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The Fall of Institutionalism by Oliver DeMille

March 13th, 2015 // 11:02 am @

A Major Change in America

big-brother-posterWe have a trust crisis in America. Specifically, we don’t trust our major institutions. For example, consider the current American view of government. A Gallup poll asked, “How much of the time do you think you can trust government in Washington to do what is right?”

The response? Only 19% of Americans highly trust government “most of the time.” And, a full 81% don’t trust the government to do the right thing most of the time. That’s huge.

In a 2013 Pew Research Center Poll, 53% of Americans said that the federal government “threatens their personal rights and freedoms.” In fact, for the most part, the more educated people are, the less they believe “Washington will do the right thing most of the time.”

When asked “which of the following will be the biggest threat to the country in the future: big business, big labor, or big government?,” only 26% said big business while 64% said big government. And 83% of Americans said they are “dissatisfied” with “the way the nation is being governed.”

But is doesn’t stop with Washington.

Trust and Angles

Only 25% of Americans have high “trust in the police,” the same amount as those who have great trust in churches/organized religion. A mere 17% have high trust in the medical system, and even less, 12%, have such trust in the public schools. The percentage with high trust in the banks is 10. As important as these institutions are in modern American life, these numbers are dismal.

Indeed, a mere 12% of Americans have high trust in the Supreme Court, only 14% in the presidency, and 4% in Congress. Only 10% have high trust in the criminal justice system, and only 10% have great trust in organized labor. Among adult Internet users in the United States, only 7% trust social media.

This lack of significant trust reflects a major shift in American views. For example, consider the following comparison of institutional trust in 2014 versus 1975 (Op Cit.):

INSTITUTION % OF AMERICANS WITH HIGH TRUST IN 1975 % OF AMERICANS WITH HIGH TRUST IN 2014
Public Schools 29 12
Congress 14 4
The Presidency 23 14
The Medical System 44 17
The Supreme Court 20 12
Church/Organized Religion 43 25

Looking at this from another angle, only 19% of Americans really trust the federal government and only 19% have high trust in their state government. In other words, we see our state governments in the same negative light as Washington. And only 25% of Americans have high trust in their local governments.

If modern Americans don’t feel that they can trust their local or state governments, schools, the media, banks, Wall Street, the justice system, the police, the courts, Congress, the White House, the Internet, doctors, or churches—who can they trust?

 The Status of an Era

As a 2015 TV Guide article put it: “A 2014 Harvard University poll revealed that only 11 percent of Millennials [those born between 1984 and 2001] trust the media to do the right thing most of the time.” And only 8% of Americans have high trust in the news they read on the Internet.

One area of more positive support: When asked to rate certain institutions as “positive” or “negative”, 95% of Americans ranked small business as positive and only 49% said big business was positive. The federal government was ranked positive by 46%, and “Entrepreneurs” by 84%.

In short, most people trust small businesses more than any other institution listed above, more than their local, state, or federal government or any branch of government, and more than the media, health care, public schools, banks, newspapers, the Internet, or churches.

What does this mean for our future? Can we solve our major national problems or overcome serious challenges without strong bonds of societal trust?

And, in fact, do such levels of distrust actually fuel additional problems? Is the mistrust itself a cause of deeper struggles? Meaning: will every difficulty quickly spin into crisis, simply because the level of suspicion and cynicism won’t allow us to come together and work toward constructive solutions? This isn’t just a Washington problem, it’s a true societal problem.

One thing is certain: the era of major trust in big institutions is clearly over.

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How Freedom Might Win in 2016

February 14th, 2015 // 8:18 pm @

 The New Field

20111125_rockwellFreedomSpeechI was wrong. I thought Mitt Romney would run in 2016, but he declined. Where does this leave the election? More importantly, with a large field of potential candidates, is there a path for freedom? Meaning, can someone like Rand Paul who really believes in applying the Constitution in our modern times actually win?

The definite answer is “maybe.” But, more than any election since at least the 1980s, there is a narrow chance of this happening in 2016.

To explore this, we need to clearly understand two important points.

Charisma and Coolidge

First, in every presidential general election the most likeable candidate wins. Always. And in presidential politics “likeable” means both “fun, cool, engaging” and also that a majority of voters believe the candidate really cares about them.

