Earlier this week, in what is perhaps the best indictment of our ruling class since Angelo Codevilla's book of the same title, Thomas Frank wrote a scathing opinion column for The Guardian. Titled, "Forget the FBI cache: the Podesta emails show how America is run," Frank is blunt about our betters' smug sense of superiority, their overweening egos, their self-serving political machinations and their reeking hypocrisy.
Here's a choice passage:
"There are wonderful things to be found in this treasure trove when you search the gilded words 'Davos' or 'Tahoe.' But it is when you search 'Vineyard' on the WikiLeaks dump that you realize these people truly inhabit a different world from the rest of us. By 'vineyard', of course, they mean Martha's Vineyard, the ritzy vacation resort island off the coast of Massachusetts where presidents Clinton and Obama spent most of their summer vacations. The Vineyard is a place for the very, very rich to unwind, yes, but as we learn from these emails, it is also a place of high idealism; a land of enlightened liberal commitment far beyond anything ordinary citizens can ever achieve."
Frank's sarcasm drips off the page. And why shouldn't it? The condescension and hostility displayed by Clinton and her cronies in the tens of thousands of emails that have already been exposed is enough to make any of us "little people" infuriated.
But in truth, this attitude explains a great deal. For one thing, it provides some insight into why this class of people is so utterly indifferent — if not outright scornful — of the Constitution. If one reads the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, or other contemporaneous writings like Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations," there is explicit recognition of the value, and agency, of the individual. And behind the loftier (and more frequently discussed) notions of political liberty is a tacit acknowledgement that adults have the right to run their lives as they see fit.
Indeed, "the pursuit of happiness" was considered important enough to include it among only three enumerated "inalienable rights" in a list that was not intended to be comprehensive, behind only "life" and "liberty."
One would never guess, reading John Podesta & Co.'s correspondence, that government should be just one institution among many in a nation of competent adults. They make us sound like imbeciles and infants, incapable of making even the most ministerial daily decision without the all-encompassing direction of Big Government.
The push for government intervention may have started out with legitimate concerns for a minority of citizens who were less fortunate and incapable of upward mobility. But it has slowly morphed into the pervasive perspective that most people have neither the ability nor, in some cases, the right to run their own lives. We cannot do it as individuals, as families, as communities of faith, as schools, or even as states, without the diktats of leviathan government.
The result has been an explosive expansion of the federal regulatory state. But for all the "good" that this is supposed to bring, it has largely backfired, in ways that progressives decry but refuse to take responsibility for — most notably, the problem of "too much money in government." With increased government comes the pressure to carve out exemptions. Only very wealthy individuals or corporations who have the resources to pay lobbyists or make political donations can accomplish this. The rest of us are forced to fend for ourselves.
The symbiotic relationship between those who declare themselves solely fit to govern and those who pay to get out from under the rules is laid bare in ugly details in the WikiLeaked emails. As is their disdain for those of us stuck with the "governance."
It is inevitable that these classes of people who scratch each other's backs, line each other's pockets and hire each other's children would eventually come to despise the rest of us: the great unwashed masses who they feel don't deserve their honesty but oh-so desperately need their leadership. If you do not judge a man capable of governing himself, then your pity for him eventually becomes contempt.
It is inconceivable to this self-important class (which, regrettably, now includes innovators, artists and journalists) that we might dare to throw off the yoke of their benevolence and wisdom. And when we do, they don't see it coming. Or if they see it, they predict havoc in its wake.
Thus, Brexit never was supposed to happen, and thereafter would produce international chaos when it did. Thus, now, are we told that the American public will have the good sense to elect the corruptocratic Hillary Clinton, who knows what's best for us and will appoint two or three judges to, accordingly, further rein in our rights.
But millions of us still believe in the promises behind the Constitution. We still prize our autonomy. Anything can happen.