Getting the Government We Deserve

From:,  by Jon N. Hall,  on Oct 6, 2016


From time to time one hears various formulations of this sometimes misattributed quote by Joseph de Maistre: “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” If that’s so, it is especially true in the case of democracies, because in a democracy the nation, i.e. the People, chooses the government.

In today’s world, the electronic media allows all of America to watch in “real time” as O.J. Simpson and other idiots try to outrun the police. If something happens halfway around the globe, we know it immediately. Although one must actively look for opinion and analysis, with the Internet it’s at our fingertips. So in today’s America, we have no excuses; we really do deserve the government we get.

One fact many Americans need to get a better grasp of is: America is a republic. America is a representative democracy, not a direct democracy. Citizens don’t vote on every decision before government. Indeed, citizens not part of the government make way less than 1 percent of decisions affecting government. I just made up that statistic, but it’s gotta be correct. The few governmental decisions that the average citizen does make, however, are momentous. And those decisions are all about who are going to be making all the other decisions.

Imagine if the CEO of Boeing, GM, IBM, or Apple were chosen by the People in an election. It would be insane; the average voter doesn’t know enough to choose the leaders of such complicated organizations. Yet, we have a system where the People get to choose the CEO of the biggest, most complex operation in the known universe: the U.S. federal government.

Our system for electing the president wouldn’t be so nuts if it had a way to find the best and brightest, a way of winnowing down our choices before they’re presented to the People. But we don’t have that. Instead, we have a system in which anyone can self-select themselves. If Oprah self-selected herself to run for president, she might just get elected to be the so-called “Leader of the Free World.” (Over the last few years that title really belongs to Benjamin Netanyahu.)

If “self-selectors” don’t want to go through the arduous business of collecting signatures to get on the ballots in the various states to run as an independent, then they can avail themselves of the “infrastructure” of a party and run in party primaries. That’s what Bernie Sanders did. But now that the DNC’s computer has been hacked, we know that the fix was always in for Clinton and that Sanders never had a chance. Since an “outsider” prevailed in the Republican primaries, isn’t the GOP more “democratic” than the so-called Democratic Party?

If the system we have for selecting presidential nominees for the general election is corrupt, what should we replace it with? Consider the way that Catholics get a new pope. The College of Cardinals meets in a “papal conclave” and scours the globe looking for the best man. The College doesn’t ask rank-and-file Catholics what they think or want; they don’t get a vote. Yet, the laity accepts the decision of the College. Serious Catholics aren’t miffed that they had no say in the selection of a new pope; they accept it. If they don’t like what the Holy See is up to, they can always leave the church and become Episcopalians, (like God intended).

The Catholic Church’s method for finding new popes is rather like the method the parties had for getting presidential nominees fifty years ago. On Sept. 30, the Kansas City Star ran “Present-day political conventions fail our nation,” a short op-ed by Michael Pandzik, a cable TV exec, that’s worth reading. Mr. Pandzik suggests eliminating the role of “superdelegates,” which is right on the money. But he also suggests that the parties “temper the power of the primaries,” which doesn’t go far enough. We need to eliminate the primaries, too. We need to let the “high priests” of the parties, i.e. the convention delegates, select our presidential nominees. And no delegate should be an elected official. (Incidentally, just so you don’t get the wrong idea: I’m not a member of the Roman Catholic Church. But I do admire their method for finding new leadership.)

Politicians continually talk about what we, the People, deserve. They tell us that we deserve a minimum wage, and that we deserve a secure pension, and that we deserve a world-class education. And don’t forget the free healthcare that we each so richly deserve. And anything that the other guy has, even if he’s paid for it with his own money, we deserve that, too. But as the Old West badass William Munny once put it: “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

“Deserve” is a “weasel word.” It’s employed by weasel politicians to stoke resentment. They invoke the term “the deserving poor.” But folks don’t deserve things unless they’ve worked for it. Otherwise we’re talking charity.

Most voters seem to be unhappy with the choices they have for president this season; I share their unhappiness. Nonetheless, most of the voters are getting the nominees they deserve. The only voters who aren’t getting the nominees they deserve are those who actually voted in the primaries, but for losers. That includes me; I don’t deserve this.

It’s now time for this cowboy to lay his cards on the table: I’ll be voting a straight Republican ticket next month, which means I’ll be voting for Mr. Trump. If, as president, Trump performs unsatisfactorily, a Republican Congress could impeach and remove him from office. But with Hillary, she’ll finish her term, as the Democrats would never remove one of their one.

