This is a guest post by author Yvette Carmon Davis
Is government a good idea?
I am not being facetious. I ask the question because I am a serious Christian. There are indications in the Bible that God did not want us—human beings—to have government. He believed that He was the best governor, judge and ruler.
Examine 1 Samuel 8. God informed us that we would not be happy with a king, and gave us the reasons why. He was right.
God seems to have been right about every form of governing since before kings and kingdoms went out of style. Taxes, eminent domain, drafting standing armed forces, government spending and social safety nets (or the lack thereof), are some of the things the governed haven’t liked about governing, from then until now.
But mostly, in modern times, the governed have not liked the personalities and practices of the individuals who have governed. The dislike applies to all of the elected and appointed officials to some degree, but primarily the executives: the prime ministers, the presidents, the chancellors, the premiers, and a limited number of monarchs.
What, exactly, are the problems that the governed have with the personalities and practices of the individuals who have governed? We can’t produce an exhaustive list because of the limited space, but here are the top six issues that arise in modern times:
Unsupported assertions – Statements about the condition of the country, the sovereign state, the territory, however the territory is characterized. The economy is good, the economy is bad; there is a national debt, there is no national debt, the size of the national debt. There are too many poor people. The poor pay too much in taxes, the rich not enough. It doesn’t really matter what the assertion is, if the President repeats it often enough, with authority, the ruled apparently begin to believe it’s true.
Lies are untruths. Untruths can be characterized as statements that are not facts. As distinguished from statements that seem truthful, but are unsupported by facts. The latter would fall into the category of speculation. But again, it seems that if the President repeats it often enough, with authority, the people begin to believe in the truth of it.
Lies that become truth – At some point, the President wants something in particular to be created, funded, implemented or exercised. He repeats the necessity for it until it is created, funded, implemented or exercised. Then it becomes the truth. When the alleged necessity becomes truth, the President asserts that it has always been the truth.
If anyone disputes it at any stage, the President asserts that any evidence that refutes his assertion is manufactured, and therefore not reliable. If they continue to argue that the evidence is reliable, and are tempted to believe the evidence, the President must repeat—often—that the one who has produced the evidence is unreliable.
Finally, the President repeats the assertion that the one who has produced the evidence is not credible. If the President repeats it often enough, people begin to believe that the individuals or organizations that produced the evidence are not credible. They believe that the evidence is not credible, and the lie is actually the truth.
Hidden truths – Some truths are not good for the President, his constituents, his colleagues, and/or his supporters. These truths are hidden, until they come to light. When they are exposed, the President may characterize them as unsupported assertions, or flat out lies. Or he may tell the governed the truths are lies, and state that they are lies long enough so that the ruled believe in their untruth.
Distractions – Distraction comes in different forms and in a range of intensity.
War, for example, is the most intense distraction. Armed conflict totally distracts a populace. A President or Prime Minister can get almost anything done while a war is raging. It’s life or death. The populace can’t really evaluate what a leader is doing, outside a citizen’s own immediate condition. During wartime, they don’t think that much about death, because their immediate circumstances are in flux, and they can’t control them. For example, a wartime economy is strong. The industries that sell goods and services to the government to support the war effort, cause the economy to heat up. All that hiring, manufacturing, shipping, packing, stocking and the like, causes a rise in profitability for every economic level in the population. The people are busy watching their own fortunes rise.
- The next best thing to wartime distraction, is getting caught in lies repeatedly, and avoiding the consequences. See above.
- The third best distraction involves a President turning the electorate against him. It is, admittedly, a tightrope. The temperature of the disaffection is key. Too much can be disastrous. A master at manipulating the body politic will cause just enough disaffection to cause the people to look left, while he walks on the right, or vice versa. A leader must never play this game unless he or she has created effective firewalls against unforeseen events, personalities and the like.
The Press – Even in the presence of a body politic that has declared its news services to be free and unfettered, there is a sturm und drang where the state and the press are concerned. The idea that the President cannot control the content of the press’s reports to the people, is unsettling to the President. He is truly out of control of the content of news reporting.
Every President holds press conferences and issues press releases. Nevertheless, he or she cannot truly anticipate the content of the reporting. As a result, the contents of news reporting that the President does not like, is characterized as inaccurate. Or worse, fake. Fake news.
A regime that wants to survive, and the President who heads it, should always control the news, the press. If he can’t control it, he must discredit it. If he cannot control or discredit the press, he must destroy it. And, finally, replace it with a bureau that reports only the news that the government permits.
Each and every one of the above are operated within the parameters of one overriding methodology: never tell anyone, everything. Parse the information so that each group or individual surrounding the President has a portion of the message that, if it is revealed, the President will know right away where it came from.
Then, whether the President admits or denies the content, he or she knows the identity of the informer(s), leaker(s), or others who expose the President. In addition, he or she will know how to most effectively redirect, destroy, lie, tell the truth, manufacture ‘evidence,’ that either or supports or refutes the content.
Each of the above issues negatively impacts the quality of our lives. The quality of the lives of the governed goes from bad to worse, as the President shuffles truth and untruth to consolidate and maintain influence. The losses to individuals are substantial, up to and including the loss of everything that makes life as the governed, good.
How can government be a good idea in light of the machinations of those who run it? That’s a good question. But a question that can only be answered, in a democratic republic, by each voter, in the privacy of the voting booth.
Yet, there is a final act of support for one’s form of government. To preserve a sovereign nation, it’s necessary for citizens to be vocal in their disapproval of the Machiavellian machinations of its officials.
Government may be a bad idea. But it’s what we’ve got. Let’s make most of it. Don’t let it go down without challenging each and every attack upon it. Let’s take aim. We have the power to challenge and replace those who seek to manipulate us to their personal advantage.
One final thought: even though God warned our ancestors that we would not like having a human ruler, a king, or government, He promised to appoint them for us. That is a two-edged sword if there ever was one. He has appointed good government and bad.
He has allowed good presidents, prime ministers and chancellors, and bad ones. We get the bad ones, when we, ourselves, have failed to meet His standards of conduct. I have heard it said that an immoral and dishonest President should not be judged harshly, because there are ancient kings who made mistakes. One of them, King David, remained a man after God’s own heart, even though he committed murder to fulfill his lusts.
Yes, but he was punished! Later, when David again disobeyed God, the people he governed also suffered! Do we really want to support the diabolical machinations of someone whose actions condemn us to share in his or her eventual decline?
I do not support anarchy. There is a school of Christian thought that anarchy is to be preferred to bad government. Some believe that Jesus argued for Christian anarchy. I cannot say that I agree with that interpretation. I DO say that, if we cannot not govern ourselves with government that we choose, how would we behave if we have no one to police us and protect the helpless?
Is government a good idea in 2017? The obvious answer is that each of the governed, armed with knowledge and understanding, gets to decide for herself.