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On the Veneration of Politicians: No one can save you

On the Veneration of Politicians: No one can save you

Reagan ain’t coming back

In 2012, I wrote about this subject. Post-election loss, desperate, and hopelessly facing President Obama’s second term, the idea of a political savior made its way in to mainstream though.

2016 is not 2012 (obviously), but for different reasons than before, there’s a collective hunt for the one man who will save the republic. For some that man is Trump, for others, he’s an unnamed hero waiting in the wings.

Real talk: He (or she) is not coming. There will be no Reagan incarnate, no William F. Buckley the Greater, no zombie Goldwater. No one person can save us from our current predicament.

Most recently, many distraught by the prospect of a Trump nomination are desperately seeking a solution elsewhere.

After expressing his opinion that Americans ought not be saddled with two terrible choices when a third is acceptable, Senator Ben Sasse found himself the immediate object of adoration and idolatry.

While I appreciate Senator Sasse and find several of my thoughts quite similar to his, I don’t enjoy ideology being tethered to and defined by one person (to be clear, third party players are running the Draft Sasse effort; Sasse says he has no plans of running for President this cycle). The principles and ideas that made America America transcend one man, survive terrible leadership, war, tumult, and live on for generations to come. Freedom and liberty are not ideals of government; they’re the rights of the individual.

There are several fascinating and disturbing components of this hero hunt, but we’ll focus on two. 1) The right has adopted the belief of the Presidency as an all-powerful station and 2) one ruler is the anti-venom to progressivism. Neither notion is congruent with individualism or Constitutionalism, both of which are central to the limited-government belief.

One of the most brilliant feats of our Constitution is how it separated powers into co-equal branches of government. The founders did not design one branch more powerful than the others. Leadership is important, of course. But Constitutionally, Presidents do not legislate from the Oval Office. Congress must sift through their policy preferences first. And we should thank our lucky stars Congress was able to curb President Obama’s wildly progressive agenda in many instances. Politicians are employed for one very specific purpose — to serve those they represent. They are not leaders. They are not rulers. They work for us.

The powerful Presidency epidemic infected even the most conservative presidential candidates. Every single individual running for office this cycle had a honey-do list to check off during their first day in the White House. Those lists included everything from repealing Obamacare to immigration reform. Few seemed to question how these noble goals might be achieved Constitutionally, rather, the right cheered in unison.

Interestingly, the insistence on Constitutionality has taken a back seat to finding the right ruler.

Our nation’s strength has never been in our government; it’s in our people. We’re hardwired to loathe government rule and lordship — it’s why we exist as a sovereign nation. It’s why we hold sacred the idea of Federalism and why we directly elect our local officials.

My time as a grassroots organizer exposed me to the oft-ignored underbelly of the right. That dark side consists of swaths of individuals who will not deign to raise one finger to assist in the unsexy, but crucial work of phone banking, block walking, relationship-building, volunteering etc. They’ll happily preach about individual responsibility, seemingly unaware they’ve become what they claim to despise. They cannot bother with incremental changes in their communities since they’re too busy waiting for their Conservative Messiah.

In 2012, I wrote:

We cannot look to an elected official as our answer, our salvation or the cure –no matter how many pledges he signs, which Tea Party groups endorse him, how balanced or well spoken he may be, or how Reaganesque he may seem. In placing so much stock in an elected official, the concept of the individual, the constituent, is lost. It was this very concept of the individual constituent that was at the core of our nation’s founding.

If we are the side that stands for the individual in all its facets (responsibilities, rights, liberties), then that must be the heart of our focus. We must agree to stop waiting for the second coming of Reagan and understand fully that it is only the pursuit of individual liberty and the ideal of individual liberty that will alter our course. It was this ideal that brought people from other nations, from all walks of life, out of oppression to the hope of being free. President Calvin Coolidge summed it up best in a speech he delivered in 1924, “Liberty is not collective, it is personal. All liberty is individual liberty.”

Regardless of who the people elect president, that individual serves the interests of the entire country — not only the people who supported their candidacy or share their value systems. No president can ignore progressivism entirely. Even Republican hero Reagan was not immune.

Too many spend their time and attention flustered about federal political goings on; we’ve largely lost our focus on individualism. Individuals make up families and communities. Individuals instigate change and innovation. Everything great about our country happens when individuals step up to the plate and push back against government overreach. All politicians, even the most Conservative, are still part of the government.

No one is coming to save you or me, for that matter. No politician will single-handedly fix our country — we don’t have a king (at least not in theory). No political party will swoop in to save the day. We are on our own. Frightening? Not really. More liberating than anything.

What I wrote Wednesday is relevant to this discussion as well, “The road ahead is rough and rocky, but I remain hopeful that America’s best days lie ahead. There is always hope, even when we struggle to see it. Elections are important and have consequences for supporters and dissenters alike, but our best hope of righting the ship is in how we live.”

Though trite, it’s a question I ask myself frequently — What am I doing to make a difference? The responsibility for our country is ours. It’s “we the people’s.” Not the government’s; not the President’s — ours.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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Every state needs a governor who will kick the feds out.

