Rebirth of Reason


On Respecting the Presidency
by Tibor R. Machan

After one congressman shouted out "liar" during President Obama's speech to
Congress the other evening, one of Mr. Obama's cheerleaders at The New
York Times intoned gravely that even if one disapproves of a given office
holder, one ought to show respect for the office. Well, not really, not
any more.

Suppose as a fan of the sport of baseball you have discovered that umpires
across the country have become corrupt. They take payoffs, get sloppy with
their calls, favor some players or teams based on personal prejudices and
biases, etc. It is all over the place, you notice. Your child, however, is
in Little League and the coach has invited a prominent umpire to give a
talk at some celebration. Given the widespread corruption among umpires,
you protest the invitation and when this is ignored by the powers that be,
you go to the event and shout out or carry some kind of sign of protest.
Those around you express dismay saying, well, yes, many, many umpires are
admittedly corrupt, but the office of baseball umpire should still receive

You then consider this and reply, well, the office may well be a good idea
but when it is filled with crooks, respecting it is no longer possible or
desirable. This reply holds in the case of politics, too.

In most countries it is pretty much a given that politicians are and have
for centuries been corrupt. This is true even in so called civilized
societies since politicians take bribes, payoffs, and favor special groups
of citizens rather than the citizenry as a whole. Here and there one may
find some poor, lone member of parliament who is doing his or her best to
keep to the straight and narrow but then he or she is promptly defeated
since what the public seems to want is not sticking up for principles but
bringing home the bacon.

There used to be some hope for America's politicians, albeit minimal,
because they were working in a system the basic principles of which aimed
at keeping power out of their hands, certainly the arbitrary type that
guarantees corruption among them all. The U. S. Constitution, with its
Bill of Rights and separation of branches, was intended to keep
politicians and their power in check. Alas, this intention has been
thoroughly subverted over time, if it ever had a chance in the first
place. Even in the time of Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln and other luminaries,
corruption was rampant, if only the kind that amounted to overstepping the
authority of the office these individuals were holding.

Today the entire field of politics, no matter which party is running the
show, amounts to nothing much better than an extortion racket. You vote
for me and I will let you have some money, favors, whatever; if you don't
vote for me, don't support my candidacy, I'll show you who is boss. Wealth
redistribution, the major task of national or local politicians--with
armies of bureaucrats ready to do the detailed work--simply has no way of
being done honorably. It is like asking bank robbers to be decent as they
divvy up their loot; it cannot be done--that "honor among thieves" bit is
an oxymoron from the get-go.

So don't preach about respecting the presidency when the presidency has
been in the hands of people who have used it mostly for larceny or worse.
That presidency has long lost its claim on anyone's respect. This is no
less so than it would be with being a baseball umpire or football referee
or judge at the Olympics if all those holding such offices caved in to the
temptation to violate the principles of their office. That is exactly what
the bulk of politicians across the country over the last several decades
have done, yielded to the temptation to subvert their office in the name
of various phony agendas, all of which masquerade as working for the
public interest. If you buy that one, I have a bridge for sale for you at
an excellent price!
The Promise of Liberty

The Promise of Liberty (Hardcover)

by Tibor Machan
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