The State is Us?

First, let’s give this concept it’s due:

Since we live in a democracy, where every office holder and law is reviewable, repealable and replaceable by the will of the people, for all intents and purposes the state is the same as the people. Don’t like something? Quit your whining and change it!

If this is an accurate restatement of the idea, there are two problems: theory versus reality, and time.

In theory, the people could could change any law, any officeholder, any program at will, and immediately. In practice, such a democracy is most clearly represented by a lynch mob, which is why our government is not a pure democracy. The difference between our representative constitutional democracy  and pure democracy is precisely this: that we, the people, cannot change anything we want whenever we want. We can only change our representatives every 2 to 6 years, we can only change laws by changing representatives, we can only change programs by changing laws. If we don’t like all these Constitutionally-provided roadblocks to direct action, and find that our representatives who hold their offices by virtue of those roadblocks don’t want to change them,  we can only change the Constitution by means (a Constitutional Convention) so difficult as to have proven to be fundamentally impossible. All of these roadblocks and processes were expressly meant by the Founders and explained in the Federalist Papers to  make change from the ground up so difficult and time-consuming as to be rare.

All of the foregoing is still theoretical – it assumes people are playing fair. If they don’t want to play fair, voters get intimated, ballot boxes get thrown in the river, bills never get to the floor because somebody got paid off somewhere, bureaucracies – the modern Praetorian Guards –  fund election of people who will guarantee that they always have a job. We have the perfidy of people on top of the safeguards against mob action as sand in the gears of change.

Now imagine I have a 5 year old and am ready to send her off to public school when I read this. Now, under the State is Us rules, all I have to do is replace the NEA policy with one that is tolerably sane. Meanwhile, my child will have spent 12 years in a system governed by the insane policy, taught by people who, at best, cant’ openly defy such policies, and, a worst, actually believe such policies are correct (or don’t go far enough!).  In fact, even if i were willing to devote my entire life to opposing this policy, and had success in recruiting millions of people to the cause AND the other side played fair (like that’s gonna happen), I’d be more likely to be babysitting my grandchildren than to have seen material change before my kids were out of school.

So, at the very least, I should hope that the State is Us crowd would recognize that, even if they are right, the time frames over which change can happen are such that lifetimes – your children’s lifetimes, in this example – would be wasted before any change took place.

All of the above assumes a fantasy world in which Machiavellian power struggles and utter deceit and craven greed don’t have their say. In this world, they not only have their say, they drown our every other sound.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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