Anyone considering voting for anything other than a straight Republican ticket needs to read “Hillary Is an Embodiment of the Left’s Disdain for Democracy” by Yuval Levin and Ramesh Ponnuru; it ran Sept. 26 at National Review. Levin and Ponnuru delve into three main areas where America is losing her moorings: executive unilateralism, the administrative state, and judicial activism. Their excellent article is a must-read condensed history of the last eight years. The blurb is: “She offers more of the same — and that’s the scariest thing of all.”

A vote for Hillary is a vote for the system. Everything that touches the Clintons gets sullied, dragged down into the mud, even the F.B.I. Voting for Hillary is voting for a two-tiered justice system, for a ruling class, for the further institutionalization of corruption. Is that the America your kids deserve?

Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.


Mr. Hall makes a very astute observation – one I’ve often made myself – about the sorry candidates that we, the people, have been programmed to accept. It’s our (collective) fault that more of us aren’t engaged enough to participate in the candidate selection process to assure that we have honest-to-goodness qualified candidates. Here’s his statement to which I say “Bravo”!

“Imagine if the CEO of Boeing, GM, IBM, or Apple were chosen by the People in an election. It would be insane; the average voter doesn’t know enough to choose the leaders of such complicated organizations. Yet, we have a system where the People get to choose the CEO of the biggest, most complex operation in the known universe: the U.S. federal government.”

Isn’t the president’s job AT LEAST as important as the CEO of a major corporation? Our POTUS exerts control over some 330,000,000 citizens. Shouldn’t we be more demanding than a Board of Directors when selecting a leader for the entire country?

And yet, look at our two options. They are pitiful.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I think that I deserve better.



Categories: Political


5 replies

  1. I disagree that we get the government we deserve. There’s no way I (or anyone else for that matter) did anything bad enough to deserve O as my president for eight years, nor the people he’s placed in key positions. The same goes for Hillary and for Trump.

    Yes, our selection system needs improving because the methods we use aren’t even close to the procedures spelled out by our Founders. Instead it’s mutated into a combination of a popularity contest and a scheme used by mega donors to buy favors. Qualifications no longer matter and have been replaced by those empty promises made during the campaign. For most of the uninformed voters, that’s all they need to hear, as proven by our choices this year – the world’s biggest blowhard or an unconvicted felon.


    • No, most of us didn’t deserve Obama (or our two current candidates either), but you know what was meant by the statement. The collective “we” includes all of the uninformed and those who don’t even bother to vote with the result being that we informed and engaged are swept up into the collective “we” and suffer the consequences.

      You’re right, our presidential election has become a popularity contest, with an obvious disregard for qualified leadership. While this election stands to be one of the most ludicrous in recent memory, it still doesn’t hold a candle to 2008 and 2012 when pure, unadulterated racism stole the election for the (half) black man.


  2. Yes, I think conservatives deserve better, and the tragedy is that we could have had better but it was slapped out of our hands, as so often happens.

    The stockholders of Boeing or Apple may not agree 100 percent on which individuals are the best to run those companies, but they at least ostensibly share the common goal of seeing their companies succeed, and this greatly improves the likelihood that they will choose appropriate leadership. Thanks to liberals and their success in nurturing the nanny state, Americans no longer share that all-important common purpose. The natural (and intentional) consequence of liberalism is that it turns “we” into “us versus them,” and with the country closely divided into these separate camps, a candidate’s ability to defeat the other electorally takes priority over any other quality one might normally desire in a POTUS.

    Every association is at risk from infiltration by destructive members, however, and even with profit-motivated stockholders, Boeing and Apple must take care to protect themselves against well-meaning but misguided stockholders who don’t understand what it takes to succeed in business or who have other incompatible objectives. To that end smart entrepreneurs often reserve a controlling block of stocks to themselves and their like-minded associates. Likewise political party organizations, if they were smart, would incorporate rules that prevent being overtaken by those who are not there to further its stated interests. For Exhibit A I give you Donald Trump who, as if to make my point, complained about the lack of “democracy” in state primaries. Democracy only works when the platform/mission/constitution is written in stone. Otherwise we are all working to build organizations that will be co-opted by others once those organizations are sufficiently powerful to attract the interest of the usurpers.


    • The shame is that we came so close to getting a conservative candidate this time. I wonder how long it’ll be before we have an opportunity again. I don’t know how Cruz would have done against Hillary, but you have to think that if Trump was half as lucid and knowledgeable as Cruz, he would have already buried Hillary. Trump is his own worst enemy and he’s still neck and neck with the “smartest woman in the world.”


      • Yep. Granted we’ll never know, but we would not be talking about:

        -How fat Ms. Universe got
        -Pigs, slobs and dogs
        -$900+ million dollars in taxable losses
        -The absence of tax returns
        -Bankruptcies and employee lawsuits
        -Obama’s birth certificate (maybe)
        -Whether or not John McCain qualifies as a war hero

        I’ll just leave it at that.


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