Modest and Benevolent Leaders or Maniacs Drunk on Power?

It is not surprising that the political class tried to cancel Thanksgiving and wants to jettison Christmas this year. Americans have been made to live with all kinds of impositions in 2020, putatively for our protection, with no sign they’re going away anytime soon. Instead, the rules have increased relentlessly in number and severity. 

These encroachments have been presented to the public as modest demands made by benevolent leaders. “Just wear a mask,” they say. But the people in charge are not benevolent and their demands are anything but modest. 

When this all began, they demanded a brief “pause” to get hospitals under control. That turned into an indefinite and arbitrary “lockdown.” Now, they say that Americans must get vaccinated before normality is possible, if normality is even on the table. Some speak of a “Great Reset.” The coronavirus is not a hardship to be endured with practicality, but an “opportunity” to revolutionize everything. 

This is not how modest, benevolent leaders speak. But these are not modest or benevolent leaders. These are maniacs drunk on power.

It’s instructive to think of Dr. Anthony Fauci in the mode that most Americans are actually familiar with him: as a television character. On TV, Fauci plays the selfless and modest public servant, whose decisions, importantly, are nevertheless based on an unquestionable authority, the authority of “science.” It’s a part he has apparently played well, because many seem to believe that Fauci and the “expert” class to which he belongs are gods. Their commands must be followed with zeal, no matter how illogical or destructive.

But for those with common sense, the Black Lives Matter uprisings of the summer were a point of no return. People who lost their livelihoods, who were prohibited from grieving loved ones and being with them in their final moments on this earth, were told by our modest, benevolent leaders that all their loss meant nothing. It was suddenly fine to be outside, breathing one on top of the other, so long as one’s face was covered with a flimsy piece of cloth. 

But even that was not the determining factor. One also had to be a political agitator working to advance certain interests. Civil rights were allowed for some, but not for others. “Nonessential” activity: verboten.

These distinctions are not scientific. They are prime facie absurd. But our leaders have not been embarrassed by any of this. Neither have they been embarrassed when they are found not to be living by their own rules. Covered in the vestments of scientific authority, they are perfectly unflappable.

These thugs have caused profound social, economic, spiritual, and psychological suffering, but the course they have set is, they say, beyond reproof. As Fauci put it, science is lamentably getting “lumped into politics,” resulting in “divisiveness.” But Fauci, despite his affectations to the contrary, is necessarily engaged in politics. His decisions have impacted people’s lives and are naturally “divisive.” What he wants is power without responsibility.

California had “no choice” but to lock down again, says Fauci. This grandiose talk is having its effect. In Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti has threatened to cut off utilities to those in violation of his COVID restrictions.

Our political class, while corrupt, is obviously not going to chasten itself. Only the public can do that. But many have accepted our leaders as they want to be seen: as good and wise people who should be free to pursue the common good as they see fit, without the bothersome limitations of public dissent or private rights. 

If you don’t follow “the rules” scrupulously, chances are you have received a disapproving look, a reprimand, from a stranger sometime this year. As law-abiding business owners are crushed and treated like criminals, as churches are shuttered during Christmastime and children are kept out of school, isolated from their friends, a great part of the country has responded with shrugs and applause. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that our leaders are people, not deities, with their own limitations and selfish designs. 

Governments, like the people who comprise them, are prone to corruption. At best they can aspire to aiming imperfectly at the public good. At worst they degenerate into despotism. These truths about politics and human nature used to be obvious. A firm understanding of them was the start of our political science.

When a people degenerates far enough, the particular designs of ambitious despots don’t matter. They can simply let fear, laziness, self-righteousness, and credulity do their work. 

Do Americans still have the spirit and character necessary for free and ordered government, or not? 

These indiginites will never end until the people decide that they must.

About Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a Mt. Vernon fellow of the Center for American Greatness and a staff writer and weekly columnist at the Conservative Institute. His writing has also appeared in the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter @matt_boose. ‏

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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