What If Elections Don't Matter?

Judge Andrew Napolitano

1/12/2012 12:01:00 AM - Judge Andrew Napolitano

What if Democrats and Republicans were two wings of the same bird of prey?

What if elections were actually useful tools of social control? What if they just provided the populace with meaningless participation in a process that validates an establishment that never meaningfully changes? What if that establishment doesn't want and doesn't have the consent of the governed? What if the two-party system was actually a mechanism used to limit so-called public opinion? What if there were more than two sides to every issue, but the two parties wanted to box you in to one of their corners?

What if there's no such thing as public opinion, because every thinking person has opinions that are uniquely his own? What if public opinion was just a manufactured narrative that makes it easier to convince people that if their views are different, there's something wrong with that -- or something wrong with them?

What if the whole purpose of the Democratic and Republican parties was not to expand voters' choices, but to limit them? What if the widely perceived differences between the two parties was just an illusion? What if the heart of government policy remains the same, no matter who's in the White House? What if the heart of government policy remains the same, no matter what the people want?

What if those vaunted differences between Democrat and Republican were actually just minor disagreements? What if both parties just want power and are willing to have young people fight meaningless wars in order to enhance that power? What if both parties continue to fight the war on drugs just to give bureaucrats and cops bigger budgets and more jobs?

What if government policies didn't change when government's leaders did? What if no matter who won an election, government stayed the same? What if government was really a revolving door of political hacks, bent on exploiting the people while they're in charge?

What if both parties supported welfare, war, debt, bailouts and big government? What if the rhetoric that candidates displayed on the campaign trail was dumped after electoral victory? What if Barack Obama campaigned as an antiwar, pro-civil liberties candidate, then waged senseless wars while assaulting your rights that the Constitution is supposed to protect? What if George W. Bush campaigned on a platform of nonintervention and small government, then waged a foreign policy of muscular military intervention and a domestic policy of vast government borrowing and growth?

What if Bill Clinton declared the era of big government to be over, but actually just convinced Republicans like Newt Gingrich that they can get what they want out of big government, too? What if the Republicans went along with it?

What if Ronald Reagan spent six years running for president promising to shrink government, but then the government grew while he was in office? What if, notwithstanding Reagan's ideas and cheerfulness and libertarian rhetoric, there really was no Reagan Revolution?

What if all this is happening again? What if Rick Santorum is being embraced by voters who want small government even though he voted for the Patriot Act, for an expansion of Medicare and for raising the debt ceiling by trillions of dollars? What if Mitt Romney is being embraced by voters who want anyone but Obama, but don't realize that Romney might as well be Obama on everything from warfare to welfare?

What if Ron Paul is being ignored by the media not because theyclaim he's unappealing or unelectable, but because he doesn't fit into the pre-manufactured public opinion mold used by the establishment to pigeonhole the electorate and create the so-called narrative that drives media coverage of elections?

What if the biggest difference between most candidates was not substance but style? What if those stylistic differences were packaged as substantive ones to re-enforce the illusion of a difference between Democrats and Republicans? What if Romney wins and ends up continuing most of the same policies that Obama promoted? What if Obama's policies, too, are merely extensions of Bush's?

What if a government that manipulated us could be fired? What if a government that lacked the true and knowing consent of the governed could be dismissed? What if it were possible to have a game-changer? What if we need a Ron Paul to preserve and protect our freedoms from assault by the government?

What if we could make elections matter again? What if we could do something about this?