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Friday, December 12, 2008

Thoughts on Politics as Usual

George Will writes The Last Word regularly for Newsweek. This week is a particularly good article and I wanted to share some of Mr. Will's insights with you.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940) An American radical (yeah, they had them back in the day) said that if elections changed anything, they would be illegal.

John Mueller, an Ohio State political scientist in his book "Capitalism, Democracy & Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery" celebrates "the ascendancy, the curious and unexhilarating triumph, of the pretty good over the ideal. A pretty good institution "can function adequately when people are rarely, if ever, asked to rise above the ignorance and selfishness with which they have been so richly endowed by their creator".

"Democracy, is a from of government in which people are left (equally) free to become politically unequal." "Democracy functions not so much by rule by the majority as by minority rule with majority acquiescence."

James Madison wrote in Federalist paper 45 .."The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal government are few and defined." So, in 1887, President Grover Cleveland vetoed the Texas Seed Bill, which appropriated $10,000 to purchase seed grain for drought-stricken farmers. Cleveland said: "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution."

Calvin Coolidge wrote in the 1930's.. "We save our money and take no chances in its investment. Yet in our political actions we go in an opposite direction."

"As usual. people are saying we must end 'politics as usual.' And as usual, few wonder why such politics are usual."

1 comment:

  1. I like the issues that George Will brings up but I am afraid I don't understand what conclusions are being offered via his perspective.

    For example, how exactly one is supposed to prevent a government from responding to people's needs for certain services, and how, in a capitalist economy, can a government that is responding to the needs of people avoid having to deal with private interests that provide and manage the resources that help supply and fulfill those needs? I know what the response will be --- that people should use the private companies' services directly by paying for them but that's just ridiculous. (More on my blog post at


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