We had the most conservative candidate in two generations, but some people didn’t like how he talked, or that the establishment didn’t like him. Now instead, we’re going to get Hillary.
I wonder how that will advance the anti-immigration agenda. My guess is “it won’t.”

    Rick in reply to Matt_SE. | May 9, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    The masses have spoken, and they want a dictator.

    gulfbreeze in reply to Matt_SE. | May 10, 2016 at 11:14 am

    “We had the most conservative candidate in two generations, but some people didn’t like how he talked, or that the establishment didn’t like him.”

    Yeah, it couldn’t possibly be that Trump won because his messages were more effective and appealed to more voters.

    I didn’t support either candidate, but at some point conservatives may have to deal with the fact that either:

    1) Cruz’s loss was self-inflicted…he was not as effective at campaigning and communicating his message as Trump was, or
    2) GOP voters were not looking for a candidate that was a conservative ideologue, or
    3) in 2016, the Republican base is not as conservative as conservatives believe it is

    or some combination of the above.

Pretty weird stuff. You’re not getting Cruz, so the Presidency isn’t really all that important? Yes, weird is the word.

The President can stop the crime wave at the southern border. He has all the tools available now. INS, the Border Patrol, the Justice Department—they all work for him. He doesn’t have to wait for Congress or any court to get a move on. He doesn’t need any money from Congress to hire more personnel; they’re already there, sitting at their desks, waiting for the boss to tell them to get off their asses and do their jobs. The foot-draggers he’ll have to deal with. How about a good “You’re fired!”? That might work …

The President can stop the general lawlessness of all federal agencies. FBI, BATF, EPA, IRS, Justice—they all work for him. Not Congress, not the courts, not the governors.

The President can stop this annoying habit of surrendering to any and all foreign powers, as well as alien organizations such as the UN. Foreign negotiations and the drafting of treaties are up to him. The only caveat here is that the Senate does have to ratify treaties.

Republican presidents of the recent past have had the power to do all these things. But in the main, they’ve let us down. Hoping that the next Party animal will be an improvement is not a promising strategy. What the office needs is a man who won’t let the appartachiks who are nice and comfortable in their don’t-rock-the-boat positions tell him that anything useful he may want to do is just plain impossible. A man who’s worked with large numbers of employees before and has managed to get them to do what he determines needs to be done. Nothing illegal, no strong-arm stuff; just legit business.

Gosh, who in America might be able to do such a thing?

    Zachary in reply to tom swift. | May 9, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Very weird indeed, since she referenced her article from 2012 when Cruz was just a senator.

    inspectorudy in reply to tom swift. | May 9, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    You are wrong as usual. It is the fault of Congress that obama has gotten away with way too many things that he did not have the power to do. He can make threats and begin unlawful actions but it is up to Congress and the SCOTUS to make sure that the Constitution is followed. That is why it has always been so important to have a Congress and the WH of the same party if ideological goals are desired. This Congress has been an embarrassment not only to the people but the Constitution. Your friend and idol Trump will have the same problem, maybe even worse than obama, because his ego is so large that he cannot stand to ask anyone for advice or consent.

Is this supposed to make me willing to support slugs like McCain and Romney, and outright atrocities like Trump?

Poorly played.

That was really excellent Kemberlee. Thank you.

If the GOP survives this, it should have some kind of requirement like voting in its primaries for a decade for future presidential contenders.

inspectorudy | May 9, 2016 at 11:49 pm

I’ll say it again, TERM LIMITS is the only answer for career politicians that do not care which side wins as long as they get to keep their jobs in DC. We, the people, simply do not matter except every two to four years. They are like fat pigs at the trough. We can’t even get their attention unless it is an FBI investigation on their corruption. There will be no Knight on a White horse to save us. It will be done by the grassroots and from the bottom up.

The Republican party’s mismanagement of the illegal immigration issue is what created this situation, in my opinion, and that actually goes back to Reagan’s amnesty. It’s a complex issue and made more complex by the left’s usual tactics of complaining about racism or conflating illegal with legal immigration. And political outsiders have the advantage because they can make principled speeches with policy proposals that sound good to an unhappy electorate but would be impossible to pass or implement.

The simple, set in stone fact, is that illegal immigration is incompatible with a welfare state or even any shared government services of any kind. That’s a winning position for Republicans right there. You can’t have good schools, hospital emergency rooms, safe streets, new roads, subsidized health care, etc if anyone in the world can just show up and use them for free and contribute nothing. Even a moderate Democrat can understand that. You’re importing crime and poverty when our resources are already strained.

If that’s your starting position then yes, you have to shut down the sanctuary cities and deport people. Deportations now will stop new people from coming. But you also need the path to citizenship for people who have been here for a long time and can and are contributing. Because an immigrant with a job, speaking English, paying taxes, and raising a family isn’t the problem, they’re actually the solution. And even if they’re a sleeper cell terrorist, at least they’re on the radar. Yet the second any Republican mentions a path to citizenship they’re for “Amnesty” and at risk of getting booted as a sell out.

That’s the problem for the Republican party in a nutshell. Trump won’t solve it because either he’ll win and moderate his position or lose and stay a hard liner. So its up to the rest of Republicans to solve it.