The danger of loving the government while hating politics

In response to Obama’s Imperial Presidency:

Just what America really needed: a fusion of Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon.  You know, I hate to sound cynical, but I don’t see how even a Supreme Court smackdown over NLRB appointments is going to “check” Obama’s abuse of executive authority.  Where would the “additional scrutiny?” come from?  Who has the power to exercise such scrutiny?  The years-long process of dragging cases before the Supreme Court is not a sufficient check on the imperial presidency, especially since there aren’t that many cases as clear-cut as this one, with as many energetic and capable litigants able to prove they have standing, along with the resources necessary to keep the case moving forward.

I’ve been musing lately that the American people set themselves up for presidential empire by insisting on the smooth and efficient operation of our mega-government,.  Not its bureaucratic efficiency, mind you; the very notion is a silly joke in this ObamaCare era.  People are wearily accustomed to poor customer service from Uncle Sam.

But that sense of resignation is coupled with an equally deadly conviction that the engine of centralized power should barrel forward in high gear.  Everyone hates partisan squabbling, gridlock, and shutdowns.  We need Uncle Sam to Do Something, ASAP, about a host of crucial issues.  We’ve conceded that our freedom is negotiable.  There are few absolute limits on government power, or government ambition. 

That’s the peril of simultaneously accepting political control over a vast portion of our lives… and simultaneously declaring that we hate politics.  I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but you can’t have it both ways.  If you want the government to control your life, you must become expert in political matters.  You must learn to love politics.  You must watch the soap opera in Washington as avidly as you follow any Netflix-binge-worthy melodrama.

Because otherwise, you are submitting, not participating.  Obama’s going to give you a sneak peek at where your spiral of submission will end in his SOTU address.  Because riddle me this: if gridlock and partisan debate are awful, and what we really want is a government that moves with alacrity to impose solutions for all of society’s problems, then why not have a benevolent dictator who stands for election every four years?  Why term-limit him into lame duck-ness, which subsumes the wise benevolence of his second term into a grubby little political argument about who his successor should be?  Why spend all that time and money electing a Congress that mostly rubber-stamps what the executive desires, or is forced to sit back and watch him send executive orders zooming over their heads?  

If Obama’s avowed intention to use, and abuse, executive power to get things done with his almighty pen and phone is the proper model for government in this fast-moving high-tech era, why not just dissolve Congress, eliminate presidential term limits, and maybe reduce the presidential term to two years instead of four?  That way, we’d have frequent opportunities to vote against the one official we all get to vote for, and he might be a bit more concerned with keeping us happy.  Nixonian Carterism forever, with no scapegoats grazing on Capitol Hill, and no need for these dopey State of the Union rituals.


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