This reality isn’t negotiable. The U.S. electorate always chooses the most likeable candidate for president. So if a Republican candidate isn’t more likeable to the general electorate than Hillary Clinton, he or she won’t win.

Second, there are two major groups of Republicans running for the White House: Establishment Republicans and Serious Freedom-Lovers. It’s been over thirty years since a Serious Freedom-Lover won the presidency. Since 1988, Republican nominees have been a long list of Establishment Rep’s: Bush I, Dole, Bush II, McCain, Romney. And before Ronald Reagan, Republican presidents were all Establishment Rep’s through Ford, Nixon, Eisenhower, and all the way back to Freedom-Lover Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s.

In the 2016 Republican primaries, Establishment votes will naturally split between candidates such as Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and John Kasich.

Likewise, Freedom-Lover votes will be divided between people like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, etc. And a few potential candidates might appeal to both sides, like Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Carly Fiorina.

Where the Votes Sit

So what does this all mean for the Republican primaries as they select a nominee to face Hillary Clinton in the general election? While it’s still early, a few things are becoming increasingly clear:

  • The Establishment Rep’s will tend to centralize their support behind one of the following: Jeb Bush, or perhaps Chris Christie, John Kasich, Scott Walker, or Marco Rubio. It is most likely Bush’s to lose, or Kasich’s, Rubio’s, or Walker’s to win.
  • The Freedom-Lover wing of the GOP will most likely split between various candidates, not concentrating strong support for any one person.
  • But the only path to victory by a Serious Freedom-Lover is for voters in this wing of the party to centralize support behind one or at the most two candidates.

Currently, based on the polls, Republicans with a reasonable chance of becoming president are Bush, Rubio, Christie, Paul, and Walker. Let’s compare how each of these do on likeability in the general election:

 

Candidate Youth  Independents Latinos Swing State Voters Overall GeneralElection Likeability
Bush Weak Medium Strong Medium Medium
Christie Medium Weak Weak Medium Weak
Paul Strong Strong Medium Strong Strong
Rubio Strong Medium Strong Strong Strong
Walker Weak Medium Weak Medium Medium

 

These can, of course, change as the election unfolds. But the problem for Republicans, as it has been since 1992, is that the factors that make a candidate strong in the GOP primaries are very different than those that make them strong in the general election. Compare:

 

Candidate Likeability in Most GOP Caucuses and Primaries Likeability in General Election
Bush Strong Medium
Christie Strong Weak
Paul Medium Strong
Rubio Medium Strong
Walker Strong Medium

Chains…and Weak Links

In other words, the Republicans have a structural problem. They look for different things in selecting a nominee than the general electorate looks for in choosing the president. Using this system, candidates who are Strong in the GOP primaries are usually Weak or Medium in the generals, while candidates who are Strong in the generals are Medium or Weak in the GOP primaries.

In contrast, the Democrats look for the same things in the primaries that the voters look for in the generals. This is a significant advantage for the Democrats. If Hillary Clinton were added to the chart above, for example, and the heading were changed to “Electability in the Democratic Primaries,” she would rate Strong in both the primaries and the general election. Elizabeth Warren would rate Strong in both as well. Joe Biden would rank Medium in the primaries and Weak in the general—which is why Democrats won’t make him their nominee.

In 2008 Barack Obama rated Strong in both, while McCain (in normal Republican fashion) was Medium in the primaries and Weak in the generals. Romney in 2012 ranked Medium in the primaries and Weak in the general among women, youth, swing state voters, independents and Latinos.

2016 could prove unique because two of the top five potential Republican nominees rank Strong in general election likeability. This is especially significant because they are both strong in the Serious Freedom-Lover camp. But winning the nomination will certainly be an uphill battle for them.

******************

odemille The Bedrock of Freedom: The Ben Carson vs. Rand Paul Debate by Oliver DeMille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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The Bedrock of Freedom: The Ben Carson vs. Rand Paul Debate by Oliver DeMille

February 13th, 2015 // 9:27 am @

Measles, Vaccinations, Common Core,
and the Deeper Issue We’re All Experiencing

randpaulThe disconnect right now is tearing our nation apart. Over and over, people engage in the Surface argument, while the Deeper issue is actually a lot more important.

