And there was no reason to be surprised by any of that. Federal judges had been invalidating referendums, elections and bills for a while on the grounds that they didn’t like them. For all the empty legalisms, it rarely came down to more than a political disagreement with the balance of power resting firmly with a handful of political appointees.
The idea that the country ought to be run by the people, rather than by the people who know best, lasted somewhere from Andrew Jackson and until shortly after the Civil War. It was buried in an unmarked grave with the political career of Theodore Roosevelt, whose ideas frightened the hell out of both parties.
We still have elections and we still have presidents and like referendums, these are things that we’re allowed to have so long as we don’t step too far out of line. In Europe, where third parties and fourth and fifth parties, are easier to organize, dangerously populist political movements are disqualified from public office. It would be nice to think that it couldn’t happen here, but it could and would.
For now the current system makes that a minimal risk scenario, but if the political elites woke up tomorrow morning to polling that showed that Congress and the White House were about to be claimed by a new third party committed to closing the border, ending all international agreements, ending Federal control over interstate commerce and shutting down the EPA; there would within short order be a whole bundle of rulings removing the party and its candidates from contention.
We’re allowed to have elections because we vote for Democrats or Republicans. The ballot box is a toy that we’re allowed to play with because we’ve shown that despite some scary moments, we won’t use it to burn down the system. If we ever did go rogue, the ballot box would be taken away from us, the bad names would get scrubbed off the lists and the administrators of the nanny state would then give it back to us with a stern warning to mend our ways.
This isn’t North Korea or Iran. Our elections are real for the most part. But so is gambling in Vegas. Just because the game is reasonably honest, doesn’t mean that it still isn’t rigged. The officials we elect and the officials they select, for the most part, follow the game plan of the social-welfare complex. They do what they are told and they make us do what we are told. That is their job. Electing them gives them influence over us. It doesn’t give us influence over them.
There’s no tyranny. No men with guns in dark rooms. Just a massive sprawling government whose scale and complexity no one can even begin to encompass. Each part of it is another bureaucratic fiefdom whose employees have long since learned to justify its existence and need for expansion. And the people we elect surround themselves with those employees and get their information from them. The framework of their worldview comes from that same bureaucratic empire.
A president can defy one arm of the social-welfare complex. He can take it on in a pitched battle, appoint a close ally to run it, purge its members and twist and turn it around to doing his bidding. And after that exhausting battle, not only will the department or agency eventually revert to form, but he will doubtfully have the energy and popularity to do it to more than a few departments or agencies. The social-welfare complex is just too big. It’s a deep state that runs the country pursuing liberal policies regardless of who is in office. While the military-industrial complex is regularly purged by liberals in the White House (the current one has wrecked the military and even space exploration while turning the military into a promoter of Green Energy and gay rights) the social-welfare complex hardly ever is. For one thing it’s too complex and is woven too deep into everything. When the radicals announced that they were going to switch from trying to blow up the system to working within the system, this is the system that they meant. It’s where government really happens, at that intersection between private think tanks and government agencies where the planning takes place and the proposals become policies and the policies are presented to whoever won the next election accompanied by spreadsheets and pie charts which explain that it’s the only answer, and if whoever it is dismisses it, they implement it anyway.