I recently wrote a post that attempted to demonstrate the awesome scope of the brokenness of our current system. Long story short, I said that, in spite of historic electoral gains at every level of government, if conservatives don’t control the presidency, and therefore the supreme court, then conservatism is doomed.
A friend of mine then asked, “Hey genius, if so many people are voting for conservatives, why aren’t things going more their way?” I answered, basically, “Corruption.” That’s not wrong, but it’s giving short shrift to a good question. Luckily, over at Claremont.org, Angelo Codevilla explains at a little more length:
In short, all sides have abandoned restraint. Every new executive order, judicial decision, agency rule or policy, every successive imposition or insult by the well-connected and -protected, unlocks their targets’ theretofore repressed desires to “get back at the bastards.” As resentment breeds greater resentment, reviving the Republic grows even more improbable.
The ruling class having chosen raw power over law and persuasion, the American people reasonably concluded that raw power is the only way to counter it, and looked for candidates who would do that. Hence, even constitutional scholar Ted Cruz stopped talking about the constitutional implications of President Obama’s actions after polls told him that the public was more interested in what he would do to reverse them, niceties notwithstanding. Had Cruz become the main alternative to the Democratic Party’s dominion, the American people might have been presented with the option of reverting to the rule of law. But that did not happen. Both of the choices before us presuppose force, not law.
In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class’s chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.
And, because the ruling class blurs the distinction between public and private business, connection to that class has become the principal way of getting rich in America. Not so long ago, the way to make it here was to start a business that satisfied customers’ needs better than before. Nowadays, more businesses die each year than are started. In this century, all net additions in employment have come from the country’s 1,500 largest corporations. Rent-seeking through influence on regulations is the path to wealth. In the professions, competitive exams were the key to entry and advancement not so long ago. Now, you have to make yourself acceptable to your superiors. More important, judicial decisions and administrative practice have divided Americans into “protected classes”—possessed of special privileges and immunities—and everybody else. Equality before the law and equality of opportunity are memories. Co-option is the path to power.
Corruption used to be something you had to deal with, even in the best governments, because sometimes people who won office were just bad apples. It was a cost of doing business.
But now corruption is the business. Our formerly Constitutionally-limited government has been gradually re-engineered into a machine that has corruption as its function. It is an industry, and its product is power and wealth for the people who run it.
When we talk about battles between left and right, we forget that there’s a third party involved in the conflict: the entrenched bureaucratic-industrial complex. It’s big, and powerful, and always fully invested in every election. And it doesn’t care about left or right; it only cares about more.
If there’s an explanation for why elections don’t seem to reflect the will of the electorate, it’s that. People are voting for politicians to represent them, that’s just something the government isn’t interested in anymore.