For example, consider the national discussion of whether the government should mandate vaccinations against measles and other similar diseases. The Surface issue is whether vaccinations are safe, or whether in some cases they are hurtful to a child. But the Deeper issue is much more important: Who should make the decision about vaccinations for your children? Government? Or you as the parents?

I recently watched two interviews with U.S. presidential hopefuls that clearly illustrate this point. In the first interview, Ben Carson was asked about measles and vaccinations. He stated that vaccinations should be firmly mandated by government for all children. Period.

Rand Paul took a slightly different approach. He said that vaccinations work and that children should be vaccinated, but that the more important issue is this: Government doesn’t own such decisions about children, parents do. Parents should have the final say.

Both of these men are medical doctors, and both have a history of commitment to the principles of freedom. But in this case, one called for government mandates and the other called for sticking with freedom. Very interesting.

Force and Reason

Ben Carson went on to say that the idea that vaccinations are widely damaging has been debunked, but then he added an interesting point. He said that of course a few children are allergic or otherwise react poorly to vaccinations, but overall the benefits of widespread vaccination are worth it.

That’s reasonable. But, if reason is to be our guide, which of the following is more reasonable:

1-Educating the populace about the scientific facts, then using government force to mandate what parents must choose for their children?

2-Educating the populace about the scientific facts, then letting parents make choices for their children?

This illustrates the current growing division between those who generally trust the government and those who usually distrust it. This disconnect is now a major feature of our nation. It shows up in numerous important issues, including:

1-The government should mandate Common Core across the nation to raise standards for schools and students.

   Vs.

2-Parents should have the final say on whether or not Common Core is good for their specific children.

Or:

1-The police are justified in using deadly force as needed, because law enforcement is paramount and force is frequently necessary—and police and government agents are nearly always in the right.

   Vs.

2-The community should be very vigilant about any use of force by the police to ensure that it was truly justified, because police forces and governmental agencies sometimes overstep their bounds and aren’t held accountable.

To Trust or Not to Trust

America is split, more each year, by these two major perspectives: “We almost always trust the government to do the right thing,” versus “We don’t usually trust the government to do the right thing.”

Through most of the 20th Century, by the way, an average of 78% of Americans held the first view (trust), while today only 23% of Americans believe the government will do the right thing most of the time. That’s a huge change.

And clearly the disconnect isn’t partisan. It divides both major parties, and it also divides independents. Just look at Common Core, for example. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are strongly against it, while Jeb Bush is a firm supporter. Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee supported it at the state level and then opposed it when it became a federal program. And all of these men are leading Republicans.

Or look at the vaccination issue. Some of the strongest supporters of government mandates are top Democratic politicians, while many of the communities with the lowest rates of vaccination (and highest levels of anti-vaccination activism) are university neighborhoods dominated by progressive faculty and administrators.

On the Right, many Republican voters demand that everyone get vaccinated, while a vocal opposition calls mandatory vaccination a socialistic plot. Ben Carson versus Rand Paul, so to speak, but spread through the population regardless of party.

Now, change the Surface issue, from, say, vaccinations to police use of deadly force in Ferguson, Cleveland, or New York, and the sides quickly shift.

Bad Comparisons

Here’s another example:

1-The government should regulate and then force the education of all children ages 5-16.

   Vs.

2-Parents should have the right to make the final educational decisions for their family.

This one clearly hits very close to home, but the divide is still there. Ben Carson said something really interesting while he was making his case for mandatory vaccinations. He compared them to seatbelt laws and also laws against texting while driving. I like Ben Carson, so this surprised me because these two things shouldn’t be treated the same. (He probably would have clarified this if he had time to elaborate.)

The main intent of “don’t text while you drive” laws is to protect other people from bad driving, while the focus of seat belt laws is to protect the driver.

In the case of Common Core, supporters often speak as if their major goals are to improve society, while many parents who dislike Common Core care mostly about the education of their own children. And pro-vaccinators often cite public health statistics at the same time that anti-vaccination parents point to anecdotal examples where specific children were harmed.

