealed more to the mores of the ruling class and its underclass clients than to those of large percentages of Americans. The same goes for “popular music” and television. For some in the country class Christian radio and TV are the lodestone of sociopolitical taste, while the very secular Fox News serves the same purpose for others. While symphonies and opera houses around the country, as well as the stations that broadcast them, are firmly in the ruling class’s hands, a considerable part of the country class appreciates these things for their own sake. By that very token, the country class’s characteristic cultural venture — the homeschool movement — stresses the classics across the board in science, literature, music, and history even as the ruling class abandons them.

Congruent Agendas?

Each of the country class’s diverse parts has its own agenda, which flows from the peculiar ways in which the ruling class impacts its concerns. Independent businesspeople are naturally more sensitive to the growth of privileged relations between government and their competitors. Persons who would like to lead their community rue the advantages that Democratic and Republican party establishments are accruing. Parents of young children and young women anxious about marriage worry that cultural directives from on high are dispelling their dreams. The faithful to God sense persecution. All resent higher taxes and loss of freedom. More and more realize that their own agenda’s advancement requires concerting resistance to the ruling class across the board.

Not being at the table when government makes the rules about how you must run your business, knowing that you will be required to pay more, work harder, and show deference for the privilege of making less money, is the independent businessman’s nightmare. But what to do about it? In our time the interpenetration of government and business — the network of subsidies, preferences, and regulations — is so thick and deep, the people “at the table” receive and recycle into politics so much money, that independent businesspeople cannot hope to undo any given regulation or grant of privilege. Just as no manufacturer can hope to reduce the subsidies that raise his fuel costs, no set of doctors can shield themselves from the increased costs and bureaucracy resulting from government mandates. Hence independent business’s agenda has been to resist the expansion of government in general, and of course to reduce taxes. Pursuit of this agenda with arguments about economic efficiency and job creation — and through support of the Republican Party — usually results in enough relief to discourage more vigorous remonstrance. Sometimes, however, the economic argument is framed in moral terms: “The sum of good government,” said Thomas Jefferson, is not taking “from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” For government to advantage some at others’ expense, said he, “is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association.” In our time, more and more independent businesspeople have come to think of their economic problems in moral terms. But few realize how revolutionary that is.

As bureaucrats and teachers’ unions disempowered neighborhood school boards, while the governments of towns, counties, and states were becoming conduits for federal mandates, as the ruling class reduced the number and importance of things that American communities could decide for themselves, America’s thirst for self-governance reawakened. The fact that public employees are almost always paid more and have more generous benefits than the private sector people whose taxes support them only sharpened the sense among many in the country class that they now work for public employees rather than the other way around. But how to reverse the roles? How can voters regain control of government? Restoring localities’ traditional powers over schools, including standards, curriculum, and prayer, would take repudiating two generations of Supreme Court rulings. So would the restoration of traditional “police” powers over behavior in public places. Bringing public employee unions to heel is only incidentally a matter of cutting pay and benefits. As self-governance is crimped primarily by the powers of government personified in its employees, restoring it involves primarily deciding that any number of functions now performed and the professional specialties who perform them, e.g., social workers, are superfluous or worse. Explaining to one’s self and neighbors why such functions and personnel do more harm than good, while the ruling class brings its powers to bear to discredit you, is a very revolutionary thing to do.

America’s pro-family movement is a reaction to the ruling class’s challenges: emptying marriage of legal sanction, promoting abortion, and progressively excluding parents from their children’s education. Americans reacted to these challenges primarily by sorting themselves out. Close friendships and above all marriages became rarer between persons who think well of divorce, abortion, and government authority over children and those who do not. The homeschool movement, for which the Internet became the great facilitator, involves not only each family educating its own children, but also extensive and growing social, intellectual, and spiritual contact among like-minded persons. In short, the part of the country class that is most concerned with family matters has taken on something of a biological identity. Few in this part of the country class have any illusion, however, that simply retreating into private associations will long save their families from societal influences made to order to discredit their ways. But stopping the ruling class’s intrusions would require discrediting its entire conception of man, of right and wrong, as well as of the role of courts in popular government. That revolutionary task would involve far more than legislation.

