Sanctimoniously Criminal

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Michigan's former governor, Jennifer Granholm, rants against Mitt Romney as a "bubble candidate", taking his wealthy background and a few maladroit remarks of his as excuses to accuse him of "willful blindness".

"He chooses not to see, feel, touch the human need," she piously moans, after admitting that she lived in her own "bubble" as governor. That last admission has a cynical purpose, however: It simply gives her a chance to crow about her own "concerted efforts to connect with people's struggles [and e]xperienc[e] the unfiltered pain of one's citizens..." Is it just me, or does not the phrase, "one's citizens" absolutely reek of condescension?

To Granholm, the essence of the human condition is suffering, not achievement. Likewise, her idea of being out of touch is to not see the alleviation of suffering as the purpose of life -- and of government. But she is right about one thing: Aspiring office holders should make sure they are in touch with the human condition before they seek office. But what would that really mean? As one writer put it some time ago:

According to Aristotle, "Man is the rational animal." We cannot simply soak in sunlight and nutrients as plants do. We do not instinctively hunt down food like other animals. Everything we do depends in some way upon the exercise of our rational faculty. From deciding whether to eat to judging the character of others, we live and die by our minds.

We benefit from living in a society only to the extent that we can exercise our right to use our minds for our own profit. We cannot prosper if defrauded, robbed, or killed. In recognition of that fact, free people form governments. We establish courts with the power to settle disputes and enforce their edicts, a police to stop criminals and a military to protect against foreign threats.

But what sets a government apart from other social institutions is its modus operandi. While we implicitly agree not to initiate force against others, we cede the power of retaliation to the government.
How is this relevant to Granholm's screed? For one thing, all the goodies she wants the government to hand out have to come from somewhere. Contrary to Barack "You didn't build that" Obama, those goodies -- that loot -- came from the sweat, thinking, and unstinting effort of individuals who put an end to their own suffering and need -- and even went on in many cases to prosper. If not, then perhaps Granholm -- and Obama for that matter -- can answer the foillowing question: Why hasn't the government abolished poverty by now? As Granholm might put it, "If it has happened, we don't know about it. And if it can happen, and we're still poor, then the people running it are a lost cause." The truth goes beyond just that: The government doesn't create any of the wealth it confers. It takes it from someone else, first. This is why the government hasn't solved the problems it is wrongly attempting to tackle, and why it will only make them worse the harder it tries.

Were a politician to truly better understand the American voter -- at least the ones who built this country before the government came in, started running things, and made a hash of everything -- he might do the following:
  • Find something he loves and start doing it.
  • Achieve some measure of success from his efforts.
  • Have some thug threaten to strip him of the fruits of his labor and give them to someone else, simply on the basis that that other person hasn't had that success.
  • And, maybe in today's political system, get robbed and slandered for his success, put in a position of needing help, or both, by the same thug. (Since that thug is the government, it may be horribly, horribly wrong, but it's all perfectly legal.) 
Perhaps then, absent an objective political philosophy, would such a candidate at least have some hope of understanding the American voter or the proper purpose of government.

I don't know which candidate is going to win this election, but if Jennifer Granholm's misconception about life -- with impotence and suffering the normal lot of mankind -- is as common as she hopes, we will all lose. Success is possible to everyone -- so long as we are free to act in our own best interests, and without fear of whim-driven coercion from the likes of Jennifer Granholm, Barack Obama, or common criminals.

-- CAV

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