Simplicity and Standards

This all makes sense, if we take the time to really consider it. In short, those thinking in terms of the mass population naturally overlook the specific, individual cases (“they’re just anecdotal”) while many a concerned parent logically ignores the statistical tables (“my son isn’t just a number”) and focuses on the potential danger if her child just happens to be one of those who is harmed.

Both views have merit. Both are reasonable. Both make sense. But back to our original question: To whom are we going to give the final say?

The answer depends on what level of society is best equipped to deal with each specific situation. Consider:

  • If it’s a question about nuclear attack or foreign invasion, the federal government was designed to deal with it.
  • If it’s a question of crime or direct danger to everyone, it’s a state or provincial issue.
  • Or, if anything in level B can be handled more effectively at a local level, it should be.
  • If it’s about what’s best for an individual’s education, prosperity, or health, let the individual choose. This is the essence of freedom. If it’s about children, let’s trust the parents.

This simple little system is essential to freedom. Without such standards, freedom is quickly lost.

The Level

So, let’s get specific. Do the measles meet the “danger to everyone” level in B or C above? No. So leave such health decisions to the parents. Same with Common Core. Of course, if Ebola is the issue, level B kicks in because it truly is a “direct danger to everyone.” It may even be level A, depending on the circumstances. But Common Core and the measles are nowhere near level A. Not even close.

In fact, this system of doing things at the right level, and only at the right level, is the key to maintaining freedom and applying wisdom on nearly every issue. For example:

-Seat belts? Level D.
-Drunk driving or text-driving? Level B. (It would be level C if people didn’t travel very much, but in our current world conditions, if every local area has a different law, far too many drivers will be confused and the laws will be ineffective at protecting the life and liberty of others.)
-Police using deadly force? Level B.
-Oversight of any use of deadly force? Levels A-D.
-Compulsory school laws? Level D only. Seriously, leave to families those things best handled by families.
-Dedicated study and wise oversight of all laws? Level D.

This isn’t just the Deeper level; it is the bedrock of freedom.

******************

odemille President Obamas Free College Tuition Plan Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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President Obama’s Free College Tuition Plan

January 30th, 2015 // 5:42 pm @

Some (Widespread) False Traditions about College, Grades, and Career

A Good Plan?

collegePresident Obama proposes making two years of community college free for everyone. As The New York Times reported (“Expanding Community College Access”), the Administration’s “preliminary plans…call for an estimated $60 billion in new spending over ten years…” That’s right. Just throw more money at it and things will get better, right?

Actually, no. What if, instead, we didn’t raise taxes $60 billion for the program (plus the extra funds necessary to administer it) and left these resources in the hands of the private economy?

This gets to the crux of one of our deepest and most pressing problems today. When we see a need in society—almost any need, it turns out—someone proposes a government program. The costs of such programs, and the regulations of implementing them, make our economy less inviting for investors and innovators. Naturally, jobs, capital, and opportunities go to other nations.

The result? The economy struggles even more. And, behold, a politician in Washington takes note of the increased struggles and suggests yet another economy-killing government program.

This downward cycle is literally fueling our national decline. These types of government programs have had real results: Where one wage earner in a household made enough for the family to live on in the 1950s, today it takes two wage earners plus a steadily increasing amount of debt for households to pay for a lesser standard of living.

Cause and Effect

Such government programs are touted as real benefits, but the more of them we implement in society, the wider the gap grows between the rich and the rest.

If this new community college program is adopted, the results are predictable:

  • The quality of community college education will decrease (just as high schools did when government made them free and ubiquitous)
  • More community colleges will be built (requiring tax increases)
  • Fewer educational entrepreneurs will offer true educational innovations
  • More people will get two years of college
  • Two years of college will become much less beneficial
  • More young adults will live in their parent’s basement—for longer
  • S. citizens will lose more jobs to international competitors
  • The U.S. standard of living will further decline
  • There will be a few good community colleges, and a lot more poor ones, and national leaders will talk incessantly about “solving the community college crisis”
  • The quality of education in most high schools (not just community colleges) will further decrease

“But how can you say these things?” the proponents of the new program will ask. “More jobs today require some college education, so how can free community college be anything but a great plan?”