The ruling class’s manifold efforts to discredit and drive worship of God out of public life — not even the Soviet Union arrested students for wearing crosses or praying, or reading the Bible on school property, as some U.S. localities have done in response to Supreme Court rulings — convinced many among the vast majority of Americans who believe and pray that today’s regime is hostile to the most important things of all. Every December, they are reminded that the ruling class deems the very word “Christmas” to be offensive. Every time they try to manifest their religious identity in public affairs, they are deluged by accusations of being “American Taliban” trying to set up a “theocracy.” Let members of the country class object to anything the ruling class says or does, and likely as not their objection will be characterized as “religious,” that is to say irrational, that is to say not to be considered on a par with the “science” of which the ruling class is the sole legitimate interpreter. Because aggressive, intolerant secularism is the moral and intellectual basis of the ruling class’s claim to rule, resistance to that rule, whether to the immorality of economic subsidies and privileges, or to the violation of the principle of equal treatment under equal law, or to its seizure of children’s education, must deal with secularism’s intellectual and moral core. This lies beyond the boundaries of politics as the term is commonly understood.

The Classes Clash

The ruling class’s appetite for deference, power, and perks grows. The country class disrespects its rulers, wants to curtail their power and reduce their perks. The ruling class wears on its sleeve the view that the rest of Americans are racist, greedy, and above all stupid. The country class is ever more convinced that our rulers are corrupt, malevolent, and inept. The rulers want the ruled to shut up and obey. The ruled want self-governance. The clash between the two is about which side’s vision of itself and of the other is right and which is wrong. Because each side — especially the ruling class — embodies its views on the issues, concessions by one side to another on any issue tend to discredit that side’s view of itself. One side or the other will prevail. The clash is as sure and momentous as its outcome is unpredictable.

In this clash, the ruling class holds most of the cards: because it has established itself as the fount of authority, its primacy is based on habits of deference. Breaking them, establishing other founts of authority, other ways of doing things, would involve far more than electoral politics. Though the country class had long argued along with Edmund Burke against making revolutionary changes, it faces the uncomfortable question common to all who have had revolutionary changes imposed on them: are we now to accept what was done to us just because it was done? Sweeping away a half century’s accretions of bad habits — taking care to preserve the good among them — is hard enough. Establishing, even reestablishing, a set of better institutions and habits is much harder, especially as the country class wholly lacks organization. By contrast, the ruling class holds strong defensive positions and is well represented by the Democratic Party. But a two to one numerical disadvantage augurs defeat, while victory would leave it in control of a people whose confidence it cannot regain.

Certainly the country class lacks its own political vehicle — and perhaps the coherence to establish one. In the short term at least, the country class has no alternative but to channel its political efforts through the Republican Party, which is eager for its support. But the Republican Party does not live to represent the country class. For it to do so, it would have to become principles-based, as it has not been since the mid-1860s. The few who tried to make it so the party treated as rebels: Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. The party helped defeat Goldwater. When it failed to stop Reagan, it saddled his and subsequent Republican administrations with establishmentarians who, under the Bush family, repudiated Reagan’s principles as much as they could. Barack Obama exaggerated in charging that Republicans had driven the country “into the ditch” all alone. But they had a hand in it. Few Republican voters, never mind the larger country class, have confidence that the party is on their side. Because, in the long run, the country class will not support a party as conflicted as today’s Republicans, those Republican politicians who really want to represent it will either reform the party in an unmistakable manner, or start a new one as Whigs like Abraham Lincoln started the Republican Party in the 1850s.

The name of the party that will represent America’s country class is far less important than what, precisely, it represents and how it goes about representing it because, for the foreseeable future, American politics will consist of confrontation between what we might call the Country Party and the ruling class. The Democratic Party having transformed itself into a unit with near-European discipline, challenging it would seem to require empowering a rival party at least as disciplined. What other antidote is there to government by one party but government by another party? Yet this logic, though all too familiar to most of the world, has always been foreign to America and naturally leads further in the direction toward which the ruling class has led. Any country party would have to be wise and skillful indeed not to become the Democrats’ mirror image.

