(This article was originally published on Aug. 9th, 2008. It discusses the dangers of worshiping politicians.)
I heard a conversation take place the other day where one person was explaining to another how he felt about Barack Obama. He told this woman that to him, and to people in his generation, Barack Obama represented the same hope that Jack Kennedy had represented to that generation. This statement sent shivers down my spine. Here was a man in his late fifties not only comparing Barack Obama to John F. Kennedy, (no offense, but Mr. Obama is no John F. Kennedy) but he´s hanging his hopes and dreams on one individual who has an undetermined agenda, may have a questionable past, and has a collectivist voting record. I think this man´s faith is misplaced and the thought that there are millions more out there like him disturbs me.
Let´s start with the John F. Kennedy thing. I was born the year Mr. Kennedy was elected president and was only three when he was assassinated, so I personally remember nothing about his presidency. What I know about him I know from what I´ve read in history and what I´ve read I liked. One of the things I understand about JFK is that he was not a fan of the Federal Reserve or of central banks in general. He was a threat to them. Mr. Obama has not taken such a position. JFK also took a stand against secrecy and secret societies. Mr. Obama has done no such thing. Many have suggested that it was these facets of John F. Kennedy´s policies along with his brother´s stance against organized crime that got him assassinated. It appears to me that Mr. Obama is working with the establishment rather than against it. He may promise change, but all I hear is propaganda and happy speak spewing from his mouth and all I see is more of the same should he be elected. He offers no real change and any change that should come about from his promises will not necessarily be change for the better.
Yet this is nothing new. People have always expected their politicians to save them from some perceived injustice or threat ever since they ceded their own personal responsibility and thrust it upon some appointed leader. Even back in the days of the Roman Empire the leaders were considered gods. In fact, it was mandated that the people worship them as gods. It is frightening to consider that this is the direction our nation is taking. The United States of America was supposed to be a country based on the premise that all men are created equal, not the premise that there is one among us who is more perfect than the rest of us. It was based on the premise that each individual can best determine his own needs, not the premise that one amongst us knows what´s best for all. It was based on the idea that individuals and localities could best determine which policies suited the general area, not the idea that a centralized government or a single leader should force some utopian idea down the throats of all Americans in a one sized fits all construct.
In the days of the Roman Empire it was easy to keep the people worshipping the state. There were threats surrounding them. Armies of "barbarians" gathered on the borders of the empire and threatened the citizens of Rome. The "less civilized" peoples of the world were easy targets for the Roman leaders to demonize and attack. The people of the Roman Empire often looked to their military and their emperor for protection. It´s not so simple in today´s world. Boogie men are harder to come by. Sometimes they may need to be invented or a group may need to be labeled and marginalized to provide the necessary fear factor. In this way modern man will look to his leaders for protection, so that he may be "saved" from some perceived threat. In this way he will give up his liberties for a measure of security. In this way one may very well be conned into giving up his rightful property for an empty promise. As it was in Roman times, so it has become presently.
The emperors of Rome had other ways of controlling the masses besides the fear of attack from the outside and the promise of safety the military provided. They also knew the value of spectacle. They knew the benefit they could derive from public works. They also understood the concept of class warfare and knew very well how to play the people of one class against another. In this way they could keep the populace entertained and prevent them from realizing they were being fleeced. In this way they could keep groups of people focusing their ire on other groups rather than on the elite atop the economic pyramid. Modern politicians work in much the same way. They promise the fruits of other people´s labor to those considered less fortunate while the political class and their friends wallow in unearned wealth. They keep the focus of the people off those who are truly conspiring to manipulate them by delivering to them gifts stolen from the public treasury. With such promises it is no wonder the masses will look upon them with the adoration usually reserved for gods. In this way the masses give up their self reliance and become dependent on those in power to provide for them. As it was in the time of the Roman Empire, so it has become presently.
The mass media is only too happy to provide spectacle for the masses. With the promise that the huge media conglomerates will be able to keep their information monopolies they are just as happy to project a positive image of any politician they anoint as the chosen one. In such a manner they can decide which image to promote and which stories to bury so the common man perceives a diluted and manipulated picture of those who seek power. In this way those who own the media also own the politician. Even the vilest, most depraved human can worm his way into the hearts of millions so long as he says what the people want to hear and the media shows only what it wants the public to see. Like the emperor of old presiding over the gladiatorial games, the masses see only a strong, vibrant personage in the public figure of their future leader. It is a distorted view the masses see. It is a dangerous practice to put the faith of a populace in the hands of such a figure. Perhaps the old adage that some things never change applies here.
The founders of this nation gave us a gift. Though that gift is embodied in the Constitution of this land and the Declaration of Independence that helped birth our nation, those documents are not the gift I speak of. The founders of the United States of America, having been brought up in the age of enlightenment, understood the principles of liberty, personal responsibility and self reliance. They chose these principles as a template for building the nation. They understood the folly of giving too much power to one man, or to one class, and fought to prevent such a situation from happening to their progeny. The Constitution has been ignored and defiled for decades now, but the founders taught us what it means to be free. That is their gift, and hopefully their ultimate legacy.
We should regain our self reliance. We should stop depending on others to do so for us. We should take matters into our own hands. We should reclaim our liberty and our power. We should strip the federal government of its control of our lives and shrink it down to the point where we´re hardly aware it even exists. Decentralization is what´s needed now, not bigger government, more bureaucracy and failed wealth redistribution schemes. We need to stop believing that some messiah is going to come to our rescue and show us the way to some promised land. Each one of us needs to be his own savior. Each one of us needs to be the change he desires.
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