Actually, more jobs require a higher level of education. But calling it “college education” is just labeling. The level and quality of education students received in four years of high school in 1930 or 1953 was higher than nearly all college juniors have today.

Why did high school education decline? Mostly because of the many government programs that got in the way of market forces and educational quality.

So why are we proposing more of them? We shouldn’t be.

Part II: The Real Issue

But let’s go deeper into college education. Specifically, let’s deal with the real issue. The true concern. It is right in front of us, but only a few people are talking about it. This is vitally important.

Sometimes our most common beliefs in society turn out to be wrong, or at least different from the reality. For example, a lot of young people today are told that the key to a successful life is a good career, and the way to ensure a good career is getting into a good college, picking the right major, and getting good grades.

Many high school and even elementary students busily study each night to prepare for the SATs and such life success—based on this oft-repeated promise. They spend years sure that good grades will lead to promotions, wealth and status.

But the truth is often very different. A report from the Chronicle of Higher Education showed the reality of what employers look for when hiring:

  • “Health care companies care most about your major”
  • “White-collar companies care the most about your GPA”
  • “Media and communication companies are gaga for internships and…indifferent toward your classes”

This is not what most young people are told—by teachers, school administrators, academic counselors, even parents. How can they make good career-prep choices when most of what they are told about the relationship between schooling and career success is inaccurate or at best incomplete?

The Scale

I’ve long taught that schooling should focus on great education, not the growing trend of “hire education,” but this view is in the minority. Many people believe the main purpose of education is career prep, and students are often frustrated when the reality turns out to be something different.

In an economy where many graduates are already without jobs, these false traditions (e.g. “the key to a successful life is a good career, and that comes from attending a prestigious college, picking the right major, and getting good grades”) take on increased importance. Many young people believe in these ideas as promises, not urban myths.

The Chronicle of Higher Education report showed the following (ibid.):

  • On a scale of 1 to 100, the importance of your college’s reputation to prospective employers is 5.

Not 85. Not 55. Not 50. Not even 15. Just 5. How can 5 out of 100 be worth all the focus people give it?

  • Using the same scale, the importance of your GPA is 8.

That’s right, 8. All the work, the effort, the tears and struggles to get top grades, and they’re only an 8 to employers? Not 8 out of 10, mind you, but 8 out of 100! As top students know, the difference in work and effort required between A- and A is about the same as between C and A-. So, it’s no surprise that students are stunned to learn how little employers actually think or care about grades.

  • Even your college Major only scores 13 on this scale.

But it gets worse. This score of 13 is actually driven up by the health care industry. If your career is in health care, it’s quite a bit higher, but if you’re in a different industry, it’s much lower.

In short, for most people, the gatekeepers that bring you in to (or keep you out of) a great career don’t care about what school you went to, your GPA, or your major.

The Forgotten “Why”

So what do prospective employers look at? Again, according to the Chronicle report:

  • The number one thing is internships.
  • Number two is employment experience.

Really? Then why are so many young people counseled to avoid work and put all their time into getting good grades? And why are they told to put most of their efforts into admittance to the most prestigious schools?

The focus should be on internships and work experience. Amazing.

This is a major departure from what most educators tell their students. It’s very interesting, and something any parent should consider.

It also brings me back to my original view. Use schooling, reading, and other learning to get a great, truly excellent education. That’s why schools were invented, after all. The rest is, literally, minor. The research now proves it.

The Real Solution

The solution—unless you work in the health care field—isn’t two more years of government-funded schooling, but better education in the years before college. Followed by the same increased quality during college, or even instead of college. We don’t need more mediocre schooling—we need a drastic improvement in what we already have. Seriously.

Get a great education before you turn 18 by reading, studying, digging into the classics, etc.—and then continue it in college or working directly with great mentors instead of college—and don’t let 5%, 8%, and <13% things like the “right” school, GPA, and the “right” major determine (or get in the way of) your education.

And, along the way, get some great experiences with internships and work experiences. Include a number of important classics in your reading. This will bump your whole education to a higher level, and with a better education and better experiences, your career options will only improve.

This is the real solution, regardless of whether or not the government adopts some costly new education program that won’t help very much and will in fact send a lot more capital, innovation, and jobs abroad. The program will only make things harder—for education, and for the economy.

