I’m truly happy for the Carrier employees in Indiana who kept their jobs because Vice-President-elect Pence and President-elect Trump intervened to keep Carrier from moving their operation to Mexico.
But all politicians Pence/Trump did was put off the inevitable.
Largely because of ‘Creative Destruction’, a concept economist and political scientist Joseph Schumpeter coined in 1942:
“The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation—if I may use that biological term—that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism.”
‘Creative Destruction’ describes the process in a free economy where constant product and process innovations and new production techniques constantly replace older, outdated, less efficient ones.
‘Creative Destruction’ is a big reason why we enjoy increasingly higher quality products and services at less cost.
Computers, big-screen TV’s, appliances, home electronics, automobiles, medical treatment breakthroughs – the list of inventions and innovations is virtually endless that have become widely available to society because of entrepreneurs and inventors being free to create new, better products and services that people want.
It would not be possible for a society to increasingly flourish with the ever-increasing quality in the products and services it enjoys if it also did not eliminate the older, outdated, less efficient ways of providing products and services.
And this is where Pence/Trump’s Carrier deal comes in.
It’s not for nothing that Carrier considered moving their operation to Mexico. Of course, there will be those who will say it’s because Carrier executives were greedy, etc, but more typically corporations think of taking action such as this because they’re trying to create and keep a competitive edge against others who are competing for customer’s business – in this case, it’s reported Carrier would’ve saved $65 million in labor costs by moving to Mexico.
What Pence/Trump did with this Carrier thing was they focused on the tree and lost sight of the forest. Yes, it makes political/short-term sense in that Pence/Trump could claim they saved American jobs and they got positive media attention and it gave them the chance to spike the football in the end zone.
But the forest is this: to survive, Carrier must successfully compete against other manufacturers of heating and air conditioning units. Pence/Trump’s action has the effect of putting off the inevitable, which is that Carrier must do what it must do to remain competitive, or they will become the part of the ‘Creative Destruction’ process that eliminates those entities that can’t or won’t successfully compete for customers.
Most everyone remembers the ballad of John Henry, a brawny man competing against the steam drill to drive railroad spikes. It’s a romantic song extolling the virtues and dignity of mankind against pitiless technology.
Any time there is some innovation, scientific breakthrough, or technological advance, it affects how work gets done, and hence it affects real human beings. For those making top-shelf buggy whips when the Model ‘T’ came along, it meant they needed to adapt, or perish. For those working in Blockbuster Video stores when Netflix came along, it meant they needed to re-tool themselves and find another job, because, ‘Creative Destruction’.
And this is where Pence/Trump get it wrong with their Carrier deal: they’re trying to keep John Henry on the job driving railroad spikes when there’s a steam drill than can do the job better/cheaper/longer/etc.
Instead of simply putting off the inevitable for immediate political and media gain, it would be wiser for government, businesses, institutions of learning/training, and individuals to recognize the reality of ‘Creative Destruction’ and re-tool themselves to become more adaptable, more able to respond to changes and disruptions, and modify the social safety net to more effectively respond to those in their time of need while avoiding the mistake of the safety net becoming a long-term safety ‘hammock’.
The future flourishing of our society depends on us answering these questions the right way. We citizens must always remember that regardless of whether a politician has a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ after their name, they flourish more by telling us what they think we want to hear, not what is the truth/what we need to hear.
‘Creative Destruction’ is the economic equivalent of gravity and the sun rising in the east. To continue to flourish, we need to fashion our societal institutions and personal values and behavior in recognition of this fact, regardless of what the latest politician wants to try to sell us.
Remember President Obama’s “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Period.” whopper?
That lie is what won Obama Politifact’s ‘Lie Of The Year Award’ in 2013.
Remember when Obama promised healthcare premiums would drop an average of $2,500 a year for a family? Good times!
Obama and his allies told the American people that already expensive doctors, hospitals, and prescriptions would somehow become less expensive by adding a layer of federal government bureaucracy to it.
No, really, Obama and his surrogates all told this to the American people with a straight face.
Now we’ve got the husband of one presidential candidate saying this about ObamaCare:
“So you’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care, and then the people who are out there bustin’ it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half; it’s the craziest thing in the world.”
Meanwhile, the other presidential candidate (who ran as a Republican but has been a New York liberal Democrat most of his life) is on record of advocating for universal government-paid healthcare (now he’s talking about repealing and replacing ObamaCare, but doesn’t say with what).
