Arrias: Doom? Maybe Not

We’re doomed, if you listen to some folks. They may be right. There certainly are things going on that give you pause. But perhaps they’re miss-interpreting a few things.

The big stories this week were the President’s State of the Union address, the release of the memo from the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the 500+ point drop in the Dow.

But I’d point to the stridently partisan crowd during the State of the Union address.

It was particularly bizarre that almost half of Congress didn’t applaud when the President noted that black unemployment has never been lower. One could interpret that as Democrats don’t really want blacks to have jobs, unless Democrats create the jobs. Here’s a piece of advice from Ronald Reagan: “there’s no such thing as a bad piece of good news.” Lower unemployment among blacks is a good thing. Period.

But the underlying story the media is bleating is that, because of Trump, the government is separated from the people, people don’t trust the government, and that various elements of the government don’t trust each other. This, we are told, is an existential crisis.

Is it?

Start with this: we all really want the same thing: meaning in our lives, basic freedoms, food on the table, family taken care of, healthy kids, good schools, etc. And while a small percentage will insist these be provided, the vast majority understand there needs to be real jobs, real workers and real wages and that the government can’t just mandate these things.

So, could it be the reason we’re at each other’s throats is misunderstanding about what is now another common belief?

There are, arguably, three major blocks of the population. One block simply wants government to leave it alone. They go about their jobs, for the most part probably don’t vote, and are convinced the only thing they can do is keep their heads down and hope no one notices them. They don’t really trust government, but it’s a less strident level of distrust. Many of these folks occupy what might be called the middle of the spectrum.

Then, there’s a large block that believes government is, and pretty much always has been, out to get them. This is what the media refers to as the far right.

Finally, there are those who actively supported the government until Trump took over. Now, they’re convinced that Trump will undermine society and use government to destroy the nation.


The common theme here is fear of government. For some, it’s a new fear, having spent much of their lives convinced that government created, or at least government monitored, solutions are the best approach for nearly everything. For more than two decades their perspective on government was the dominant one. Suddenly, however, these folks have begun to fear government. To which I say: Good!

They are now in the same boat not simply with most Americans, they’re also in the same boat as the Founding Fathers.
If there’s one theme that runs through the Constitution it’s the idea that government powers at all levels must be limited, and they must be separated, because government can’t be trusted. James Madison, in the Federalist Papers (number 47) commented that: “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same hands… may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

When Congress lets authorities slip through its hands and flow to judges or to bureaucrats, they violate this tenet. When a president enacts, or pushes his departments to enact regulation after regulation, in an unchecked expansion of federal reach, he violates this tenet. Such has been the behavior of government for decades. Perhaps that is changing. And that’s a good thing.

The long and short of it is this: government – at any level: local, state or federal – is not to be trusted. As George Washington observed: “Government is not eloquence. It is force. And like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

We live in dangerous times. But it has always been so. Freedom isn’t easily preserved, we need to fight for it, every generation, every year, perhaps even every day. As Patrick Henry, noted: “Virtue will slumber. The wicked will be continually watching.”

Maybe what we’re seeing around the country is that some who were quite enamored of government until just recently are now waking up from their slumber. If so, that’s a good thing.

Copyright 2018 Arrias

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