Polls indicate that the public is so disgusted with Washington politicians of both parties that a surprisingly large proportion of the people would like to get rid of the whole lot of them.
It is certainly understandable that the voters would like to “throw the rascals out.” But there is no point in throwing the rascals out, if we are just going to get a new set of rascals to replace them.
In other words, we need to think about what there is about current political practices that repeatedly bring to power such a counterproductive set of people. Those we call “public servants” have in fact become public masters. And they act like it.
They squander ever more vast amounts of our tax money, and still leave trillions of dollars of national debt to be paid by our children and grandchildren. They intrude into our private lives with ever more restrictions, red tape and electronic surveillance. And they turn different groups of Americans against each other with class warfare rhetoric and policies.
None of this is inevitable. In fact, this pattern is largely the culmination of political trends set in motion during the 1930s, and reaching a climax today. During the 1920s, the national debt was reduced and the role of government scaled back. Unemployment went as low as 1.8 percent.
President Calvin Coolidge, with every prospect of being reelected in 1928, declared simply: “I do not choose to run.” Later, in his memoirs, he explained how dangerous it is to have anyone remain too long in the White House, surrounded by flattery and insulated from reality. What a contrast that attitude is with the attitude of the current occupant of the White House!
The contrast extends beyond these two presidents. What we have today that we did not have in the early history of this country is a permanent political class in Washington — a Congress and an ever growing federal bureaucracy composed of people who have become a permanent ruling class.
The United States was not founded by career politicians but by people who took time out from their regular professions to serve during a crucial time in the creation of a new nation, and a new kind of nation in a world ruled by kings and emperors.
The public’s opinion of politicians of both parties seems to have reached a new low. But no matter how much the voters detest Congress — or how justifiably — that does not mean that there will be radical changes at the next election.
For one thing, \”Congress\” is not on the ballot. Only individual members of Congress are. Most voters like their own Senator or Representative, often because of special favors that these incumbents have done for their own constituency — at the taxpayers\’ expense.
Add to this the so-called \”campaign reform\” laws that restrict the raising of money that challengers need, in order to counter the millions of dollars\’ worth of free advertising that incumbents get through ordinary media coverage, enhanced by the incumbents\’ sponsoring of ever more legislation, expanding the role of government.
The very longevity of incumbents in Congress makes it expedient for them to treat each other as \”facts of life\” — people with whom you have to \”go along to get along.\” One of their common interests as incumbents is reelection. This can lead to all sorts of bipartisan log-rolling legislation to hand out the taxpayers\’ money in ways that benefit incumbents of both parties.
In short, longevity in office can create more longevity in office. Moreover, this longevity can attract campaign contributions from special interests who expect something in return — if only a lightening up on government restrictions and red tape.
Many among the intelligentsia prefer to think of special interests as corrupting our dedicated public servants with campaign contributions. But Peter Schweizer\’s new book, \”Extortion,\” shows what happens as the extorting of tribute by politicians in a position to do a lot of harm to businesses that do not pay them protection money.
From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us.
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.
Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.
When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honor. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendor with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.
Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.