Imagine, for a moment, the various problems a consumer can encounter in the marketplace. Some examples can include a courtesy clerk placing a frozen turkey on top of a customer’s bread at the grocery store, a car leaking oil after it has been taken in for an oil change, or the delivery of a pizza 45 minutes late. Continue to imagine (if possible) that they say to themselves, after such problem, any of the following statements:
“Look at my bread! Next time I’m going to have a pro-wrestler help me out with my groceries.”
“45 minutes late? Man! I’ll have the post office deliver it in the future.”
“Can you believe this oil leak? I should have taken my car in to a plumber – these career auto repairmen cause all the problems in the car industry.”
It is hard to imagine any sane person making such ludicrous statements – but the essence of such statements are consistently upheld and supported by the American electorate, as they condemn career politicians for all the misery in the political world.
What is a career politician? In order to properly answer this question, it is first necessary to break it into its two component concepts: “career” and “politician.” A “career” is “an occupation or profession followed as a life’s work” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, p. 125; 1997 edition). A “politician” is “a person actively engaged in government or politics.” (Ibid., p. 567)
Taken together, a “career politician” is simply a person who pursues politics as his life’s work, just like a courtesy clerk, automobile repairman, or pizza deliveryman is a person who pursues their careers in the grocery, automobile, and food services industries. The phrase “career politician” is, at worse, ethically neutral; it is a definition of a type of person. At best, it refers to an individual who seeks a value in a certain career field. So by what justification is “career politician” given a bad connotation?
The idea leading to this connotation is the assertion that career politicians promote policies and laws that are beneficial to themselves and for the “special interests” that support them, but not to the “common good.” They do this since it enhances their careers and gets them more fame and money. They are so engrained in the political system that they no longer know what it’s like to be an “everyday” citizen and they are out-of-touch with such people.
The solution offered for this “problem” is to replace all or most politicians with non-politicians (does the name “Joe the Plumber” ring a bell with anyone?), who will work for the “common good,” because they are not a part of the “system” and know the concerns of “everyday” citizens.
Basically, if a car needs to be fixed, get a plumber to do it, because an automobile repairmen will only act in his own interest in fixing your car and a plumber knows what “everyday” automobile drivers go through, since he drives a car, rather than fixes one. Essentially, to fix a problem, a person with little to no knowledge of the fundamentals of the problem is needed.
This idea is the effect of the frustration citizens have with their current state of government, which is completely dysfunctional; but this frustration is completely misdirected towards the concretes that operate in such government (career politicians) rather than the abstract ideas that give birth to such politician’s actions (ideas), similar to the fact that it is not automobile repairmen that cause oil leaks, but rather the ideas that govern their work ethic. This idea about career politicians is a complete offspring of a disintegration of concepts, particularly political ones, of which most citizens lack a serious understanding of.
Take the confession that is made in the statements which assert that political systems corrupt people. The confession is that political systems are corrupt, but anyone except devout intrinsicists know that political systems are not inherently corrupt; it is corrupt ideas that make it capable for systems and people to be corrupted, and only then by the latter’s embrace of the former.
What are the ideas that are causing such corruption? Most critics, from both the left and the right, have correctly identified the result of these corrupt ideas by noticing that government officials vote for policies and laws that dole out favors to other people or organizations, who in turn provide money and their own types of favors to such officials. The problem is that both the left and the right have failed to acknowledge what the cause is, which is collectivism and the abdication of property rights.
Collectivism allows for anyone’s property to be confiscated and given to another, for the “common good.” It entails three parts: a victim, a beneficiary, and a “common good.” What exactly these parts are depends on the current brand of collectivism. Historical examples have included the bourgeois (victim), the party (beneficiary), and the dictatorship of the party (“common good”) under Communism; the serfs (victim), the church/government (beneficiary), and Christian morality (“common good”).
Today’s current brands include the wealthy (victim), the “little people” (beneficiary), and social engineering (“common good”) under Liberalism. Conservatism reverses Liberal’s victim and beneficiary, but the “common good” is, like the Dark Ages, “Christian morality.”
Collectivism, no matter what the brand, breeds corruption in the worst dog-eat-dog fashion. Victims and beneficiaries spend millions of dollars each year on lobbyists and candidates for the purpose of reversing each others roles; to rule or risk being ruled. Some of the more honest people and organizations engage in lobbying just for survival. They have no wish to rule or be ruled, but collectivism gives them no choice, unless they want to become extinct.
This being the fundamental problem, what is the best solution for solving it? Take into consideration what would happen if such ideas were replaced by one that was fundamentally its opposite – say, individualism (protected under a capitalist system), which inherently holds property rights to be sacred.
A lobbyist for some “special interest” could still go into a Congressman’s office and promise him a million dollars for his next campaign, if such Congressman could earmark a billion dollars in subsidies to the lobbyist’s business. The Congressman, at best, could only shrug his shoulders and tell the lobbyist that he is unable to help. The Constitution of the country, which restricts his and Congress’ power, establishes a complete separation of economics and state, thus forbidding Congress from doling out subsidies for any economic endeavor. The Congressman would be unable to pass such a law, because ultimately, assuming it even passed both Houses and was signed by the President, the Supreme Court would overrule it as unconstitutional. The lobbyist’s business, which would lack the resources to bribe a majority of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President, would have to content itself to trying to win over the affections of consumers through non-coercive means.
The fundamental issue, therefore, is not one of career politicians versus everyday citizens, but of collectivism versus individualism. The tragedy with this issue, in America, is that it is the conservatives, the supposed champions of individual rights, who speak the loudest against career politicians. This is a confession of the conservative movement’s philosophical bankruptcy – they have abdicated abstract ideas in favor of concretes.
Even more ironic is the fact that conservatives keep holding America’s Founding Fathers as the ideal of the type of people we should have in office today. What they fail to mention is that a good number of the Founding Fathers were career politicians. Take the following examples:
John Adams: Starting from the time he attended the First Continental Congress to the time he left the White House, was a politician for 27 years.
Thomas Jefferson: Starting from the time he first began working in the Virginia legislature until he left the White House, was a politician for 40 years.
James Madison: Starting from the time he first began working in the Virginia legislature until the end of his co-chairing the Virginia constitutional convention in 1829, was a politician for 53 years.
What distinguishes the Founding Fathers from today’s politicians, aside from their ideals, is the fact that the former were actual career politicians, in the strictest sense of the term. They were men who treated politics as a science, valued their political ideals, and fought for them passionately throughout the course of their lives. This is befitting all good career men, no matter what career path they take and stems from the same ethics that individualism springs from: egoism.
Most of today’s politicians, on the other hand, are the slime that creep from the same root as collectivism: altruism, the sacrifice of oneself for the sake of others. They do not have any political ideas and they do not care for politics, save only to the extent that it provides them with publicity. Such men are second-hand publicity seekers, who only enter into politics because it is a high-profile career field.
(How is this altruism? A career politician’s value is that of the opinions of others, which he deems to be more important than his own. The more altruistic the politician, the more willing he is to sacrifice his integrity, his principles for their good opinion, which can be gained by having lots of money, influence, etc.)
Collectivism inherently replaces good career politicians with second-handers, who end up passing terrible laws which cause terrible consequences, because they do not treat politics as a science (like a career politician does), but as a vending machine for dispensing favors. The combination of bad ideas and bad men have lead the world to the state it is in and will continue to do so, unless something is fundamentally changed – and that change must come in the form of everyday citizens supporting individual rights and by voting for real career politicians, who are mature and honest enough to pass good laws to such end.