Everyone is familiar with that quote from Lord Acton (1834 – 1902). Many people assume that it’s universally true, while others are aware of a few striking exceptions, from Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus to George Washington.
Despite the exceptions, Acton’s principle seems to be the general rule; but we disagree with Acton. We don’t think it’s because of the corrupting effect of power. Rather, it’s because power tends to attract corrupt people. Thus, most revolutions — regardless of the idealism with which they begin — culminate with absolutism, e.g., Napoleon, Stalin, Mao, etc.
This is seen not only in politics, but also in religion. As long as religious beliefs exist in an arena of competition, they tend to be benevolent. But whenever one of them achieves monopoly power, its leaders exhibit the most ghastly examples of human depravity. Perhaps the worst tyrannies of all are those ruled by God-Kings — not only those like the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, but also modern dictators who tend to use other titles, but they are God-Kings nevertheless, wielding supreme power in both politics and ideology. The best-known modern examples are Stalin and Hitler.
We’ve been spared that fate in America because the Founders intentionally set up a system of limited government, one not only held in check by the existence of quasi-sovereign states (which are much less sovereign these days), but also by governmental institutions that were created to keep each other in check, with the ultimate check provided by an armed population. It’s worked reasonably well — so far.
That’s all very nice, you’re thinking, but where is the Curmudgeon going with this? It should be obvious. Due to the absence of news about The Controversy between evolution and creationism, we are digressing into politics.
Let’s talk about the current contests for the US Presidential nomination. To be blunt, we think that both parties are crazed and leading us into trouble. We’ve written before of our acute discomfort with political developments in the US, with one party favoring a socialist, redistributionist welfare state, while the other party is increasingly creationist, sanctimonious, and theocratic. We know that our political opinions upset many of you, especially this post from 2010 — Creationism or Socialism: Which is Dumber? That’s one of our favorites, but it was probably our most contentious post ever.
Okay, what about the current race for the Presidency? On the Democrat side, there’s Hillary — about whom we don’t need to say anything — who is being opposed by the openly-socialist Sanders, who seems to be wildly supported by young voters. We wonder why we bother to spend billions on education, when we’re ending up with a generation of idiots. We should close the public schools and save the money. There would be no noticeable difference in the knowledge and thinking ability of young people. Anyway, as you’ve probably guessed, we see nothing in today’s Democrat party we could ever support. We know many of you feel differently. That’s okay; it’s our nature to be Curmudgeonly.
Which brings us to the Republicans. We’ve already posted about those who have declared themselves to be creationists. Most of the hard-core theocrats have already dropped out, which is very good. We abominate preacher-types who seek political power. Of those remaining in the race, only Trump hasn’t yet been specific about creationism — although he plays the religion card whenever he thinks it’s advisable. We suspect he’s only pandering. Anyway, he’s far from being our favorite. We no longer have a favorite.
It doesn’t matter now, but we liked Jeb Bush, who openly declared that he intended to run without the support of the GOP’s “base” of social conservatives — voters obsessively concerned with abortion, gay marriage, and Noah’s Ark. Unless Ted Cruz suddenly surges, we don’t need to worry about one of those.
If the eventual election is between Trump and one of the two Dems, your Curmudgeon’s decision won’t be enthusiastic, but it won’t be difficult. Even if the Dems are defeated, we’ll still be grumbling. It’s the Curmudgeonly thing to do.
We know we’ve upset many of you. Go ahead, unload. We’re used to it. Just keep it clean. We promise to return to The Controversy — as soon as we find some news.
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