Why I am a Member of the Permanent Opposition

Too glib you say? Well, e glibus unum would seem to be the national motto of a system that thinks nothing of accumulating near half a million dollars in debt for every household in the land simply because it can. I rest my case.

In order to keep the natives distracted while the various City States that have Shanghaied the Republic run their age-old scams, the blessed media is now engaged in a charade of analysis and garment renting. The residents of the Skinner Box smell a rat and it is them. This will not do. Accordingly, we dissemble and re-invent and dream and conjure a cavalcade of improvements to a political system that needs far less improvement than it does a simple and disciplined application. The messy instrument handed us by our forebears was a delicate flower bearing a sturdy and full-bodied fruit until we began to consider ourselves immortal. Worse yet, in our perception of immortality, we decided that our role in human life was a controlling one, rather than a prudently supporting one. The citizen became his mythological government and henceforth, he lost his citizenship.

Reading Daniel Okrent’s latest book entitled Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, one can be excused for thinking that the American Constitution was as much a product of drunken reverie as it was a vessel of divine inspiration. Booze, you see, ran like water in the days of yore because the water ran a little tainted. The Framers were a bibulous lot they were. According to Okrent’s research, the average American in our early days drank the equivalent of nearly two fifths of hooch per week. No wonder they became overly optimistic about the essential goodness of a humanity geared toward the pursuit of happiness. I hoist a dram to thank them for their bleary optimism and general skepticism of the historic abuses of European monarchy. Would that they might have left us with the real news that if everyman was going to be a king then everyman was obligated to be their brother’s serf.

Drunk or not the inspired generation of the Framers, granted an ample playing field and a proper distance from the seat of power, they took stock of the frailties of human progress and devised a system of checks and balances that had the durability of a first class mule. This political beast of burden was specifically designed not for heedless progress but instead, it was devised for the deliberative advancement of a rather presumptuous idea of human liberty. Somehow over the years, we’ve abandoned the hard slog of deliberation for the frilly attractions of heedless and inchoate progress. We’ve come to take ourselves too seriously and to regard ourselves as some kind of empyrean denouement. Meanwhile, the emperor’s new clothes cover a body gone ridiculous, nervous, distracted and unrequited. Life is not enough for we bearers of the banner of happiness, we want to live forever and do so within a utopian society. Heaven is the 51st State.

Funny, but living forever would not seem to be so sweet a sinecure if all it meant was more debt. That, and of course a little more war to project the idea that we still knew what the American Way really was.

There is an old hardscrabble anthem of Yankee self-reliance that is still remembered in my land of homely, if now vestigial Town Meetings: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sure, this idea might have sprung from an end of day discussion over a few draughts of Apple Jack but there is a certain sturdy clarity to it.


We’ve been fixing this hobbled Republic for so long we’ve really gone and broke it. We’ve confused the idea of progress with unconstrained and debt-financed change. We’ve surrendered our native skepticism and hardy self-reliance for an idea that Fiat by Washington Decree is different than Fiat by Oriental or Occidental Despot.

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