Do yourself a favor and read/listen to Speaker Paul Ryan’s ‘Better Way’ play for health care reform at http://abetterway.speaker.gov/
Here’s Speaker Ryan talking about the ‘Better Way’ for health care:
Unless you’re happy with skyrocketing premiums, higher deductibles, and less choice in your doctor, hospital, or pharmacy, that is.
Up to you.
*Violent totalitarian Islamism*, as represented by Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian Mullahs and others, is a threat to all peace-loving peoples of the world.
While people of other religions and/or political ideologies can and do commit violent acts, there is an unmistakable frequency, tempo, and pattern of Islamist-inspired violence in the world today that only the ideologically blinkered and willfully blind refuse to see.
Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, a Muslim who served as the General Manager of Arab news channel Al-Arabiya said,
“It is a fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.”
For many liberals/intellectuals like President Obama, Hillary Clinton and the like, *violent totalitarian Islamism* is the problem they refuse to name. Instead, they employ euphemisms such as ‘radical extremism’ or simply ‘terror’ which confuses the means *violent totalitarian Islamists* use with the ideology/religious doctrines they hold that motivates and inspires them to commit acts of violence in the first place.
Every society has their share of bigots and xenophobes, but those who deny and/or refuse to recognize that *violent totalitarian Islamist* groups are inspired and guided by distinctly Islamic history, jurisprudence, tradition, and texts they consider sacred, go so far in their desire to avoid ‘backlash’ against peaceful Muslims living in the west that they deny what Ray Charles could see.
We must call the enemy by its name, *violent totalitarian Islamism*, while standing true to our principles of freedom, equality, tolerance, and open inquiry, etc., while welcoming and joining freedom-loving Muslims of good will to the fight to destroy the common enemy, *violent totalitarian Islamism*.
This is where conservatives and liberals who believe in and stand up for the Classical Liberalism championed by the principles set forth in the Constitution of the U.S. need to stand up and speak out against the crude demagoguery of the Donald Trumps of the world.
The war against *violent totalitarian Islamism* will not be won relatively quickly like World War II was. Rather, it will be a generational war spanning years or even decades, requiring political leadership and determination that heretofore hasn’t been seen from the political class in our time. It will require political parties and people across the political spectrum to work together to defeat the common enemy.
In 2012 President Obama campaigned for reelection by claiming he ‘ended the war’ in Iraq. Obama pulled out most all U.S. troops from Iraq, against the advise of his military/intelligence/diplomatic staff, which created the vacuum that Islamic State filled.
Obama apparently never learned, forgot, or doesn’t care about a fundamental concept of war: the enemy gets a vote.
One may not like war (who does?), but putting one’s head in the sand or swimming in that river in Egypt in the face of a determined enemy would be the height of foolishness.
To paraphrase an apocryphal saying attributed to Leon Trotsky: You may not be interested in *violent totalitarian Islamism*, but *violent totalitarian Islamism* is interested in you.
Hillary Clinton has said that women who claim they’ve been raped should be believed.
Of course, all actual accusations of rape are to be taken seriously by the proper authorities: those in law enforcement trained, experienced, and equipped to conduct a fair, impartial, “just-the-facts-ma’am”, legally sound inquiry – certainly not college boards of inquiry or the like populated by tendentious ax-grinders who lack the proper training, experience, and legal authority to organize and carry out such an investigation.
When it comes to accusations of rape, the problem comes with those who have an agenda or narrative to peddle, re: ‘privileged, out of control white males’ or the like, who in their blinkered ideological zeal work to advance narratives of rape, heedless of, you know, actual facts, such as what was seen with the Duke Lacrosse team in 2006, or more recently in the November 2014 edition of Rolling Stone magazine, in a piece that accused several men at the University of Virginia of viciously raping a woman at a drunken frat house party.
Both cases received wall-to-wall sensationalized media coverage and became celebrated cases for certain varieties of feminists and like-minded fellow travelers keen on advancing their preferred agenda and narrative.
The only problem was that the accusations were false, and those who were prosecuting the accused, either in an actual court of law, as in the case of the Duke lacrosse team being prosecuted by prosecutor Michael B. Nifong (who later resigned in disgrace for his appalling and illegal conduct) or in the court of public opinion, as in the Rolling Stone piece (which led to Rolling Stone pulling the piece in disgrace and disrepute).
There’s the setup.
