The Great Recession has caused a seismic shift in how ordinary Americans view their government. Perhaps you saw the story this week about an Arizona sheriff who, in speaking about the Justice Department suit against his state's new immigration law, said, "Our own government has become our enemy and is taking us to court at a time when we need help." Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu elaborated in an interview with CNSNews.com, saying, "What's very troubling at a time when we in law enforcement and our state need help from the federal government, instead of sending help they put up billboard-size signs warning our citizens to stay out of the desert in my county because of dangerous drug and human smuggling and weapons and bandits and all these other things and then, behind that, they drag us into court with the ACLU."
A surprisingly large majority of Americans have come to consider the government as a special interest — I would say, the biggest and most dangerous special interest of them all. Not Wall Street, not Big Oil, not labor unions or the NRA or any of the other usual suspects, but the government itself, which demands tribute and submission from all under its thumb. If it can't enforce immigration laws in Arizona, well, too bad. The state cannot fend for itself to fight the huge and costly problem of hordes of Mexicans illegally swarming over the border. The Obama administration says only the feds have the right to enforce immigration laws — or to be more accurate, reflecting reality, to not enforce them.
Political analyst and syndicated columnist Michael Barone talked with me early this week about how voters want our "super-sized" government to go on a crash diet. Evidence for this comes from a recent Rasmussen Poll showing that, when asked whether increased federal spending was good or bad for the economy, 52 percent of the likely voters sampled said it was bad and 28 percent thought it was good. If we go back to another poll in February, only 21 percent of voters nationwide believe the government rules with the consent of the governed; 71 percent believe the federal government is a special interest; and 70 percent believe that big government and big business typically work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.
There is an ominous gap between classes in how people view the governing apparatus. What Rasmussen deems "the political class," or what New York Times pundit David Brooks calls "the educated class," overwhelmingly, by 3 to 1, accepts the judgments of our rulers and agrees that bigger government spending is good for the economy.
We are led by fools who ignore the ample evidence history provides about the collapse of spendthrift societies. Such events abound. How is it they expect our overspending to end in other than disaster? You'd have to ask them, I guess. Or perhaps read the fantasies of Paul Krugman, the economist/columnist who believes the biggest problem with the stimulus spending is that there hasn't been nearly enough of it. His name is rarely mentioned without the fact that he is a Nobel Prize winner. He could have a room full of prizes, but anyone with a lick of common sense knows he's wrong on this. The few economists that warned that the credit explosion of recent years would hasten and deepen financial disaster were mainly from the so-called Austrian school and were derided by their Keynesian counterparts as kooks. Who looks kooky now?
The Constitution and most of the other documents of that time by the nation's founders had a common theme: that the interest of the citizens must be paramount over the interests of the consolidated government. That this has been reversed and that the Constitution has been willfully misinterpreted by generations of lawmakers, presidents and Supreme Court justices to our detriment is evident to more and more of us. The common theme among the "tea partiers," so maligned by "the educated class," is not the repeal of the Constitution but rather its restoration. And that they call seditious. The spin is dizzying. Election Day may turn out to be that "teachable moment" everyone is always talking about. What lesson it imparts remains to be seen.