Thursday, June 21, 2007

The government is burning up the last reserve of trust the people have for it

From USA Today:

Just 14% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress.

This 14% Congressional confidence rating is the all-time low for this measure, which Gallup initiated in 1973. The previous low point for Congress was 18% at several points in the period of time 1991 to 1994.

Congress is now nestled at the bottom of the list of Gallup's annual Confidence in Institutions rankings, along with HMOs. Just 15% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in HMOs. (By way of contrast, 69% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the military, which tops the list. More on this at on Thursday).

It’s worth remembering that Congress is basically nothing more than a mechanism for the representation of the people’s wishes. We all can’t go to Washington. So we elect men and women and send them off in our stead. It’s not an optimal situation, it seems to me, when such a low percentage of average Americans have confidence in this system.

"Congress is basically nothing more than a mechanism for the representation of the people’s wishes." Except that it isn't any more. Nearly 70% of the American people oppose the amnesty/open borders legislation currently being fast tracked through the Senate. The Senators know this and do not care. Their attitude (and the President's) is that all the ignorant, racist, know-nothing hicks out there don't know what is good for them so they should just shut up and let their enlightened masters do what is right.

This "just pay your taxes and don't give us a hard time" attitude, which was the real motivating factor in the passage of McCain-Feingold, has ignited a seething mass of pure fury out in "flyover country". It has caused the federal government to lose almost all credibility and is coming perilously close to causing the American people to withdraw their consent to be governed from the inside-the-beltway political class which rules Washington.

I have believed for some time that if the amnesty/open borders legislation passes the Senate and the House and is signed into law by the President that the ONLY hope for the survival of the nation would be a military coup. It would seem that 69% of the American public shares the trust which I place in our military.

There are record numbers of people who have simply stopped filing income tax returns. Some do not file because their financial situation is so precarious that they know that they cannot pay what they will owe and are depending on the fact that most non-filers are never caught to give them time to improve their situation. At which time they intend to file back returns and get caught up. Others are out-and-out cheaters who are scamming the system for purely financial motives. But a great many of them are protesting what they consider the unacceptable conduct of the federal government. They are withdrawing their consent to be governed by people who they have no respect for and can place no trust in.

As the situation in Washington worsens the number of principled non-filers will increase. The number of people who refuse to cast a vote in any national election will increase and the number of people who feel no obligation to obey any law with which they do not personally agree will increase.

In short, as the government continues to break faith with the people the people will lose faith in the government and become ungovernable.

Almost all of the likely outcomes of this situation are bad. Mostly the senarios involve a period of chaos after which a police state arises to restore order. There are really only two potential outcomes which are positive. One is where the military stages a coup and principled officers restore order under martial law while calling a new constitutional convention. A convention where the nation's drift toward soft socialism is reversed and a strictly limited government much closer to the founders' vision is reimposed with the franchise restricted in such a way that the "tax eaters" no longer have a say in government policy.

The second possibility for a good outcome is where the great mass of the public wakes up to the danger they are in and elects a critical mass of genuinely enlightened politicians so that enough votes exist in the legislature to overcome the opposition of the left and make the above mentioned changes through the existing legislative processes.

It is frankly very hard for me to see either of these two "good" outcomes becoming a reality. The military has done such a good job of being apolitical and subordinate to civilian authority for its entire history that it is difficult to see it rising up and seizing the levers of power. And with nearly half the country falling into the category of "tax eater" (one who receives more in government benefits than they pay in taxes) it is hard to see the public voting in a supermajority of small government conservatives.