Today in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton was hoisted on her own petard when a questioner reminded her she said all rape victims should be believed, then proceeded to ask Hillary if that includes Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones, three woman who have accused Hillary’s husband and former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment.
Hillary stayed in campaign mode, maintaining a weirdly forced-looking Cheshire Cat grin, but there’s no doubt the blow landed and did damage.
Those emigrating to America for freedom, opportunity and a chance at a better life should, as Teddy Roosevelt said, come to America with the idea of grafting themselves into the American tree and fully becoming Americans:
In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.
It is not ‘tolerance’ or a celebration of ‘diversity’ to allow groups of immigrants to remain festering in unassimilated enclaves, cut off from the larger society, clinging to their native tongues and the traditions, ways, ethics, and jurisprudence of the country they emigrated from.
Rather, it is a recipe for and tacit approval of the balkinization of society, which leads to conflicts, violence, and further divisions between people.
Senator Marco Rubio does a fine job of setting a news man, and the record, straight in regard to Hillary Clinton lying to the American people about a video being the cause of an attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya on the anniversary of 9/11 in 2012.
The video can be found here.
I shouldn’t be amazed, but I am.
CBS’s Charlie Rose is an experienced news man, but it’s hard to tell if he’s truly confused or if he’s parroting talking points from the Hillary campaign in regard to Hillary’s conflicting accounts of the attack on an American compound by radical Islamists. My guess is it’s more of the latter.
In contrast, Marco Rubio couldn’t be more clear: Hillary Clinton lied about the attack on Benghazi compound that left four Americans dead (including Ambassador Chris Stephens, the first ambassador killed in the line of duty in 30+ years) being caused by a video.
She confidentially told people by email one account (that she was sure the attack was premeditated and NOT caused by a video) and told the American people another story, including the families of those slain (that the attack WAS caused by a video).
Particularly revolting is that she told the lie about the video being the cause of the attack over the caskets of the slain men (with President Feckless there as well).
Her own emails that were made public when she testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi showed she knew the night of the attack that it was a planned terrorist attack, not a spontaneous riot/protest caused by a video.
It is scandalous and outrageous that the media is not doing more to hold Hillary Clinton accountable for blatantly lying to the American people. The media is supposed to speak truth to power, but now they are the power.
It would be nice to get a Republican back in the White House if for no other reason than to have the Main Stream Media go back to their role of watch dog (although many will almost certainly go past being a watch dog and become attack dogs).
Right now, many of them are acting more like obedient, slobbering lap dogs.
To be born in the early 1960’s puts one somewhere near the tail end of the Baby Boomer generation and makes one a beneficiary of the fruits of the labor of the ‘Greatest Generation’, a phrase popularized by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the parents of the ‘Boomers’ – those who lived through the Great Depression and defeated the totalitarian forces of German Nazism, Italian Fascism, and Japanese Imperialism in World War II.
At the conclusion of the war, years of suffering, sacrifice, and deprivation gave way to a burst of prosperity and confidence. America enjoyed a position of unparalleled cultural, economic, and military dominance in the world, and Americans now had time to pursue the ‘American Dream’, including home ownership, a large family, and having disposable income to buy automobiles, color television sets, and the latest appliances.
To be sure, it wasn’t all prosperity and sunny optimism after World War II. The post-World War II world had become divided between the ideologies of Communism and Democracy. The Soviet Union detonated its first atomic weapon in 1949, with the Chinese following suit by exploding their first nuclear device in 1964. America found itself in military conflict by proxy or directly with the communists of the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea in the Korean War and soon afterwards fighting communists in the Vietnam War.
But even while American elementary school children were practicing ‘Duck and Cover’ in case of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union, by and large most Americans fully occupied themselves with the business of Pursuing Happiness, as epitomized by the opening of the Happiest Place on Earth in 1955.
America and the other nations making up the ‘Western World’ were confident in the morality of their world view and way of life, and they were for the most part united in their view that communism was an evil (yes, they used the word, ‘evil’) that needed to be fought and beaten.
Then the late 1960’s/early 1970’s came, and with that time period, a tidal wave of cultural change, the impact of which is felt to this day.
By no means were all of the cultural changes in the 1960’s/1970’s negative. The civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King was enormously positive, populated by people of faith and good will who worked to steer America in the direction of making good on the promissory note that “…all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
One cannot say the same for the sexual revolution and the fruits thereof, including the disintegration of so many marriages and families, the wreckage of whole communities, and the abortion of some 56 million humans.
