“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” -Alexis de Tocqueville
Sadly, those words ring truer with each passing day.
Whether it’s for excessive municipal amenities like water parks or flashy new stadiums to host the latest bandwagon sports franchise or to buyoff political opposition threatening a strike and bad political optics if their demands aren’t met, politicians look at YOUR money like it's THEIR money and have zero hesitation before spending it on the whims of the day.
Ask 100 Americans if our national debt is too large and if government is spending too much and the overwhelming majority will respond with a near instantaneous “yes.” Ask them who’s to blame and before you’re likely to finish the question they’ll respond with an emphatic “politicians” or “the swamp.” Then ask if we should cut program X or department Y or benefit Z and you'll witness a rapid shift from principled conviction to obfuscation and non-committal responses.
The truth is we want everything, but we hate the realities associated with paying for it.
We say government is too big, too powerful, too involved in our lives, yet as a nation we continually allow—even ask in many cases—government to play a bigger and bigger role in our lives. We acknowledge the incontrovertible truth that government at-large is highly ineffective and should be limited, but we gnash our teeth and stomp around like a child at even the notion of "our" preferred programs being on the chopping block.
And while spineless politicians certainly shoulder a heavy load of blame, can we honestly place it squarely and exclusively on their shoulders? If politicians are merely a representation of the constituents that they serve, wouldn’t that—shouldn’t that—raise serious red flags about the true root of the problem?
They say the first step to fixing a problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. America, it's time to acknowledge the hard reality—that WE are a part of the problem.
We can no longer sit in our glass houses of big government largess and throw stones at the politicians, when we collectively pitch a fit anytime a principled elected official broaches the idea of reforming systemically and fatally flawed institutions like Social Security, public education, Medicare, welfare, and so many more so-called third rail issues.
While acknowledging that we are the root of the problem may be difficult and feel uncomfortable, it is also freeing because it means that the solution lies with us.
We alone have the capacity to fix the problem by curbing our appetite for the unnecessary and excessive offered to us by government and instead incentivizing our elected representatives, through rabidly steadfast support, to make the hard choices that reform, restructure and cut the programs, services, amenities and benefits that they govern—yes, even the ones we like.
We must have the courage to self-impose austerity within all ranks of government, effectively starving the system to the point that it returns to a reasonable size that can once again fit within the confines of our nation’s divinely inspired Constitution.
Only we can be responsible for taking back our Constitutional authority to govern our elected officials each and every time we step into the voting booth. First by electing men and women of principle and then firing them immediately if—and likely when in many cases—they fail to keep their promises to shrink the size of government.
There is nowhere to kick this can or punt this responsibility; at every level of government it rests solely on us to elect people who understand that when you shrink government, you grow freedom and that as freedom grows so too does opportunity, innovation, quality of life, prosperity and so much more.
Should we fail to realize a national awakening to this reality, we will have done irreparable harm to America’s future generations’ ability to enjoy the same freedom, opportunity and prosperity as we have today.