“I learned that our Government must be strong; it’s always right and never wrong;Our leaders are the finest men and we elect them again and again.”
Pete Seeger- “What Did You Learn in School Today?”
I arrived at a recent meeting of our county commission too late to know what was going on, but I found after the meeting adjourned that blame for the budget shortfall and the so-called funding cuts being floated rested squarely on the shoulders of me and my fellow “bloggers.” As one of the attendees put it, “I want to thank you and the Gazette’s bloggers for this mess!”
What had we done? If our critics are to be believed, we’re the ones who created the 22% county wide poverty rate and the 27% poverty rate that afflicts the city of Emporia. We’re the architects of the failed economic development policy that has us stuck in the economic mud. We’re the idle dreamers who conjured up welcome rocks and Astroturf.
Are we responsible for any of those things? Are we the ones who put the blinders on our political leaders? No, but desperation sometimes becomes the surrogate mother of invention. All it takes is the turn of a phrase to divert the public’s attention away from the real culprits. Hence, it’s blame it on the bloggers.
Who are we, really? Collectively, we’re that small community band that’s had a Damascus Road experience. We’ve seen the light and have discovered that the light we see isn’t the train bound for Glory Land. It’s a speeding locomotive named big government and it’s bearing down on us like a Cruise missile.
We’re the unruly malcontents who refuse to continue accepting the flawed axiom that whatever politicians say or claim, be they federal, state, or municipal, must be treated as infallible and unassailable. Time and bitter experience have taught us that the relationship between the governed and those who govern has become a zero sum game, with the governed being on the losing side of the equation.
We have little or no political power. We don’t make the rules. We don’t appropriate the money. We don’t set the mill levies. There are only two things we do have. It’s the keen eye of the observer and the frustration our words convey.
As I said, we’ve seen the light. We know what we’re up against.
A year or so ago I read P.J. O’Rourke’s “Don’t Vote – It Just Encourages the Bastards.” On page 71 he describes the politician’s personality better than almost anyone I’ve ever read. Citing the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Medical Disorders, he lays out the diagnostic basis for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Here it is, verbatim: (1) “A pervasive pattern of grandiosity or need for admiration indicated by (a) A grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) (b) Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance (c) Believes that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (d) Is interpersonally exploitative (e) Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.”
The diagnosis explains it all. No wonder they love to go into executive session. No wonder they love tightening that tax vice on us. No wonder they pretend they can’t hear us when we scream bloody murder.
Yet, strangely, they now seem to be worried about us. The complaints about “anonymous know-nothings” are mounting. I think we’ve hit a really raw nerve, which tells me we must be doing something right.
It’s taken a while, but we’ve gathered up the pitchforks and we’ve made our way down to the windmill where the man-made monster lives. He was amusing and harmless for a time. He liked to puff cigars and listen to the violin. But now he’s decided to tax the life out of us and it’s time to fight back. And that, I suspect, is why they want to silence or marginalize us. As F.A. Hayek once observed, “It is not difficult to deprive the great majority of independent thought. But the minority who will retain an inclination to criticize must also be silenced....Public criticism or even expressions of doubt must be suppressed because they tend to weaken pubic support....When the doubt or fear expressed concerns not the success of a particular enterprise but of the whole social plan, it must be treated even more as sabotage.”
Are we really that dangerous to the status quo? I’d like to think so, but I have my doubts. Rhetoric is our only weapon, and words, even if they’re as sharp and pointed as the prongs of a pitchfork, are no match for a speeding train.