This is a controversial question, and affirmed by Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Jefferson, Plato, and many, many others. The current state of the American government is doubly damning because people do get the government they deserve. Because not everyone is alike, there are people who want to rule and there are others who prefer to be ruled. And the latter – a majority – want someone else to rule, do the work, so they can focus their energies on other pursuits.
In other words, there are no victims. Permit me this analogy: whenever someone is conned out of his money, it is because he is stupid, or because he wasn’t being prudent. There are actually people who want to be conned. Yes, this analogy implies that people in a tyranny are complicit in the political process, likely unconsciously. The notion that people are passive victims who are injured by an evil cabal that runs Washington is a convenient myth that hides the ugly reality of neoliberalism.
Whenever some lefty denounces America or the Reagan/Bush administrations, he is saying that only the powers that be are actively n consciously oppressing the majority of people, from the top down. Thus, they are innocent victims, either brainwashed by American hegemony or Stepford clones designed for self-oppression.
Bollocks, I say. This overlooks the “sheep,” who are actually apathetic and indifferent to politics, all too satisfied with economic comfort while disregarding how that came about. A con artist doesn’t prey upon innocent lambs because suckers are a dime a dozen. They want to be conned. The con artist and the sucker both are in collusion because they need each other.
It was so easy to blame the evil Karl Rove or dirty republicans for stealing the presidential elections, but that’s only letting the democrat party off the hook for running inept campaigns (Al Gore, John Kerry). These democrats self-destructed due to their own incompetence. People participate in their own defeats.
Far too many people today subscribe to the myth that there is an evil cabal of politicians who pushed a neo-conservative agenda that enforced American interests in a hostile world. This grand narrative is rather comforting, and offers a simple solution: just replace the evil cabal with honest, fiscally-responsible and environmentally-conscious politicians tolerant of all differences among people.
This is all fiction because the American public is completly complicit due to their ideology: the government is responsible for much but not its citizens. This neoliberalism has been in effect since 1980, and contains several earmarks: tax reduction, discipline in fiscal and monetary policy, and light regulation of private sector.
Skepticism of the government’s role and the effectiveness of its policies is fundamental to neoliberalism, which shrunk politics. No policies that could harm the status quo could survive, and that made politicians incapable of demanding anything from the public. See the micropolicies of Clinton where great ideas came at little cost.
When we invaded Iraq, we were told that it would not tax our resources, that it would be a cakewalk. They were wrong on the latter, but not the former. The war on terror is small. Although defense expenditures did increase about 40% under President Bush, it came from a low base. Five years after 9/11, the defense expenditure of gross domestic product (GDP) was only 3.8%, while it was at 6.8% for the past 50 years. Moreover, only 0.6% of the adult population of the United States are employed in active military duty – which has not been that low since 1941. We had more military personnel in Japan 10 years after WWII, more in Germany at the end of 1989, and twice as many were deployed to Korea. And so on.
Bottom line? Americans deserve the government they have!