The Warfare of Politics, Tribalism and the Inauguration
By: Steven Druckenmiller
Because of the nature of the United States Government and its over-involvement in the lives of its citizens, meaningful public debate about the political issues of the day has fallen by the wayside. In its stead is an “our side vs. their side” mentality, with no consistency or principles in either of the two dominant political parties. Citizens who cheer for the Republicans vote for and support anyone with an “R” next to their name, be they Rockefeller Republicans or the Robertson kind. It goes without saying, of course, that the same holds true for the Democrats, with the unsurprising discovery that neither side distinguishes itself on the important issues facing America. The tragic truth is that libertarians have it right when they call the politicians “Republicrats”.
Because of the increasing tribalism of politics, it is natural that worship of the chief and revelry of his victory has come to a fever-pitch. In the city of Washington, D.C., with its Soviet-esque landmarks that deify our “leaders”, the inauguration of the President was exceptional because of its brazen cost to install a leader who should be negligibly important, yet, it was also disappointingly consistent with the warfare of politics. With the increasing “team sports” mentality, it is almost no surprise that the Presidential Inauguration has become a twisted “Super Bowl” of the political world.
Why twisted? Because, we as Objectivists recognize that the actual Super Bowl is the recognizance of superiority, the summation of hard-work, effort and talent. What makes the inauguration so disgusting is that it is the celebration of the installation of a politician, someone who makes his living off of the backs of others, exploits individuals and sacrifices the common man to interest groups, all in the name of power. Instead of having true talent and ability, like football players, politicians have mastered the art of the “backroom deal”, that ubiquitous action in politics that always infringes on the rights of the individual to act for himself. Of course, the other idea that makes the Inauguration disturbing is that, while private businesses and viewers all voluntarily participate in the Super Bowl, we are all forced to finance the $100 million dollar tab it took to shut down the District.
Of course, the real question on every “lover of liberty’s” mind is: will it get worse? If the growth of the State goes unchecked, then yes, we can only expect for this kind of political worship to continue. In nations where the government was the people, it was necessary to distract the people by deifying the political leader. History is rife with these examples, from the thousands of swastikas and pictures of Hitler in every German home, to the gigantic pictures of Mao Tse-Tung in Beijing, and the depictions, in stone, of Soviet leaders as the heroic “liberators” of the people. We are, unfortunately, seeing this reflected today with the over-the-top nature of the inauguration, where only the President’s backers can exercise their right to demonstrate on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the leader is becoming increasingly disconnected from the people, guarded with security of which Stalin would have been jealous.
Although the worship of governmental leaders makes me disgusted, what truly makes me despair is that appreciation and reverence is inversely rewarded, that is, the less that you actually produce, as a politician really produces nothing, the more you are revered, and the more productive you are, the less appreciation there is. The last acceptable discrimination, as eloquently pointed out by Ayn Rand, is that of the discrimination of the businessman, and this truism has not diminished in value since Rand said it. The ideal Objectivist society would be where we have inaugural-style festivals for the businessman, the man who makes his living trading freely with other rational beings, instead of one where someone who abuses the monopoly of force society has entrusted him.