Yet to defend the country class, to break down the ruling class’s presumptions, it has no choice but to imitate the Democrats, at least in some ways and for a while. Consider: The ruling class denies its opponents’ legitimacy. Seldom does a Democratic official or member of the ruling class speak on public affairs without reiterating the litany of his class’s claim to authority, contrasting it with opponents who are either uninformed, stupid, racist, shills for business, violent, fundamentalist, or all of the above. They do this in the hope that opponents, hearing no other characterizations of themselves and no authoritative voice discrediting the ruling class, will be dispirited. For the country class seriously to contend for self-governance, the political party that represents it will have to discredit not just such patent frauds as ethanol mandates, the pretense that taxes can control “climate change,” and the outrage of banning God from public life. More important, such a serious party would have to attack the ruling class’s fundamental claims to its superior intellect and morality in ways that dispirit the target and hearten one’s own. The Democrats having set the rules of modern politics, opponents who want electoral success are obliged to follow them.

Suppose that the Country Party (whatever its name might be) were to capture Congress, the presidency, and most statehouses. What then would it do? Especially if its majority were slim, it would be tempted to follow the Democrats’ plan of 2009-2010, namely to write its wish list of reforms into law regardless of the Constitution and enact them by partisan majorities supported by interest groups that gain from them, while continuing to vilify the other side. Whatever effect this might have, it surely would not be to make America safe for self-governance because by carrying out its own “revolution from above” to reverse the ruling class’s previous “revolution from above,” it would have made that ruinous practice standard in America. Moreover, a revolution designed at party headquarters would be antithetical to the country class’s diversity as well as to the American Founders’ legacy.

Achieving the country class’s inherently revolutionary objectives in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with its own diversity would require the Country Party to use legislation primarily as a tool to remove obstacles, to instruct, to reintroduce into American life ways and habits that had been cast aside. Passing national legislation is easier than getting people to take up the responsibilities of citizens, fathers, and entrepreneurs.

Reducing the taxes that most Americans resent requires eliminating the network of subsidies to millions of other Americans that these taxes finance, and eliminating the jobs of government employees who administer them. Eliminating that network is practical, if at all, if done simultaneously, both because subsidies are morally wrong and economically counterproductive, and because the country cannot afford the practice in general. The electorate is likely to cut off millions of government clients, high and low, only if its choice is between no economic privilege for anyone and ratifying government’s role as the arbiter of all our fortunes. The same goes for government grants to and contracts with so-called nonprofit institutions or non-governmental organizations. The case against all arrangements by which the government favors some groups of citizens is easier to make than that against any such arrangement. Without too much fuss, a few obviously burdensome bureaucracies, like the Department of Education, can be eliminated, while money can be cut off to partisan enterprises such as the National Endowments and public broadcasting. That sort of thing is as necessary to the American body politic as a weight reduction program is essential to restoring the health of any human body degraded by obesity and lack of exercise. Yet shedding fat is the easy part. Restoring atrophied muscles is harder. Reenabling the body to do elementary tasks takes yet more concentration.

The grandparents of today’s Americans (132 million in 1940) had opportunities to serve on 117,000 school boards. To exercise responsibilities comparable to their grandparents’, today’s 310 million Americans would have radically to decentralize the mere 15,000 districts into which public school children are now concentrated. They would have to take responsibility for curriculum and administration away from credentialed experts, and they would have to explain why they know better. This would involve a level of political articulation of the body politic far beyond voting in elections every two years.

If self-governance means anything, it means that those who exercise government power must depend on elections. The shorter the electoral leash, the likelier an official to have his chain yanked by voters, the more truly republican the government is. Yet to subject the modern administrative state’s agencies to electoral control would require ordinary citizens to take an interest in any number of technical matters. Law can require environmental regulators or insurance commissioners, or judges or auditors to be elected. But only citizens’ discernment and vigilance could make these officials good. Only citizens’ understanding of and commitment to law can possibly reverse the patent disregard for the Constitution and statutes that has permeated American life. Unfortunately, it is easier for anyone who dislikes a court’s or an official’s unlawful act to counter it with another unlawful one than to draw all parties back to the foundation of truth.

