America Has Lost Sight of Chesterton’s Fence
This country will never fix its problems until we fix this
I promise you that we’re not going to make a real foray into electoral politics here, but we need to talk about a guy by the name of John Fetterman in a neck-in-neck battle with Dr. Mehmet Oz for a Senate seat in Pennsylvania.
Fetterman dresses like a big, sloppy kid, sponged off of his parents until he was 49, and had a stroke that has greatly impacted his ability to talk and think. This is a man who would have a great deal of difficulty holding down any kind of normal job and if elected, he would be the single least impressive person ever to make it into the Senate.
Fetterman is barely a step up from Caligula’s Horse… yet it’s entirely possible that he’ll be the next senator from Pennsylvania. Now, it would be very easy to mock the Democrats in that state for being willing to support someone who’s obviously unqualified for the office, but the reality is that if the parties of both men running for office were reversed and the GOP was saddled with Fetterman, the vast majority of Republicans would dutifully march to the ballot box and vote for him.
That’s because we no longer view members of Congress as leaders or want them to work together to figure out how to make America more successful. We’ve long since abandoned the idea that our government can fix the serious problems confronting America today. Instead, the version of American government far too many of us have subconsciously accepted is something closer to a hopelessly broken-down car rolling downhill towards a cliff with no one at the wheel or brakes. We don’t expect miracles. We don’t expect anything to get fixed. We don’t even expect basic competence. We’re just trying to make the ride to the cliff as painless as possible for us and to best position ourselves to pick up the pieces after the inevitable crash that’s going to happen one day. Granted, there are some of us trying to convince the rest of the country to demand that the politicians get to the brakes and steering wheel, but they never seem to listen.
That’s why someone like John Fetterman can be a serious candidate for the Senate in America. It’s because so many of us don’t expect our politicians to be logical, puzzle through problems, or try to figure out the best way to help America anymore. We don’t expect “the best and the brightest." Any drooling moron will do. That’s because, for most people, it all comes down to nine words.
Give us what we want, when we want it.
Unfortunately, what you’ve just read is not a description of a nation with a healthy political system and a bright future.
On the contrary, America is more like a wooden boat.
Imagine being in that wooden boat in the middle of the ocean and someone decides that they want to smash an enormous hole in the bottom of the ship with an axe. They go on to note that it would certainly be good exercise and let’s face it, smashing things can be a lot of fun. Besides, boats are repairable and the trees that would be needed to repair it are plentiful in the world. That means it’s not as if the wood couldn’t be patched and replaced. At that point, that person grabs an ax, and half the people on the boat start preparing to head down the stairs to the hull.
Before they get through the door, you and several other people plead with them not to do it. However, when you start to explain the problem, they wave you off. They have absolutely no interest in your reasoning, explanations, or what you’re trying to tell them. Instead, they say, you are probably afraid of change or are used to having privilege on the boat. They ask if you have ever split firewood. If so, then who are you to say that this is a bad idea? That’s wood and this is wood. They have an axe, and you used an axe to split the firewood. Maybe you are just afraid that a minority might get to smash in the bottom of the boat. What, you don’t like the idea of brown people smashing brown wood?
You may think that is ridiculous, makes no sense, or sounds weird, but that is exactly the level of discourse that we’ve reached in America on just about every political issue that matters. Deficit spending, abortion, immigration, defense, healthcare, education, etc., etc., on and on. There is no meaningful debate, thoughtful discussion, attempts to persuade people, or even a basic understanding of what the policy that’s in place is designed to do or what the policy in place will really do instead. It’s “we have the votes, so we’re going to do what we want because our activists tell us to and if you don’t like it, go **** yourself.” Then, if it blows up, there’s no apology. There’s no one admitting they’re wrong. There’s no one who screwed up saying, “Well, maybe the old policy was the best way to go.” Again, it’s just a bunch of politicians essentially telling everyone who disagrees with them to “Go **** yourself.”
You want to see what that looks like in practice? Look at the no-bail laws and DAs refusing to charge criminals in liberal cities. Look at Joe Biden’s response to the disaster he engineered in Afghanistan or his catastrophically bad energy policies. Has Barrack Obama ever apologized for Obamacare? Have Democrats ever moved to repeal it because so many of the promises made about the law turned out not to be true? Not at all. In every one of these cases, they pushed a bunch of bad ideas because they sounded good at the time, without spending any time thinking through the ramifications.
They were like a kid in a toy store with mom’s credit card. “I want that! I want that! I want that! I want that!” There was no thought about the cost, whether they had room for it, or whether they’d even want to play with it next year. There was no thought anything greater than, “I want…” except people in politics want all sorts of ludicrous things for deluded or selfish reasons. There are people who want you to pay off their college loans, that think illegals should be able to enter America at will and become citizens if they choose, that think we should get rid of prisons and police entirely, that healthcare, college, and housing should be a right, that white children should be taught that they’re evil because of their skin color, that air travel inside the United States should be illegal, and that it should be illegal to rent out housing.
There is absolutely no end to the number of bad ideas people want to bring to reality, but in a society full of people with different needs and interests, there has to be more to it than, “I want it,” or “You’re bad if you don’t give me what I want.” This nation does not have unlimited goodwill, resources, and money. Just like a spoiled, know-nothing rich kid can run daddy’s company into the ground, we can AND ARE doing the same thing to America. We constantly have people who don’t even have a rudimentary understanding of history, the Constitution, or why so many of the customs and laws we have in place are there to begin with, impatiently demanding that we sweep it all away for whatever sounds good at the moment.
Unfortunately, you simply cannot have a functional government or healthy culture if you operate this way. Policy needs to be at least roughly similar to a scientific experiment. Here’s what we currently do. Here’s the hypothesis we have about how to make it better. If it works, a, b, and c should happen. If it doesn’t, x, y, and z should happen. If d, e, or f happens, it proves our idea was wrong. If we abandon all of this and fall back to, “You have to be on my side and support whatever ideas we come up with to be a good person,” not only will it produce garbage policies, it will eventually devolve the country into masses of people saying, “Give me what I want and I don’t care who it hurts, whether it’s good for the country, or whether it benefits anyone but me and my little tribe.” Increasingly, that’s where we are as a nation and if it keeps up, eventually, somehow or some way, those tribes are going to break off from a whole that doesn’t benefit them and go their own way. All because we tore down Chesterton’s fence.