Is America’s Ship of State Floundering?
The “ship of state” is an oft-cited metaphor that first appeared in Book IV of Plato’s Republic. Plato (424-347 BC) likened the governance of the state to the command of a ship. He argued that the only men fit to captain this ship are members of the intelligentsia, who vested with absolute power, will act magnanimously and this in turn will create a better society.
America has become a ship of state in the sense of Plato’s ideal Republic, only rather than being controlled by benevolent philosopher kings, the American people are under the thumb of unelected bureaucrats who regard themselves as a political elite class; men and women who know better than we do about the things to affect our lives, our families, and our communities.
Rather than one beneficent dictator, we are today governed by hundreds of little dictators, all of whom, individually and collectively, exercise absolute power over us. Whenever one of these little dictators goes away, for whatever reason, they are quickly replaced by another just like him (or her).
There are 18 million people working in government —more people than work in all the factories in the United States. Of these, around 15 million work for state and local government with the balance working for the federal government.
Eighteen million people who depend on American taxpayers for their salaries, their retirement benefits, their medical care, so it makes sense that these employees largely support Democrats because they benefit from the tax and spend policies of Democrat politicians at every level of government.
People always vote in their own perceived interests. The more money there is to spend, the more money there is for salaries and benefits. In the federal government, the largest nest of these snakes resides within the State Department; in second place the Postal Department.
That’s the situation in America today. How we arrived at our present condition involves several significant events occurring in the 1960s —each one contributing to the division of the American people and their Republic, which seems to have been the primary goal of the Democratic Party since its inception in 1828.
- In 1940, only one American male in fifty attended college or university, so it was not a major consideration in granting college/university students deferments from military service. Twenty to twenty-five years later, the number of young men attending college was close to half of the male population. Within the US population, young men who attended college were deferred from mandatory military service in the Vietnam War. If one happened to be a mechanic, a grocery clerk, an electrician, a plumber, or a bulldozer operator —those who either couldn’t afford to attend college, or had no interest in doing so, went conscripted and shipped off to war. This completely unfair system created the notion that wealthy people (those who could afford college) were better than those who toiled in the trades. These wealthy people internalized this, and people of less means resented it. Psychologically, it set into motion the now-frequent mantra of rich vs. poor, us vs. them in the United States.
- During Jack Kennedy’s presidency, women were essentially united in their womanhood. Most women believed that the ideal age for marriage was around 27-years of age. No one back then thought that “never” was the correct answer. In 1960, only 15% of married women, and 16% of single women believed that it was “okay” to have an extramarital affair. But then the feminist movement evolved, and women were placed into two categories: married women (believing in the traditional role of womanhood), and unmarried women (having no interest in long-term relationships with men).
- In 1964-65, President Lyndon Johnson badgered members of Congress into passing two acts: the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965). On their face, there is nothing untoward about equal rights under the law. But the result of these acts was the emergence of bureaucracies that usurped the United States Constitution and redefined democratic republicanism.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The effects of civil rights legislation were several, of course, but its result was the concentration of power inside Washington, D. C., handing to bureaucrats the authority to create new laws, and enforce these laws through federal prosecution. Bureaucrats created new crimes, making discrimination (for example) illegal in almost every aspect of American society.
They revoked our Constitutional right of association and free speech. The Supreme Court ruled that all speech is protected, particularly offensive speech, but bureaucrats overturned case law by defining “hate speech” and then making it a federal crime. New agencies were created to hunt down American law breakers, haul them into court, and demand retribution in the form of prison sentences or heavy fines.
The enlightened philosopher-dictators gave us the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, a massive expansion of the Civil Rights Commission. It spread like a cancer so that within a short time, each agency of the government had its own branch of the EEOC.
It placed the federal bureaucracy in the position of dictating to all other government agencies, federal, state, or local, as well as to private enterprises with more than fifteen employees, how they would hire, reprimand, or terminate employees. To help facilitate this, elitist agency heads —those who know better than everyone else— helped disgruntled employees file federal lawsuits. America’s judges fell into line, of course.
The effect of this usurpation of our constitutional rights was that it changed how Americans made decisions affecting their “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.”