Of note was the change of what I’ll call ‘Yay America’ and sunny optimism seen in popular culture to one where dark, foreboding, apocalyptic themes became all the rage.
Popular television shows like ‘I Love Lucy’, ‘The Adventures of Ozzy and Harriet’, and ‘Father Knows Best’, shows that took a lighthearted and sympathetic look at America went the way of the Dodo, and were over time replaced with movies like Planet Of The Apes, The Omega Man, The Andromeda Strain, and Soylent Green, which all dealt in dark, apocalyptic, doomsday visions of humanity’s future.
Around the same time, I was playing dodgeball.
Little did I know that at the tender age of nine or so my classmates and I would be exposed to another dimension of doomsday-ism and indoctrination from our 4th grade teacher, a young woman in her 20’s, who, in a most earnest and sincere manner, told us about a book that predicted mass starvation caused by overpopulation of the planet. When she wasn’t telling us impressionable children about this book, she would fill her spare time in class teaching us about, you know, reading, writing, and arithmetic. I’m sure she meant well.
On and on Hollywood and popular culture went, churning out one show, movie, article, and book after another about some variety of nuclear, medical, zombie, acne, toe fungus – or whatever – end-of-days depiction of the demise of humanity and the world as we know it.
Apocalyptic catastrophe, like sex, sells, big time.
With the demise of Soviet communism in Russia and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the object of apocalyptic, we’re-all-gonna-die-so-kiss-yer-a*s-goodbye gloom, doom, death, and destruction moved away from nuclear annihilation and gravitated towards environmental calamity as the instrument du jour of the demise of humanity.
Thus was Global Warming, now called Climate Change, brought into the world, and has attained the status of something like religious doctrine among the cultural elite, who reside for the most part in the rarefied aether of government, higher education, entertainment, and media. Their best known (and perhaps best compensated) apostle is former vice president Al Gore, who in 2006 introduced his movie, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ to a world thirsting for an innovative twist on the tried-and-true (and lucrative) formula of disease, devastation, and death.
Gore’s movie and his apocalyptic message sold like hotcakes at a fireman’s fundraising breakfast the weekend after payday.
Cue to the present day, October 30th, 2015 and the question of leadership. Barack Obama has been president for nearly 7 years, and in the face of the bloody horrors of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, in the face of Vladimir Putin working to reestablish Russia as a world power to be reckoned with, in the face of Iran working to gain nuclear weapons and become the regional hegemon in the Middle East, in the face of a refugee crisis of biblical proportions, Obama has stated he defines leadership by helping to organize the world to respond to the threats he believes are posed by Climate Change.
It is clear President Obama, Al Gore, and their fellow travelers are fully invested in Climate Change. For Gore, it’s his literal meal ticket. Obama appears unable or unwilling to discern between acute, actual, immediate, clear and present threats (a belligerent Russia, a saber-rattling China, an Iranian mullah death cult bent on gaining nuclear weapons, resurgent radical Islamists in Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere, etc.) for the at best chronic, long-term (to the degree it is a threat at all) ‘threat’ of Climate Change.
How very much easier it is for people like Obama to summon the world’s elites to an international conference on Climate Change to give fellow True Believers the opportunity to gather in luxurious accommodations to clink their goblets filled with French wine and nibble on Russian caviar than it is to commit to spending blood and treasure to eradicate actual threats to national security and global stability.
This is what Obama calls ‘leadership’.
In the end, the elites of the world are attracted to apocalyptic Climate Change because it affords them the opportunity to exercise more authority, more power, and more control over others and get rich doing it.
This is why Climate Change is such a yawner for the rest of us. People are on to the elite’s game, but the elites haven’t gotten the memo.
Syndicated talk show host and author Dennis Prager recently observed that people on the right and people on the left assess public policies from fundamentally different perspectives.
Namely, people on the right tend to ask, ‘Does it do good’, while people on the left are more apt to ask, ‘Does it make me and others feel good’.
Case in point: ObamaCare. The reader is encouraged to read this piece from Avik Roy detailing the latest on ObamaCare — basically, ObamaCare is collapsing on itself, as Roy and others predicted it would when it was, ahem, ‘passed’ in Congress in 2010.
