Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Audio and Transcript – Leo Linbeck at The Imaginative Conservative has an article called “Why Congress Doesn’t Work: Undermining Self-government” where he says that the problems with our government are SO complex and SO huge that we basically choose to ignore them and focus on something else (the Presidential Election). One man can’t solve everything that’s wrong with our government, but that’s all the American sheople and media are focused on, because the real problems are just TOO BIG to comprehend. Check out today’s audio and transcript for more…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: So I read this last night at The Imaginative Conservative website with great interest: “Why Congress Doesn’t Work: Undermining Self-government.” This is by Leo Linbeck, III.
Faced with a complex, hard-to-solve problem, there is a natural human tendency to solve a much simpler, easier one instead. Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, dubs this cognitive process “substitution.” We know our political system is broken. The signs are everywhere: knee-jerk partisanship, massive debts and unfunded liabilities, widespread citizen dissatisfaction, trillion-dollar deficits, rampant public and private corruption, and a federal government that has less support than King George III at the time of the American Revolution. But fixing the system is a staggeringly complex undertaking. The causes of its dysfunction are deep and obscure. So what do we do? We use substitution: we focus on electing a president who promises to solve all our problems.
Mike: Come here, let me pat you on the head. That’s right, it’s all going to go away when that mean, nasty Obama is gone. Yes, it is, good boy. Rest assured, be of good heart, be of good cheer. This is what Mr. Linbeck is saying. This doesn’t solve the problem. This is why some of you remain confounded as to why I won’t join your little parade. I don’t believe that your parade is going to be successful. As a matter of fact, I think Linbeck is correct when he asserts that this actually makes it worse.
The causes of its dysfunction are deep and obscure. So what do we do? We use substitution: we focus on electing a president who promises to solve all our problems. Conservatives did this in 2000, progressives did it in 2008, and both sides are doing it again in 2012. But it won’t work. There is no silver bullet, no shortcut, no Superman who will save us. In fact, by focusing almost exclusively on the presidency, we are making the problem worse, not better.
The major challenges facing the United States today are not problems of policy, but problems of governance. Our system is broken because we have imposed policies from the center that should be decided locally. [Mike: Gee, where have I heard that before?] Making those centralized policies more “conservative” will not improve our system; in fact, that will likely make things worse by increasing support for a bad governance structure. And a good policy under a bad governance structure ultimately morphs into a bad policy. The “horizontal” fight over what is decided is a diversion from the more important “vertical” fight over who decides. The vertical fight will determine whether we restore the American system of self-governance or continue our progression toward the Bismarckian procedural state.
Mike: He doesn’t call it republicanism but I do. What he is identifying here is republicanism. This is why local, local, local is what matters. This is where you want most of these decisions that some of you are so desperate to trade Obama making for Romney making. Again, just for those of you out there pecking away on your Twitter feeds or sending me hate mail, I have endorsed government Romney 800,602,000 times now. He gets the Christian gentleman nod in my book. I believe him to be a charitable, good Christian soul, and I do not believe that the president is currently. Therefore, he has received my endorsement, but that’s not good enough. [mocking] “You’ve got to endorse the policy.” Well, you’ll bark up that tree for the rest of your life, because that’s never going to happen.
This is what Mr. Linbeck is writing about here. The obsession over who gets to run our majestic federal nanny state is wrong-headed thinking. All you’re doing is rearranging deck chairs on the sinking Titanic. It is not what they are deciding, it’s who’s getting to do the deciding; meaning these things they are deciding on your behalf, they can’t possibly work when they’re decided on behalf of 309 million people. Can you decide them on behalf of 30,000 people and have a greater chance of success? I would say that you could. I bet you the solutions proposed would be different because you might actually have to pay for them where they are decided. If you had to pay for it, that welfare state may not seem like such a grand bargain. That unemployment insurance, that healthcare state may not seem like such a great deal. That never-ending warfare state, if you actually had to send your sons and daughters, and you actually had to pay for it with your money, it may not seem like such a grand adventure. That’s the point of republicanism.
I’ve issued this challenge before, and I don’t mean to imply here that if you haven’t read what I have read then you are inferior. I get that hate mail a lot, too. If someone doesn’t lead you to the well and suggest that you drink from it, then what chance do any of us have of fixing any of these tyrannical problems? Folks, we are headed towards that Bismarckian, German/Russian/European ideal here that we claim to all want to avoid. We’re doing nothing to stop it, because we continue to obsess over the center. We seem to want power in the center; we just want our guys to run it. That is wrong-headed thinking and that’s how you get a Bismarck. I’m not going to bring up the other name because it’s so cliché. That’s how it happens.
This is why if you read anything that was written by anyone that participated in the American Revolution, I don’t care who it is, what state they came from, what station in life they held, even if you read letters from soldiers. Get David Hackett Fischer’s book Washington’s Crossing. I forget the gentleman’s name who sent all those letters back and forth to his wife that Hackett Fischer found. You will find a word that runs concurrent to all those texts. Do you know what that word is? Republican with a little ‘r’ or republicanism. It is what they sought. This basically is what the Greeks gave us as Western civilization, the concept that men can govern themselves, and they can do so outside of a self-appointed or God-like aristocracy. The only way you can do it and have any chance of controlling it is to keep it local and keep it small, to keep its aims humble. That’s what republicanism is, as Jefferson described it. It probably does not work outside of a New England township.
End Mike Church Show Transcript