The Voting Rights Act, in seeking to give equal voting rights to all Americans, actually created different rights for citizens depending upon where one happened to live in the United States. The spirit of the law was to shame southern states (at the time mostly run by Democrats) into compliance with laws imposed by northern Democrats. Lyndon Johnson pushed hard for this legislation; he needed blacks voting Democratic and he succeeded.
In any case, most of America had no problem with desegregation; it was a problem in the south, not in Michigan. What the people of Michigan didn’t know was that the laws written to address southern issues would soon affect them as well.
When racial segregation was halted, federal power was not suspended —it was increased. For example, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there was no mention of racial quotas for public schools. That came later —at the direction of a bureaucrat. Busing children wasn’t in the original legislation, either. It came about because school districts could not fulfill their federally mandated racial quota. Judges decided this issue, not the people.
And then government dictators demanded affirmative action, a program where exceptionally qualified candidates for educational programs were denied entry in order that remarkably unqualified applicants could gain admission. Even when the courts sided with exceptionally qualified complainants, they never got around to changing what has evolved as one of the United States’ more idiotic demands.
But affirmative action was working well enough to feed the irrational extremism of the federal bureaucracy. Suddenly, civil rights legislation was feeding the never-satiated demands of immigration advocates. The American people never voted for bilingual education at their expense, Congress never included it in the original legislation, but the Supreme Court upheld some bureaucrat’s decision in 1974. What was this bureaucrat’s name? No one knows.
Civil rights policy even came to overrule legislation that had nothing to do with civil rights law. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 is an example of this … intended to become the foundation upon which modern immigration policy would evolve.
Three million illegal immigrants from northern Mexico were granted amnesty and citizenship, but to ensure that immigration never again got out of hand, strict laws and harsh penalties would force employers to avoid hiring non-citizens. It was a sham, however, because civil rights law prohibited employers from asking potential employees, who looked Hispanic, their place of birth or immigration status; there was, as a practical matter, no bar to illegal immigration.
In time, the bureaucrats took over; the people no longer control their own destinies through elected representatives. Johnson’s civil rights laws have replaced the U. S. Constitution; it gave administrators and judges the power to override the normal course of constitutional democracy.
It gave them the power to declare national emergency on the basis of morality, rather than defensive exigency —which is to say, usurping the power of the American people on humanitarian grounds rather than on enemies gathered at the gate.
But before this was possible, bureaucrats had to create a class of officially recognized scoundrels. It is by now a well-established pattern, widely adopted by federal bureaucracies, to guarantee a future demand for their continued services
We began this journey intending to ensure that black Americans enjoyed the same rights and privileges of citizenship as every other citizen, but where we are now extends that noble cause into other areas of American life, insisting that citizens with no other sin than in believing the same things they did ten or twenty years ago conform to the demands of progressive bureaucrats who, as always, know better than the rest of us about everything.
Now, other groups are enabled to advance their cause by bureaucratic fiat-accompli and judicial decree, and this enables these disparate groups to form coalitions or electoral majorities. It is indeed possible because anyone who is not a white heterosexual can benefit from civil rights laws in some way.
It then becomes a matter of figuring out how to climb aboard the progressive band wagon. One clever ploy was the invention of the term “people of color,” a coalition organized against either non-people of color or people of non-color, with the intention of ensuring that white society gets a smaller share of America’s bounty.
We have two primary political parties in the United States (and an occasional assortment of others that have no political power at all beyond upsetting one of the two main groups). The parties consist of (a) individuals who perceive that they have benefitted from the Constitution (conservatives), and (b) individuals who perceive that they have been harmed by the Constitution (progressives). Conservatives insist that the federal government follow the law (Constitution), whereas progressives insist that the Constitution of 1787 is void and that we must instead throw our lot behind bureaucracies to achieve social justice.
But what have the bureaucracies given us beyond a floundering ship? What have they stolen? What must we do to right the ship?
That which is not good for the beehive cannot be good for the bees. —Marcus Aurelius
Mustang also blogs at Fix Bayonets and Thoughts From Afar