One thing is becoming increasingly clear: the forces seeking to destroy constitutional self-government and impose socialism on the people of the United States appear to have underestimated the intelligence and will of the American people. The town hall uprisings have roused an arrogant, angry reaction from the Obama faction’s political and media hacks. It reeks of surprised indignation. ‘How dare these people prove more intelligent and feisty than we expected?’ they seem to say. Their surprise more and more appears to be the only thing about them that is not insincere; that and their hunger for power.
It appears that many successful public figures in America have a quiet but deep contempt for the people whose support and adulation makes their apparent success possible. People who reach for fame and public applause often seem to suffer from a stubborn sense of vulnerable inferiority. They need public attention as an antidote to their own feelings of worthlessness. But as they receive the attention they crave, those feelings lead them to regard their own lives as a skillfully executed con game, in which they have sold hapless suckers stock in what they themselves feel to be a worthless enterprise. This leads them to conclude that people fool enough to be manipulated into supporting and admiring them will fall for anything.
A manipulative mentality dominates the competition for public power that today we mistakenly refer to as ‘politics’. It affirms and feeds this contempt for ‘the public’. Fortunes are made selling wealthy elites on the notion that, using the right polls and focus groups, expert consultants can figure out the goads and spurs of public reaction. Then they can package malleable individuals into candidates who will achieve the desired electoral response. The package may be empty, or its contents diametrically opposed to any real public good. But in this scheme of things, the outward appearance is all that matters, though it be entirely fictional.
So far the political result suggests that the consultants have delivered on their promises. People at the town meetings may raise chants intended to remind officeholders that “You work for us.” But given the way politics works these days that makes no more sense than it would for the clay to tell the pottery “We made you what you are.” In contemporary politics, the money powers, and the media they manipulate are the hands that mold the body politic until it accepts an image of leadership that no more serves the people than the pottery serves the clay.
In order to escape the domination of these manipulative forces, people will have to rediscover the resources that allow them to fashion- of, by, and for themselves- a political leadership that serves their common good. But what resources exist that allow people to resist the manipulation of their apparent desires and remember instead the goods that correspond to their true selves? The answer: resources that lie beyond manipulation because they reflect a standard of good that does not depend on malleable passion; resources that arise in connection with our respect for truths that confirm a source of meaning for our existence that subsists beyond the perishing satisfactions of the moment, but not beyond the reach of our conscience or goodwill. Content to judge leaders by the empty rhetoric they use to titillate our selfish passions, we will end up being judged, by those very passions, as fit only for slavery. But if we judge instead in light of the standard established by the Creator God who fashioned us for liberty, the discipline we accept in the judgment will help to keep us truly free; that and the faith that makes it possible.