Jammed through Congress like a piece of rotten pork through a meat grinder more filthy than any imagined in an Upton Sinclair novel, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, at times literally in the dead of night through legislative sleight of hand, procedural trickery, back-room agreements, and raw power politics, shoved ObamaCare down the American people’s throats on a party-line vote (zero Republicans voted for it).
And were my liberal friends happy — jubilant, even. ObamaCare made them feel good.
Who can forget President Obama repeatedly promising the American people that a family could look forward to seeing their health care premiums dropping by as much as $2,500.00 a year?
For that whopper, along with promising people that if they liked their doctor/health plan they can keep it, “period”, Obama was awarded Politifact’s ‘Lie of the Year’.
Now here we are in October 2015, with skyrocketing premiums and deductibles, along with constricted choices of doctors, hospitals, and medications — *all* a direct result of ObamaCare.
Think about it: Obama and his allies/followers confidently assured the American people that ObamaCare would succeed in “bending down the cost curve” on already expensive doctors, hospitals, and medication while — get this — adding the cost of a bloated, centralized, government bureaucracy to the existing cost of doctors, hospitals, and medication!
Ray Charles could have seen how absurd and ridiculous this is, but not our president in search of his presidential ‘legacy’, and not his followers who just wanted to feel good.
It’s time to stop forming and enacting policies based on what makes some feel good and go with what actually works. Good intentions and wanting to feel good are not enough when it comes to allocating scarce resources to the best good and needs of the greatest number of people.
This country needs to go to a patient-centered health care delivery system that removes the unwelcome input of some far away, ignorant, box-checking bureaucrat who is more concerned about cutting costs (a form of reallocating smaller pieces from a shrinking pie) than what the caregiver believes will lead to the best healthcare outcomes of his/her patients at the least cost.
We need to go to a patient-centered health care delivery system that provides greater choices for patients that’s made possible through the freedom, innovation, and competition that results in increased choices and higher quality while keeping costs competitive.
Republicans have a golden opportunity to propose serious programs to do just this in the presidential election season. Whether they’re able to come together as a party and do so is another question. Even more questionable is if individual Democrats will be able to loosen their white-knuckle death grip on ObamaCare and work with Republicans to fashion patient-centered health care. There may be more hope for this after Obama leaves office.
This we know: ObamaCare is a disaster that is collapsing under its own weight. It is an unsustainable scheme involving a bloated, centralized, inefficient government bureaucracy in league with fewer and larger health insurance corporations. If you are a government bureaucrat, you are reveling in how much control you have over your fellow man. If you are the CEO of United Health Care or Kaiser Foundation, you are lighting Cohiba Behike’s with $100 dollar bills.
But if you are a doctor or a patient, you’re getting the shaft from ObamaCare.
Put simply, ObamaCare is utterly failing the American people.
I don’t doubt my liberal friend’s good intentions regarding ObamaCare. It made them feel good. They apparently don’t know much about basic economics, but Obama assured them in the most glowing terms that ObamaCare would be the greatest thing since hospital food, and they swallowed it — hook, line, and sinker.
Would it be too much to ask my liberal friends to, instead of asking themselves, ‘will it feel good?’ to ask, at least occasionally, ‘will it do good?’.
Remember when candidate Barack Obama repeatedly promised health care premiums would drop by up to $2,500 a year?
Since Obama made that promise, health care premiums are reported to have increased $4,865 a year:
I hesitate to use the ‘L’ word, but there’s no other word to use in this case: Barack Obama lied to the American people. Knowingly. Repeatedly.
This is what happens when you combine Big Pharma, Big Health Care, and Big Government: you get a bloated, inefficient Frankenstein monster where the people get fewer choices and increased costs.
It’s called Crony Capitalism. It’s where government steps in and puts its thumb on the scale to pick winners and losers, instead of letting people freely and openly compete in a truly free market for the best products and services at the most competitive cost.
Think about this: Team Obama and his fellow travelers sold enough of the American people on ObamaCare on what is really an absurd idea – that already expensive medication, doctors, and hospitals would somehow, magically, be made less expensive by adding an additional layer of bloated, inefficient government bureaucracy to administer the program.
The idea is nuttier than an outhouse at a Georgia peanut festival.
Let’s start off with some quotes:
“Dear Sir: I am.” – Attributed to G.K. Chesterton, responding to a newspaper’s question, ‘What’s wrong with the world today?‘
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves.” – Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” – John Adams
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H.L. Mencken
“…Great men are almost always bad men…” – Lord Acton
Donald Trump has, similar to Barack Obama when he was a presidential candidate in 2007, swept a considerable number of people off their feet with his novelty, celebrity, rhetoric, and status of not being part of the political establishment.