How, for example, to remind America of, and to drive home to the ruling class, Lincoln’s lesson that trifling with the Constitution for the most heartfelt of motives destroys its protections for all? What if a country class majority in both houses of Congress were to co-sponsor a “Bill of Attainder to deprive Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and other persons of liberty and property without further process of law for having violated the following ex post facto law…” and larded this constitutional monstrosity with an Article III Section 2 exemption from federal court review? When the affected members of the ruling class asked where Congress gets the authority to pass a bill every word of which is contrary to the Constitution, they would be confronted, publicly, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s answer to a question on the Congress’s constitutional authority to mandate individuals to purchase certain kinds of insurance: “Are you kidding? Are you kidding?” The point having been made, the Country Party could lead public discussions around the country on why even the noblest purposes (maybe even Title II of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964?) cannot be allowed to trump the Constitution.

How the county class and ruling class might clash on each item of their contrasting agendas is beyond my scope. Suffice it to say that the ruling class’s greatest difficulty — aside from being outnumbered — will be to argue, against the grain of reality, that the revolution it continues to press upon America is sustainable. For its part, the country class’s greatest difficulty will be to enable a revolution to take place without imposing it. America has been imposed on enough.

Forward to the past: State of the union on July 4, 2010

A thoughtful bit of collectivism from Ed Driscoll

The Great Airbrushing meets the Great Relearning on the Fourth
posted July 4, 2010, by Ed Driscoll h/t Hot Air

Like many states with large urban areas, California has a bit of a graffiti problem. Drive past a railroad yard, an industrial park, a bridge or an overpass, and the odds are very good that you’ll the spray-painted markings from a would-be artist’s latest quest for immortality. And given the slow rate that this stuff seems to get cleaned up, if ever, he may have stumbled over the perfect medium to achieve it.

Fortunately, California is getting serious about the issue:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is apologizing for a decision by state transportation officials to paint over a giant American flag mural on the side of a Northern California freeway.The 35-foot long flag was painted on a concrete slab near Interstate 680 in Sunol by three men about two weeks after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Even though the mural had been in clear view of commuters for nearly nine years, a Caltrans spokesman says it wasn’t until last month that someone in the agency asked if the flag was on state property.

Spokesman Allyn Amsk says it was covered up with grey paint Wednesday morning.

In a statement Friday, Schwarzenegger extended his “apologies to the artists whose mural inspired drivers along 680 for over eight and a half years.”

They didn’t intend it this way of course, but the brain-dead bureaucrats that inhabit Sacramento have created the perfect metaphor for this Fourth of July weekend, which certainly feels a bit gloomier than some. (How bad is it? Even Canada’s feeling a bit sorry for us today!) Or as Minority Leader John Boehner said of the Democrats and the president, “They’re snuffing out the America that I grew up in,” causing Rick Moran to add:

The congressman is not referring to the grand plans of statesmen and social engineers, or the yardsticks of social progress that so enamor the left. Boehner was referring to a state of mind about America that is disappearing.What else is America except a place that has lived in the dreams of men since we organized ourselves into nation-states? Each of us alone defines our own America, imbuing it with our own hopes, animating it with our own definitions of liberty, consecrating it by our embrace of its traditions and values. It is this feeling about America that Boehner believes is threatened. But is he right? Is his implication that the growth of government under the current administration — the largest expansion in history — can destroy what we “grew up with” as a vision of America in our minds?

There are other things we grew up with in America — those of us of Boehner’s age and a little younger — and not all of them bring pleasant memories to the surface. In fact, a significant number of them we wanted “snuffed out.” Certainly, the casual kind of racism and intolerance that was not unfamiliar in the America of my own youth should have been snuffed out. The second-class citizenship accorded women (cemented in both tradition and the law) needed to be left behind, as did attitudes toward gays, the handicapped, the mentally ill, and others in society who lived on the margins, largely invisible to the majority of us, and who suffered in silence until their concerns were given voice a decade or two later.

