Saturday, October 21, 2006


The Reactionary Utopian
September 26, 2006

by Joe Sobran

This year, 2006, is widely described as an "election
year." I think it would be more accurate to call it a
"reelection year." This time the future of our nation
will be at stake, as they say.

The voters are really angry. They are angry at both
parties, at the president, and at Congress. They are sick
and tired of the status quo -- war, high taxes,
corruption, runaway spending, soaring gasoline prices,
and poisoned spinach. They're mad as hell and they're not
going to stand for it anymore. They are demanding change
in Washington. And in a democracy like our own, the
voters are sovereign.

So, this November, the voters, in their awful fury,
are going to rise up and send the incumbents back to
Washington. That's what they always do. This is how a
vibrant democracy works.

Is there any cure for it? Yes. That's why I'm
writing. When the voters have made such a hash of
democracy, the only hope lies with the nonvoters.

Superficially, the nonvoters would appear to be the
brainiest part of the electorate: the elite 50 per cent
or so who are too sensible to bother thinking about
whether to elect Tweedle-Dee or Tweedle-Dum. So they
leave us at the mercy of those who imagine they see
crucial differences between the two candidates -- clones
who pretend they are diametric opposites.

Then Tweedle-Dee gets elected, and then reelected,
and reelected again, per omnia saecula saeculorum. He
becomes what we now call a "career politician," something
that would have horrified the Founding Fathers, who hoped
for frequent "rotation in office."

The obvious solution is for nonvoters to start
voting, or for a few voters to get smart. The rule should
be simply this: Never vote for an incumbent. Always vote
for the challenger, even if he looks worse than the

This would achieve several things. It would put an
end to the career politician, it would nullify the power
of money in elections, and it would weaken both major
parties. "Reelection Day" would be a thing of the past.

If only a tenth of the vote regularly went against
the incumbent, we would have "rotation in office" and the
advantages of incumbency would be wiped out. The ability
of politicians and, especially, their parties to
accumulate power would be severely reduced. This would
also mean that few politicians would be worth bribing,
directly or indirectly.

After all, most elections are decided by less than
10 per cent of the vote. The regular defeat of most
incumbents would be a healthy development. Let
Tweedle-Dum rule -- for one term. Then throw him out too.

Even now, voters are by no means entirely dumb,
though they are usually confused. Many of them realize
instinctively that voting means choosing the lesser evil
and that government is most bearable when neither party
has a monopoly of power. "Gridlock," with both parties
frustrating each other, is the nearest approximation we
have to constitutional government.

An incumbent is a man who already has more power
than he should. As a rule he should be replaced at the
first opportunity. The few exceptions don't matter enough
to modify the rule.

The American political genius has always lain in its
instinct to limit government, to divide and disperse
power. The powers of the Federal Government are listed,
defined, specified; some are denied to it, some are
positively assigned to the states, some are distributed
among the three branches. At the state level, we have
similar divisions, along with county and municipal levels
and their specific jurisdictions. And then there are
courts and juries.

Power can always be abused, tyranny can never be
entirely done away with, and some people will always see
the increase and concentration of political power as
"progressive" or at least advantageous to themselves.
Maybe the best we can do is to cultivate the habit of

And one way to achieve this is to keep reminding
ourselves that keeping a political office is not a sort
of property right. The seat now held by Senator
Tweedle-Dee is not "his" seat. If the people have any
political right, it is the right to change their rulers,
and they should exercise this right as often as they can.

Again: If only a tenth of the eligible voters
determined to vote against every incumbent in every
election, American politics could be peacefully

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