They squander ever more vast amounts of our tax money, and still leave trillions of dollars of national debt to be paid by our children and grandchildren. They intrude into our private lives with ever more restrictions, red tape and electronic surveillance. And they turn different groups of Americans against each other with class warfare rhetoric and policies.
None of this is inevitable. In fact, this pattern is largely the culmination of political trends set in motion during the 1930s, and reaching a climax today. During the 1920s, the national debt was reduced and the role of government scaled back. Unemployment went as low as 1.8 percent.
President Calvin Coolidge, with every prospect of being reelected in 1928, declared simply: “I do not choose to run.” Later, in his memoirs, he explained how dangerous it is to have anyone remain too long in the White House, surrounded by flattery and insulated from reality. What a contrast that attitude is with the attitude of the current occupant of the White House!
The contrast extends beyond these two presidents. What we have today that we did not have in the early history of this country is a permanent political class in Washington — a Congress and an ever growing federal bureaucracy composed of people who have become a permanent ruling class.
The United States was not founded by career politicians but by people who took time out from their regular professions to serve during a crucial time in the creation of a new nation, and a new kind of nation in a world ruled by kings and emperors.