President Obama has just returned from a how-do-you-do with the British royals and other European officials, engagements of such apparent importance he chose to sign off on federal lawlessness at home with an extension of the Patriot Act by remote control.
During the same week Canadians celebrated Victoria Day, their historic ruler’s birthday, and throughout the world people continued to admire newlyweds Kate and William.
British people spent around $50 million dollars on the wedding, and yet they didn’t seem to care. Rather, they roared approval.
For those who value liberty this adulation is perplexing. “After all,” says Steve LaFleur, a Canadian policy analyst, “why should people be born into privilege at the expense of the taxpayer?”
Good question, since such a system is counter to equality under the law, and it places one’s ancestry over merit or performance.
“Government doesn’t exist to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to be a President. It exists to enforce the rule of law.”
I guess that settles it. The monarchy’s opponents must all want a chance to become king or president, and Canadians mustn’t be mature enough to rule themselves, as their betters in the motherland evidently are.
LaFleur’s limp defence, typical of royal apologists, does not answer why ancestry alone should determine one’s position to rule. Nor does it justify a rule of law that perpetuates the relationship of subjects to parasitic overlords, who even LaFleur acknowledges are more profligate than necessary. (The British queen’s annual $68 million from taxpayers — not to mention spoils from yesteryear — makes Obama’s $400,000 annual salary look positively frugal.)
Unfortunately, this unwarranted loyalty and admiration for a ruler and a ruling class appears to be festering in the United States. In fact, the nation’s most prominent pollster, Scott Rasmussen, has written a book, In Search of Self-Governance warning Americans that their desire to govern themselves is in jeopardy. ,
Obama’s broken promises and routine violations of the Constitution have continued to mount, over and above those of his predecessors, and have made him evermore like a monarch who writes his own laws. Yet over the past year his approval ratings have remained steady.
The adulation reflects a fear of responsibility, like a child afraid to wander far from home. Better to let the wise [insert: demagogues and tyrants] make decisions for us, and thank God that they do. If there is a problem, it must be the fault of the one with power and his responsibility to resolve.
A recent Sean Hannity interview with presidential candidate Gary Johnson, as they discussed drug legalization, demonstrated an example of this thinking.
“What do you do when people are in a crack-induced state of psychosis, if it’s decriminalized or legalized?… What do you do then?” said Hannity [emphasis mine].
He wasn’t referring to Gary Johnson the individual. He was referring to whoever may sit in the oval office. That’s who is responsible for addressing the problem, in Hannity’s view — not the family of the drug user or those in the local community. Rather, it is a figurehead who may be thousands of miles away.
The shift from a mindset of self-governance to that of a subject may seem subtle, but its ramifications are unmistakable and threaten what has historically made the United States distinct.
Just take a drive across the border into Canada. The first thing you’re likely to notice is the presence of CBC Radio (of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), since the government media provider has more radio stations than one can keep track of. And that is in addition to CBC’s prominent television and online presence.
People in the United States debate and predominantly oppose potential bailouts of media outlets as a threat to freedom of speech and independence of the press. (Take a look at the more than 2,500 comments on this The Hill article to get a sense for readers’ views.) But in Canada and other British colonies, the government is the press, and no one seems to notice. They’re accustomed to it as merely part of the landscape.
Lincoln Steffens — the original muckraking journalist — pointed out this danger of loyalties to rulers and political parties in his landmark 1904 book, Shame of the Cities He saw these as the key germ that allowed corruption to perpetuate, while reformers continued to fail. .
His wisdom remains true to this day.