Conservatives, libertarians, and especially the Tea Party are often accused by liberals of “hating the government.” We don’t hate it. Besides being jealous of our liberties, as the Founding Fathers advised, and deeply skeptical of Big Government’s performance over the past few decades, we just want the same level of accountability we would expect from any private enterprise we do business with. And you’re not going to see any business executives or their flacks trotting onto a full dance card of Sunday shows to declare “the law is irrelevant,” or sneer at the people who dare to question them, as Dan Pfeiffer did today.
The private sector knows such an attitude would provoke public outrage. They might behave in ways that disdain, or even break, the law – that’s why we have courts and regulatory agencies. But they don’t generally respond to criticism with a snotty dismissal of the uppity peons who absurdly dare to question them.
That’s partly because private sector big shots know the media would love to drag them onto the headlines and pillory them for saying such things, and government regulators tend to regard chest-thumping about puny little laws as an invitation for enhanced scrutiny. It’s also because there is only one guaranteed way to secure true accountability from any large organization: refuse to do business with them. That’s an option the peons have with even the mightiest corporations, but not with the omnipresent State.
Remember, early in the 2012 campaign, when Mitt Romney said he liked being able to fire people who give him bad service? The low-wattage Left tried to edit that quote to make Romney look like a hybrid of the Grinch, Scrooge, and Darth Vader, getting his jollies by handing out pink slips. But the full and clear meaning of his quote didn’t really sit any better with the more honest liberals. They know exactly what Romney was talking about – he was specifically referring to the difference between dealing with your choice of insurance companies versus the soul-crushing ObamaCare bureaucracy. The inescapable nature of government power is part of its romantic allure to the Left. Disgruntled clients of the central State don’t get to walk away. At most, they become players in a political game held only once every few years, and they’re not allowed to win, because even the worst Big Government programs never get repealed.
Obama has made an abject joke of “accountability,” although he still loves to throw the word around, because he knows people tend to believe politicians care about anything they mention frequently. You can’t have accountability when arrogant aristocrats get to decide which laws they feel like obeying. You can’t hold Obama’s feet to the fire when his loyal Party controls one house of Congress. You can’t make him answer questions like “What were you doing on the night of September 11, 2012?” unless the media is willing to hound him relentlessly, and feed outrage back to the public. The media helped him stuff all his skeletons in the closet and keep the door nailed shut until he got through the last election he’ll ever have to face. They disconnected him so thoroughly from the actions of his Administration, and the results of his policies, that much of the public has no expectations of him whatsoever. He’s pretty sure he can wear any scandal down until it’s time for his flacks to declare it “old news.”
We’re often advised to take comfort in knowing we can hold politicians accountable at the ballot box. What a foolish notion! A government this large has countless ways to change the subject of any national conversation, and unless a massive scandal blows open right before Election Day, politicians can be reasonably confident they won’t be judged on the basis of whatever has people riled up months or years earlier. At any rate, you’ll never get to cast a vote against the titanic bureaucracy, to which Congress has delegated much of its power. It’s difficult to tie that bureaucracy to any single elected official. Unless a highly improbable smoking-gun memo or brutally frank testimony under oath ties Obama to these corrupt IRS officials, does anyone really think the 2016 election will hinge on his IRS appointments, or those he makes to any other agency?
The only way to gain the respect of any large organization, public or private, is to make it believe it must earn and retain your business. Otherwise, accountability and responsibility are merely chips of uncertain value on a poker table.