The top down airbrushing out of American exceptionalism, in the both the figurative sense as Boehner noted, and in the literal sense via California’s draconian state government is a big part of why John Podhoretz and Roger L. Simon are also striking similar themes this weekend. First up, responding to today’s equivalent of “the casual kind of racism and intolerance” mandated, then and now by the state, Roger wishes the nation “Happy Unbirthday, America:”

But whatever we call our situation, the causes of our malaise are all too apparent — a depressed economy, out-of-control government spending with the largest deficits since World War II, an intractable ecological disaster with no plan how to end it, a continuing global war against an enemy we dare not even name, a mad theocracy on the verge of nuclear weapons, and so on.

Worst of all, however, may be the growing cancer inside our own house. Difficult as our problems may be, they can be resolved democratically in a society under the rule of law. But we have reason to believe that these days, that most basic of all our legal principles, that keystone of our system, one which was fought for by generations of Americans, equality before the law, is under attack at the center of our government.

That is why the most important story that Pajamas Media has covered since its inception in 2005 may be the emergence of whistleblower J. Christian Adams from the Department of Justice. Adams was an attorney in the voting rights division who resigned when the Department forbid him to testify on the New Black Panther case before the US Commission on Civil Rights. The Department had dismissed that case before sentencing, even though they had won it. According to Adams, the DOJ has a dreadful record when pursuing examples of black on white racism. Only racism towards people of color is countenanced.

As CEO of Pajamas Media, I am proud to have published Adams and will continue to do so. I am also a former sixties civil rights worker and what we were fighting for at the time was true racial equality, not an unbalanced system in which aggrieved interest groups, whatever their historical justification, can threaten and bully people of other races. I can’t say what Dr. King would think today (unlike others, I am not psychic) but I would like to think he would oppose racism from all quarters and toward all races. In fact, I am almost certain he would.

At the New York Post, Podhoretz asks, “How are those of us who stand in opposition to the domestic agenda and foreign-policy views of President Obama and his administration to think about this country in 2010 as we approach the nation’s birthday on Sunday?”

Or, to put it another way: How should a self-described patriot think, act and talk about the United States if that self-described patriot believes the elected leadership of the United States has led the country into a ditch that threatens to expand into a bottomless chasm?

Does the fault lie with the president and his party, or does it reside in the electorate that installed them? If it resides in the electorate, what does that say about the condition of the United States?

People interested in public policy and politics with a philosophical bent are profoundly attracted to these sorts of questions. They seem to cut through the fog of specifics to the clarity provided by an inquiry into the basics, into first things.

(After all, it gets tedious after a while to say, “This detail is what’s wrong with the Obama approach to health care,” or “That consequence indicts the entirety of the Bush approach in the War on Terror.” Arguments conducted on that level invite endless counterarguments and rebuttals. Worse, they elevate the opposition as worthy of engagement — when a ferocious and passionate partisan seeks to discredit the opposition. To delegitimize the opposition.)

In the case of Barack Obama, the root questions are: Who is he and why is he doing this?

Podhoretz’s article is titled,“Patriotic opposition: Loving a nation that elected O.” And while it ends on a hopeful note (help is coming in November), reading it after eight years of a culture war from the left against President Bush, followed by two years of a culture war from left against the Americans involved in the Tea Party, it’s a reminder that the Culture War itself, with roots dating back to the 1950s and earlier, has reached the quagmire stage. You can see it at work in Hollywood, where seemingly every recent product is trashed by some protest group as “racist,” when employees of a General Electric co-owned television network can refer to half their potential audience as racist, and when the journalists writing at an email list started by an employee of the Washington Post can refer to their former editor, today the publisher of one of the left’s flagship house organs as — you guessed it — racist.

Taken as a whole, what do all those charges say about the nation’s critics? As Victor Davis Hanson wrote last year:

The charge of racism has been leveled against critics of President Obama’s health-care reform by everyone from New York Times columnists, racial activists, and Democratic legislators to senior statesmen like Jimmy Carter (“It’s a racist attitude”), Bill Clinton (“some . . . are racially prejudiced”), and Walter Mondale (“I don’t want to pick a person [and] say, ‘He’s a racist,’ but I do think the way they’re piling on Obama . . . I think I see an edge in them that’s a little bit different”).