Washington, please keep this plan to yourself. Literally: Put your kids through it if you want. Leave the rest of the economy alone.

Oh, and parents, pass this along to young people. A great education will greatly boost your career prospects, and for most careers a great education is not the same thing as your college, major, or GPA. Not at all. Whatever you do about these things, do what it takes to get a great education.

******************

odemille The Main Source of the American Decline Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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The Main Source of the American Decline

January 23rd, 2015 // 7:04 am @

Land of the Free  Land of Decay

Colosseum_in_Rome,_Italy_-_April_2007These days, the word “decline” is frequently used to describe the United States. Where “China” is often paired with words and phrases like “rising,” “new superpower,” and “number one,” a different set of adjectives show up when the U.S. is discussed.

This trend recently reached a new low when the cover story on Foreign Affairs was entitled, “See America: Land of Decay and Dysfunction.”

Wow! And we thought “decline” was bad. But decay? And dysfunction? That’s hitting below the belt.

It gets even more interesting, however.

The Players and The Played

The article goes on to suggest that the cause of this “decay” and “dysfunction” is the power of various special interest groups. This is a popular argument, mainly because almost everyone loves to blame special interest groups.

But this proposition bears scrutiny. Indeed, if special interest groups really are the reason for America getting off track, it is one of the most important topics of our time.

In reality, however, something else is at play here. Yes, of course, special interest groups are a serious problem to the precise extent that they “control” government. But why do they control our government? Who allows this? It certainly isn’t written in the Constitution.

Francis Fukuyama, who wrote the Foreign Affairs article, notes that the classic book The Semisovereign People gets to the heart of our challenge. In short, voters are highly swayed by the two big political parties, by the media, and by special interest groups. Special interest groups “control” Washington because they set out to control the parties and the media.

The Madisonian idea of sovereignty in the people (that the voters have the final say in who their leaders are, and what their leaders can and can’t do) is undermined when voters are easily swayed. Period.

Semisovereignty—where the voters do what special interests convince them to do through the media and political parties—is an entirely different political arrangement. It is more like an aristocratic, elite, oligarchy than a democratic republic.

That’s where we are today. And, in according to this analysis, it is the source—not merely a source, but the root—of our decline, decay, and dysfunction. The voters, in this view, don’t know better than to vote as they are told by the interest groups, parties, and media.

This causes them to mistrust government, vote against higher taxes, and remain frustrated with Washington—no matter what it does. The touted “solution?” Be more like a European parliamentary system.

Sadly, too many people are buying in to this flawed narrative.

The problem with this entire analysis is that it is partially true, but not actually true. Meaning what?

Let’s get specific: The fundamental reason for decline, decay, and dysfunction is not a lack voter influence, but rather the exact opposite. American voters—the majority, at least—want more government services than they want to pay for. They want other people to pay for them.

Where We Build From

america_crumblingThey want their government services, and they want them on Henry the Fifth terms. In other words, the typical American voter (let’s call him Tom) wants Washington to cut other peoples’ government programs—but none that directly benefit Tom or his family. That’s the crux of our decline and decay. Pure and simple.

Tom votes for the candidate promising that Tom’s favorite government programs will be protected while Alice’s “socialistic” programs will be cut. Alice, in turn, votes for the candidate who supports her “essential” government benefits while promising to cut Tom’s “greedy” or “imperialistic” programs.

Political parties, special interest groups, and media only dominate American politics because Tom and Alice—and a majority of other voters—take this approach. And our decline is assured if the cost of our government programs continues to depend primarily on debt.

Until Tom and Alice, or a majority of voters are willing to elect candidates who will end our debt-dependence and spend within our means (however hard the choices), the parties, lobbies, and media outlets will continue to sway the vote.

Don’t let the media, or anyone else, fool you. We are in decline because the electorate refuses to make the hard choice of fiscal and moral responsibility. Until we do, we’ll be a nation based fundamentally on debt—not principle.

Such a nation is…always…a nation in decline, decay, and dysfunction.

 

For solutions, see Oliver’s new book: The U.S. Constitution and the 196 Indispensable Principles of Freedom

******************

odemille  Americas Looming Crash: Special Report Parts I, II, III Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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