The 100 Years vs. The 100 Days Standard

A second assumption of the first hundred days standard is that government action is better than inaction and that quick action is better than a slower more deliberate response to political, social, and economic ills. The rush to act is inconsistent with the tenor of constitutional government and consequently, it conditions representatives to behave less like republican statesmen and more like demagogues. The American constitutional system is not designed for quick momentary action. To the contrary, it is designed especially in the realm of law making to be slow and deliberative. Why? So that disparate voices and interests can be heard, a more sober reflective spirit will prevail over the passion of the moment, and sufficient attention will be given by lawmakers to reaching a harmonious compromise that incorporates aspects of multiple interests. The aim of American constitutionalism is, to use James Madison’s words, to allow “the cool and deliberate sense of the community” to prevail. The American political system is designed for individuals with a temperament that exhibits patience, compromise, and deliberation. Quick momentary inhibition was considered by the Framers to be the cause of passions that were contrary to reason and the enduring interests of the people and their nation. The Framers rejected “pure” (i.e., direct) democracy precisely because it gave free reign to the momentary majority will and allowed it to dominate minority interests.

The conduct of contemporary American politics is increasingly characterized by gnostic impatience. The world in general and American society in particular are poorly organized and in need of significant if not revolutionary change. Evil, imperfection, and injustice are not tolerated to any degree. Politics is not the art of the possible but the instrument of metastatic transformation, i.e., not only can particular political, social, and economic problems be effectively addressed by public policy, but they can be permanently eradicated. In the past one hundred years, Americans have been promised by their presidents a permanent end to war, poverty, fear, drug use, terrorism, and deep recessions. None of these promises have been kept because they are the products of metastatic faith.

From this perspective, it might be useful to use the one-hundred years standard rather than the one-hundred days standard to measure the performance of American presidents. Doing so might be a sobering experience that inspires a new realism in American politics that is less prone to gnostic impatience and more tolerant of imperfection, less apt to confuse heaven and earth and more apt to see enmassment as destructive to ordered liberty and constitutionalism.

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3 comments on this post.
  1. RJ Snell:

    Thank you for a very fine post. And I’m glad to see some Voegelin, at least implicitly.

    But in my more despairing moments, such as right now, I wonder how metastatic faith in politics can ever be undone when our education is oriented towards forming such souls. I view a great deal of current University education as formation for a metastatic regime (drones with stings?).

    And then what hope is there, really?

  2. D.W. Sabin:

    FDR was but a piker compared to our current parasitical political class. Washington D.C. is now essentially a Bodybuilding Carnival with debt spending the new steroids. They oil one another up and pose and smile and sing lusty songs of patriotic fervor before convening with their handlers and benefactors on K Street to count neat stacks of hundies.

    All of it, of course, in humble “service” to “the people”…a more gullible group of willingly pick-pocketed rubes not seen since Mussolini yammered away to enthralled crowds from the second floor terrace of his palazzo across from the Victor Emmanuel Monument. People loved the spectacle of it until the spectacle appeared to leave them with a target on their backs and a chorus of growling empty stomachs.

    Somebody recently asserted that we should not lose “faith”. With Cheney and Bush creeping back up in popularity and Obama turning a far more smooth Bait and Switch than his churlish predecessors, ones faith in restoring an order closer to that described in your fine essay gets ever more remote. Faith becomes, in this context, almost pathological….and certainly history-averse.

    Leviathan has bred a generation in thrall to quick and easy answers…pat justifications for blithe acceptance. But, as has always been the case, Leviathan is never happy for long and begins to consume itself while the only relevant question is how many bystanders it will consume as it enjoys its final meal.

    As Abbey asserted, “When the situation is hopeless, there’s nothing to worry about”.

  3. Esmeralda_Pearl:

    I’m convinced that the only thing that will turn this country around is a major tragedy of Biblical proportions. I am not hoping or praying for such an event.

    About all we can do is try to work on our little areas of the country to build a sense of community…there’s that word again… ;)

    I don’t think it can be done through political means. It might be possible with church and civic organizations such as Rotary or Scouting (that depend on free association vs. government mandates..like our “Dear Leader’s plan for “compulsory volunteerism.”) Towns and smaller cities that have a military base or college/university within the near area probably have the best chance of succeeding at this type of endeavour.

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