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A Non-partisan Approach to Understanding Politics

To Whom Do You Give Power?

Which of you would give his most trusted, best friend total control over your life, from now on until your death? Who would you let decide in your place where your children will be educated, where you will live, how much money you will make, who will be your doctor, if you get married, to whom you get married, if you drive a car – and what kind of car, if you eat, how much you eat, what you eat, what medicine you take, and how old you may be allowed to live? Would you give anybody that power over you, even your must trusted friend?

Granted, some people would do just that. Other people, who are most disabled, have no choice but to give someone else that power over them. But for the majority of us, not one of us would give that level of control over our own life.

Yet, that is exactly what we do every time we elect somebody to political office. That is the power government wields over us. Power over us that we would not even give to our best friend, we give it freely to a stranger just because he has the title "politician". Politicians control marriage laws, income laws, travel laws, education laws, health laws, and any other law that touches any other aspect of our lives. That's not the way it was first intended in the United States, but that's the way it is today.

Think of this for a minute. Who are these politicians to whom we trust everything? Many of them are attorneys. Some are educators, some are activists, and a few are business people. But in almost every case, approaching 100%, no elected official is your personal friend or even your acquaintance. You don't even know these people, and yet you trust them to make your medical decisions, to educate your children, and to control every minute aspect of your lives.

How far will you trust an unknown person to make your decisions? Let's take a typical politician – a person you don't know and have never seen in person. This person lives in another city and perhaps another state. He or she may be an attorney who has done very well in his profession as an attorney. He has also done very well in his skill to being elected to political office. This is the person who makes decisions for your personal life that should be yours alone to make.

And now let's take two typical citizens: a woman who owns a flower shop and a man who is employed at an auto-repair garage. Can that unknown politician make proper, personal decisions for each person and his family? The florist does fairly well in her business, but she can barely afford to pay two employees. The mechanic makes almost minimum wage. He has two children, one who is ready to go to college and the other younger son is crippled.

The politician, who doesn't know either person, votes on and passes various laws. One law raises the minimum wage and also increase payroll taxes. That will force the florist either to go out of business or to fire an employee and raise her prices. She chooses the latter – losing an employee and raising prices – and so the unemployment rolls are increased and her business is decreased. The politician also increases government-backed student loans. To pay for them, other taxes are put on the florist, the mechanic and his employer. But at least the mechanic's daughter gets to go to college. His other son, however, is still wheelchair bound, because current government-directed healthcare laws allow him a wheelchair, but not an operation.

When the United States government was set up under our constitution in 1787, the government was supposed to be limited, not unlimited. Other governments in other countries were unlimited in their power over their citizens, but the United States was designed to be the exception. We are called "exceptional" not because we are better than anybody else – we're not. We are exceptional because we run our government in a different way, in a way that is the exception to the norm.

Ideally, we should have law and order within our own land. That means, no murdering, no stealing, no kidnapping, and such like. We should have safety from foreign invasion, thus we need a military and navy. We need certain regulations that explain how we're going to deal with contracts between people, how we're going to copyright new works and how the patent process will work. The constitution also defines how the federal government will work – the election cycles, the offices, the qualifications, and the like. State governments will focus on more local needs, and have their own state constitutions.

Otherwise, we were intended to be a free people. Free to live where we want. Free to earn or not earn as much money as we want. Free to send out children to the school of our choice that we could afford. Free to help our neighbors through charity. Free to attend our own church, and to pray where we want, how we want, and to whom we want. The only limits to our freedoms came when it infringed on another person's like freedom. We, as individuals, or the majority, or even the government, may not remove anybody else's "inalienable" rights.

That was the way we were exceptional.


Copyright © 2015 by Jerald L. Brown