Frodo in a World of Boromirs (III)

Image: Peter Xavier Price

Was Frodo less resistant to the temptations of power than America's greatest president? No, not Reagan, or FDR, or Lincoln, or even Jefferson. Washington: the only President who was ever offered a lifelong throne and turned it down for a temporary desk in a bureaucrat's office. Almost to a man, his successors have been offered that same desk and have mistaken it for a throne. The current occupant, however sincere, is no exception (nor does it matter what month this is published or what year you read it). Roosevelt II -- as H.L. Mencken aptly called FDR -- actually tried to get a throne for himself, or the next best thing in a democracy, a permanent presidency. He came frighteningly close to succeeding before death intervened. The Onion's book Our Dumb Century contains a headline I contributed to sum up this absurdity: "Roosevelt's Remains To Run For Fifth Term."

In a year of partisan bitterness and economic havoc, it is well to recall that not every step is forward, not every change is for the better. Our Founders knew this. They grasped the truth of Lord Acton's words -- “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" -- long before he wrote them. They understood, along with Thomas Paine: "That government is best which governs least." And to our everlasting blessing, they did their best to enshrine that precept into a system made to preserve it. They tried to create a government whose various powers were strictly limited and balanced, a government directly answerable to the people, in whom all rights and powers were ultimately held to reside. Their effort was heroic, and for a time, so were the results.

Looking at our current plight one could say they failed us. But the truth is, we have failed them. We have forgotten and abandoned nearly every principle they stood for. Where our Founders saw very little that government could do, and even less that it should do, we see no area of life in which government should not be involved. Too often we see government as the leader, all-knowing, all-providing, all-powerful. The worse the crisis, the more frantically and counter-intuitively we seek government solutions. Just now we are suffering through a government-generated economic debacle from which (we are assured) only government can save us. (to be continued)

Kurt Luchs - First Things
Oct 27, 2008

4 comments:

Emmy said...

Sadly, this is very true.

Kim said...

I am standing up and loudly cheering! My husband, after finding out why, has joined me. HEAR! HEAR!

Roger R. said...

Thanks Kim... more to come of course...

Roger R.

amateur idler said...

Bravo.