In a recent interview with Al Sharpton, President Obama commented on Democrat candidates who are distancing themselves from him and his policies. “(T)hese are all folks who vote with me; they have supported my agenda in Congress…these are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me”, he said. In this age of political dissuasion and denial, such candor might seem surprising and is certainly welcomed. In our constitutional system of self governance and popular sovereignty it is crucial that the people understand what candidates running for office actually stand for. Any candidate who seeks to hide from his record or obfuscate her goals and objectives as an officeholder should be exposed as thoroughly as possible so that the people can make an informed decision at the ballot box.
However, what President Obama said next revealed that his candor was a mistake; an unguarded moment when he accidently gave the listening audience a peek behind the curtain. Referencing his communications with fellow democrats who are not acknowledging the truth about their affiliations with Obama or his policy stances, he said, “I tell them — I said, you do what you need to do to win.” With that, he laid bare the tyrannical mindset of the ruling class. Their objective is not the efficient and effective exercise of popular sovereignty. Nor is it to inform and persuade the people to their particular policy stances or governing philosophy. Their objective is simply to win – even at the cost of undermining the popular sovereignty our system of self government was founded upon. Fooling the sovereign people is just part of the process. If the people can’t be convinced of the propriety of a candidate’s actual policy stances, then the people must be mislead so they’ll vote for him anyway.
More and more it is the case that the ruling class views the people as an impediment to the implementation of their schemes rather than the real sovereign authority in whose interests they serve. To them, American politics is not about the process of constitutionally determining the will of the people with respect to their government. It is about playing a high stakes game for the opportunity to impose their will on civil society. The game’s only rule is to win.
There was a time in the not too distant past when a national political figure would have been ruined politically for boldly admitting that it is ok to dupe the electorate in order to win an election. No more. Our cynical body politic has come to expect disrespect from our leaders. Integrity to our founding principals is a scarcely seen characteristic in modern day American political leaders. So it is that President Obama’s acknowledgment draws criticism, but not consequences. His revelation has engendered excited enthusiasm from the Republican opposition at the prospect of using it to their political advantage. But we hear nary a whisper of condemnation for the unspoken message of his comment; that the American citizenry are merely obstacles to be circumnavigated, manipulated or avoided by the ruling class.
Until we the people demand respect from our elected officials for our fundamental constitutional role – that of the sovereign – we’ll only get more of the same. We can effectively demand that respect only by rewarding honesty and candor and by punishing any candidate who lies and deceives us in hopes of fooling us for our vote. We must demand that candidates frankly and honestly articulate their policy stances and that they respectfully work to persuade us to the propriety of their governing philosophy. Those seeking public office must be made to understand that dissuading the voters will only ensure electoral failure. They must be made to know that their only chance of electoral victory is to respect their constituency and convince us with clear and cogent reasoning why we should vote for them and by extension, the policy positions and governing philosophy which they advocate.