But are Obama’s critics really racists?

It is a serious charge. If true, it means the hope of a color-blind society is essentially over after a half-century of civil-rights progress. If false, it means that we have institutionalized vicious smears as legitimate political tactics — and, in the process, discredited the entire dialogue that surrounds racial prejudice.

A couple of decades ago, in a piece that was later republished in his Hooking Up anthology from 2000, Tom Wolfe described the twin polarities of the modern left: “Starting From Zero” and the inevitable “Great Relearning” that inevitably follows — typically slowly and painfully — when a nation decides to discard its cultural past:

“Start from zero” was the slogan of the Bauhaus School, a tiny artists’ movement in Germany in the 1920s that swept aside the architectural styles of the past and created the glass-box face of the modern American city during the twentieth century. I should mention the soaring exuberance with which the movement began, the passionate conviction of the Bauhaus’s leader, Walter Gropius, that by starting from zero in architecture and design man could free himself from the dead hand of the past.The hippies sought nothing less than to sweep aside all codes of restraints of the past and start out from zero. Among the codes and restraints that people in the [hippie] communes swept aside—quite purposely—were those that said you shouldn’t use other people’s toothbrushes or sleep on other people’s mattresses without changing the sheets or, as was more likely, without using any sheets at all.

And in 1968 they were relearning…the laws of hygiene…by getting the mange, the grunge, the itch, the twitch, the thrush, the scroff, the rot. This process, namely the relearning—following a Promethean and unprecedented start from zero—seems to me to be the leitmotif of the 21st century.

In politics the 20th century’s great start from zero was one-party socialism, also known as Communism or Marxism-Leninism. Given that system’s bad reputation in the West today, it is instructive to read John Reed’s Ten Days that Shook the World—before turning to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. Well before the sudden breaching of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the relearning had reached the point where even ruling circles in the Soviet Union and China had begun to wonder how best to conquer Communism into something other than, in Bernard Henri-Levy’s memorable phrase, “barbarians with a human face.”

The great American contribution to the 20th century’s start from zero was in the area of manners and mores, especially in what was rather primly called “the sexual revolution.” In every hamlet, even in the erstwhile Bible belt, may be found the village brothel, no longer hidden in a house of blue lights or red lights or behind a green door but openly advertised by the side of the road with a thousand-watt backlit plastic sign. But in the sexual revolution, too, a painful dawn broke in the 1980s, and the relearning, in the form of prophylaxis, began. All may be summed up in a single term requiring no amplifications: AIDS.

The Great Relearning—if anything so prosaic as remedial education can be called great—should be thought of not so much as the end point of the 20th century as the theme of the 21st. There is no law in history that says a new century must start 10 or 20 years beforehand, but two times in a row it has worked out that way.

In a way, America has inverted the process: we didn’t have a “Start From Zero” revolution in the 20th century, nor in January of 2009; it was a slow, inexorable process on the left in academia and both the entertainment and journalism to snuff out of what made America great. It ultimately produced men like Barack Obama who seemingly display little or no pride in what makes this nation unique, despite its flaws, both real and punitively imagined. But perhaps the fortunate lack of a sudden “Start From Zero” moment means that the Great Relearning could occur faster than most.

Or as Podhoretz adds:

The American political system presents two choices to the American people — Republicans or Democrats. After preferring Republicans for a few election cycles in the early years of the first decade of this century and not liking the result, the electorate decided to go for Democrats for a few election cycles. It now appears they don’t like this result either — and will now go back to the Republicans and give them another chance.

The body politic is not panicking, even though the news is dire — because it knows, somehow, that this too shall pass. America has faced worse times and weathered them. Even within our memory, it has had other leaders who also misunderstood their mandates and offered solutions to the nation’s problems that only exacerbated them.

The body politic learns from its mistakes and uses its power to correct them. Taken as a whole, this bunch of rubes and dupes and boobs shows a remarkably commonsensical approach to these things by saying, in essence:

Nothing is irreversible. Change is possible.

The political message of July 4, 2010 that is looking increasingly like a harbinger of doom for the man who popularized it two years ago is simply this:

Yes, we can.

Hope!