At the heart of progressive/liberal thought lies the belief that a big government is essential to guarantee true freedom. In the progressive’s bible, The Promise of American Life, Herbert Croly describes the ideal form of government as using “Hamiltonian means”(a powerful central government) to achieve “Jeffersonian ends”(individual liberty). Croly understood that such a centralized government required a modern equivalent of the guardians from Plato’s Republic(a highly educated and cultured elite) to function properly. We know this unelected, yet powerful elite by the less prosiac term of bureaucrat.
The progressive triumvirate running our country, Obama/Pelosi/Reid understand all too well that while political majorities come and go, bureaucracies last forever. They also understand that because the bureaucracy is not subject to the will of the American people, it is not constrained from acting in ways that politicians who must face the voters are. In the first year plus of the Obama administration the bureaucracy, with a wink and a nod from the president, has been very busy enacting Croly’s vision for America.
EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has decided that she must regulate CO2 as a pollutant and with it the entire American economy. The FDA has decided that its mission isn’t solely to make sure the food and drugs sold in our country are safe, but to regulate how much salt Americans can consume per day. The FCC evidently growing bored waiting for a wardrobe malfunction on Dancing with the Stars to fine, has decided to regulate the internet. After being rebuffed by a US Court of Appeals in his first takeover bid, FCC Chairman Genachowski has simply decided to reclassify ISP’s as telephone networks and regulate them that way. Both the health care law and the proposed financial reform legislation create new federal regulating authorities and yet more bureaucrats to oversee the health care and financial sectors of our economy.
The late William F. Buckley Jr. famously quipped:
“I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”.
Mr. Buckley’s statement was not a condemnation of intellectuals, he simply understood human nature better than Mr. Croly. He realized that while one may posess a first rate mind, it doesn’t mean they are free of idealogical blinders and their decisions will be negatively affected by this bias. A Democratic government that is representative of our collective and varied knowledge and skills is a better guarantor of individual liberty than one composed of a largely self-selected and perpetuating elite, however benignly they may rule. We must rein the bureaucrats in before they remake our Democracy into their ideal of good government, leaving the voters on the outside looking in.