Obama the newcomer wrecked the coronation of Hillary Clinton in 2008, and Trump the celebrity is sucking most of the media coverage oxygen out of the room at the expense of most of his Republican rivals (other than Trump, Ben Carson is the only other candidate to have poll numbers in the double digits; all the other Republican presidential candidates currently have poll numbers in the single digits):
While Obama and Trump are quite different from one/another, they have one thing in common: they’re both ‘Great Men.’
Obama had his soaring rhetoric and will have his place in history of being the first black (or African-American, if you prefer) to be elected president. Like him or not, Obama certainly has taken consequential steps on his pronouncement to “…fundamentally transform the United States of America” during his time in office (examples: ObamaCare and Obama’s nuke ‘deal’ with the fanatical death-cult Iranian mullahs). Trump is a flamboyant, WWE®-style trash-talking billionaire entertainer real estate mogul who says what he thinks and says it in a way many in his WWE® blue-collar constituency and others find entertaining, endearing, and attractive.
But ‘Great Men’ are something the Founding Fathers warned us about and they set about designing a form of government that would harness, curtail, diminish, and soften the impact of ‘Great Men’.
People being attracted to and chasing after ‘Great Men’ is nothing new; in fact it’s as old as the heart of humanity itself.
The book of 1 Samuel in the Bible recounts the story of when the Hebrews, dissatisfied with theocracy, their form of government at the time, demanded God’s earthly representative, the prophet Samuel, to appoint a king over them:
When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” (emphasis added)
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” (emphasis added) 1 Samuel 8: 1-9
There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. (emphasis added) 1 Samuel 9: 1-2
The Hebrews were dissatisfied with Samuel and his corrupt sons, so they looked around at their neighbor nations and told themselves, “Why can’t we be more like them?” (perhaps one of the earlier recorded accounts of wanting to keep up with the Jones’?).
And God tells Samuel not to get too hot around the collar about his countrymen’s demand for a king, informing him they’re not giving him the heave-ho, but rather they’re pushing God out of their lives.
So God tells Samuel to solemnly warn the Hebrews of what they’re in for with their demand for an earthly king. God tells them if they go down the road of this earthly king thing, they’re going to get all they demand and they’re going to get it good and hard:
Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.
Later we read that the earthly kingship over the Hebrews goes to tall, dark, and handsome Saul, a ‘Great Man’, “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” You can almost hear the people exclaim, “look how rich/tall/well spoken/etc. our new king is…”.
Just as Obama rode a wave of popularity, being called “The One” by Oprah Winfrey and others on the left side of the political spectrum, now Trump has done something similar with those on the right.
Trump has capitalized on the fact that many in the Republican ‘establishment’ appear to be tone-deaf and unresponsive to the base’s wants, needs, and desires (unless it’s election time, then Republican politicians calibrate their rhetoric to court the base to get reelected). In this sense, Trump’s poll numbers are a symptom of establishment Republican’s refusal to engage with its base. It’s been said that Trump’s poll numbers are a rigid and stiff middle finger to the Republican establishment.
But, similar to the Hebrews being dissatisfied with Samuel and his sons and demanding an earthly king for what ailed them, many in the Republican base appear to want to throw out the baby with the bath water in supporting an avaricious, bombastic, egotistical, crude, populist ‘Great Man’ at the expense of conservative principles, philosophy, and approach to government.
The country has had six and a half years of a ‘Great Man’ in the Oval Office. As bad as the Republican establishment has been, the answer is not electing another ‘Great Man’ who is very clever at manipulating his message in order to get votes.
The fundamental bet the Framers made was that the people who consented to being governed would be sober minded, educated, engaged, and vigilant against hucksters, snake-oil salesmen and ‘Great Men’ of all stripes. That the people elected Obama once was bad enough; that they reelected him is not encouraging.
If the people elect a ‘Great Man’ like Donald Trump as president of the United States of America (or for that matter a ‘Great Woman’ like Hillary Clinton), all I can say is get ready, because you’re going to get what you demanded, and you’re going to get it, good and hard.
UPDATE, TUESDAY 9-15-15:
This piece, from the estimable Thomas Sowell, is a must read. Sowell makes the point that the real danger is not the glib egomaniacal politician, it’s the people who would elect such a person.