The Democratic Party is jubilant just now because, among other things, they are awash in cash. The millions of dollars in corporate cash that flowed to the Republican Party during the heyday of Karl Rove is now flowing to the Democrats. Now, it is just possible that Corporate America has experienced a mass conversion, a change of heart than has resulted a change of contributions.
This is possible, but I doubt it. Rather, the money flows on what might be called the “Vicar of Bray” principle, namely that “whatsoever king shall reign,” the corporations will still retain their power and influence. It is power, and not principle, the directs the flow of cash. The corporations treat these lobbying and political expenses like any other investment; they expect (and get) a high return on their dollars. These returns come in the form of favorable tax treatment, friendly “regulations,” subsidies, and an endless stream of the kinds of “goodies” that only a beneficent government can provide. Government becomes a contest of competing oligarchs and the will of the people—the foundation of a democracy—becomes the will of those with lots of cash.
The great enabler of this form of oligarchic government is the Party System and especially the two-party system. This system is not constitutional, but it might as well be, since it is written into the laws of every state and of the federal government as well. The two parties enjoy a position in government that is sanctioned by positive law, and in practice no candidate can run—or even get on the ballot—without their sanction. But the parties themselves stand as mere proxies, not for real principles, but for principalities and powers.
None of this is news, of course. Hilaire Belloc and Cecil Chesterton noted all these problems as far back as 1911 in their book, The Party System. Belloc was, of course, a member of Parliament who resigned, calling Parliament noting more than “secret government by the rich.” Well, the secrets out, and has been out for a long time. But with power vested in the parties, the people seem to have little power to change things.
IHS Press will issue a new edition of The Party System with a foreword by Ron Paul. This is appropriate, since Congressman Paul does not quite fit into the standard political categories dictated by the two-party system. Actually, few of us do, but all of us find ourselves forced to hold our noses and vote, usually for the best of a bad lot. But Ron Paul has chosen the deliberate path of the rebel, much as Belloc and Chesterton did.
Now, I am not a libertarian, for reasons I have outlined previously (“Why I am not a Libertarian”). I do not think it is a complete theory. Nevertheless, I believe that a distributist state would more resemble the libertarian ideal than it would resemble anything else. Hence, I have a certain sympathy for certain forms of libertarianism. And I have a certain sympathy for a candidate who has read at least one book of Belloc's. And mostly, I have a great deal of sympathy for a candidate who stands on principle. So I will likely vote for Ron Paul, even though I am not in complete agreement with him.
Paul does understand that the solution is in our power, and more to the point, in our constitution. As he notes:
the United States Constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate the time, place, and manner of federal elections. Ballot access is one of the few areas where Congress has explicit constitutional authority to establish national standards. So we have no excuse for not having taken care of this problem.
Further, he understands the major effect of this problem:
The sad fact is that if we today have allowed a decline in our vigilance and watchfulness over our precious freedom, our independence, and our right to manage our affairs for ourselves – such that we feel today that government is simply not responsive to the wishes of the average man and woman – the reality is that this divorce between the will of the people and the workings of the “democratic machine” happened a long time ago, and it did so in a country that we can rightly call the nursery of our own democracy: England.
Finally, Ron Paul takes his goal directly from Hilaire and Cecil:
An “Executive responsible to the representative assembly” is what Belloc and Chesterton have set forward as the ideal, and yet how many unconstitutional wars, unauthorized wiretaps, signing statements, and foreign renditions do we have to have before this representative body – the Congress – flexes its muscle and takes a stand upon matters of law and our Constitution?