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Political Mercenaries

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news about unemployment. The Democrat supporters in the press are spinning it as good news, in that things aren’t getting worse quite so fast as had been projected. Republican press supporters say yes, but it’s still getting worse, not better. It’s pretty clear that good news or bad news, the job situation outlook isn’t a cause for joy.

About two thirds of the American people now believe that the Economic Stimulus that the President was so proud of was a waste of money and did little good, according to the latest polls. Many formerly safe Congressional seats are now in doubt. Pride goeth before a fall; it is quite possible for the people to become so disgusted with the political system that they simply do nothing, meaning that those with the organizing resources to get out their vote – what political professionals call the ground game – will have even more power. Despair is a sin. So is complacency. If we are to restore self government, we need people willing to govern themselves. If we are to take back our government there must be people willing to take it back – and to be part of a new government. One of the benefits of self government is that not many think of it as a full time job. They have other lives. Yes, there will always be professional politicians; what must not happen is that the professional politicians also control the party structures. Self government means that the people governed take part in the whole governing structure; some hold political office, some become major party officials, some become minor party officials, some simply work a few hours a month on party matters; and those who do none of this pay attention to what is going on.

And as Tocqueville observed, much of what might be done by government is done by “the associations”: private organizations. Charities, neighborhood councils, civil defense, civic committees, etc.

Tocqueville called this “Democracy in America” but he was describing the Old Republic, not a democracy.

Machiavelli said that if Republics rely on mercenaries for their defense, they take great risks; better to have citizen soldiers. Today the danger is not from our Legions (although given the efforts being made by the existing government to make it difficult for them to vote in the elections, I suspect the Administration does in fact fear the Legions) but from our hired political class. We have opted to entrust our political lives to mercenaries: career politicians, political managers, paid operatives and organizers; what we used to call political machines. Having been a political manager – although I did not opt for that as a career, it was simply my turn to pay some political dues to this republic – I have some understanding of the political mercenaries. I had great respect for a few of them that I worked with. I greatly admired Lyn Nofziger, having worked with him on a couple of campaigns. I was impressed with the skills of many others, but (except for Lyn who was a ‘conservative Party Organizer) they were guns for hire, not people I wanted governing us.

Leaving government to mercenaries is at least as dangerous as leaving defense in the hands of hired guns.

More at jerrypournelle.com.

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