Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Tale of Two Scandals...

A Tale of Two Scandals...  That's the title of Peggy Noonan's piece in the Wall Street Journal today, and it's a good read.  She's doing something many others have done: comparing the “lost” emails of the current IRS scandal to the 18 1/2 minute gaps in the Watergate tapes.  What really caught my attention, though, was her close:
She was one of those usually unknown people who populate government, who come from throughout the country drawn to Washington and wanting to help, wanting the sense of consequence and drama and meaning it can impart, who do their jobs well for many decades, who know what they know and then, eventually, go home. Those were good days, when everybody went home.
That's Rosemary Woods she's talking about, but the important point is that last sentence.  That's a good encapsulation of the Founders' notion of a citizen government – where ordinary citizens would temporarily interrupt their life for a few years of government service, and then they would return back to their previous ordinary citizen life.  Implicit in that vision is that notion that there would not be a “permanent government class” – a set of “elites” who ruled over the country as their career.  In the very beginning of the Constitutional U.S., that citizen government actually was what we had.  The erosion started almost immediately, though, and now we've evolved (or devolved, maybe) into almost the opposite – a government where every elected official tries to remain in office as long as possible, where it's possible to get rich in office, and where the actual objectives of those officials is self-enrichment or self-aggrandizement of some other kind.

If George Washington could see what's happening in his namesake city, he'd be very sad indeed.  Angry, too, I suspect.  He might even start thinking about leading another revolution...

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