Saturday, March 5, 2011

Citzens Anonymous

Welcome to the blog of the Recovering Bureaucrat, a soi-disant haven of adult conversation about the troubles we the citizens of California and the United States have created with our governments. The Recovering Bureaucrat’s intention is to inspire an honest dialogue about the actual challenges we face in designing and paying for government. He, like so many of us, is tired of the bloviating and posturing that too often substitutes for plain talk and sober fact-facing.

He’s been noticing for some time now that the tattered remains of the Mainstream Media in California, reduced essentially to the single big daily newspapers of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, Orange County, and San Diego, endlessly recycle the same old “solutions” to the state’s endemic budget drama. He also notices the sharks that circle the conversation from the Left and the Right in the blogosphere, offering that enticing (and historically successful) political philosophy, “I’m right; you’re Hitler; bring it on.”

Ho hum.

The Recovering Bureaucrat notes that, in a democratic republic like ours, where the inmates are constitutionally indeed in charge of the asylum, he must accept that the right to be an idiot is a protected class in our constitutional order. Indeed, the Supreme Court again underscored this difficult truth in its 8-1 decision this week in the case of Snyder v. Phelps, upholding the right of members of the Westboro Baptist “Church” to publicly proclaim their ultra-tenuous hold on sanity in public.

(Why, the RB wonders, would anybody allow himself to be “hurt” by the demonstrable lunacy of these people, and to dignify them by litigating his feelings? He hopes to see displays of the sterner moral fiber of Americans, the kind of intestinal fortitude that allowed us to absorb 600,000 deaths as a reasonable price to pay to end slavery, for instance. Oh, that was 150 years ago.)

But it is time that we take back our political discourse from vapidity, sloganeering, coarseness, and selfishness disguised as righteousness. This blog aims to be an element of this renaissance. It will name names, step on toes (even sometimes its own, the RB being a bit clumsy), and offer fresh insights. It will relentlessly remind us all that we are collectively responsible for the trash we have created and the dunghill upon which we have deposited it. No more easy slamming politicians and “special interests.” No more lazy finger-pointing. No more inch-deep analysis of difficult, complex, and long-in-the-making problems. And no more demonizing fellow citizens.

We are all in this together, and there is nowhere for us to hide. America, for better or for worse, is a microcosm of humanity. The whole world lives here. Every country and every ethnic group of the planet Earth have sent representatives to this country, attracted by its promise of individual freedom based upon lawful self-governance.

California is a particularly rich version of this world blend. The tough truth, the big truth upon which Abraham Lincoln based his defense of the U. S. against the slave state secessionists of 1861, is that America is more than a country, it’s a commitment.

It’s a commitment first and foremost to our founding principles, articulated in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution, and established in application in the Constitution itself. It is also a commitment to civic engagement, because there is no one outside of ourselves responsible for maintaining and acting upon this commitment.

Keeping this commitment implies a citizenry willing to be aware that its prosperity derives, at least in part, from the defense of these principles on a daily basis. The Recovering Bureaucrat sees every day tiny little violations of our founding principles by government agents and by citizens who accept them without protest.

Every officer of California’s government takes an oath to uphold the state’s constitution in the fulfillment of his or her duties. Although the California constitution is an embarrassing jumble of broad principles and pernicious micromanagement, the preamble is clear: We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure and perpetuate its blessings, do establish this Constitution.
Secure and perpetuate the blessings of freedom—how’s that working for us? And those gratitude and God things—where are they in our civic discourse?

In blogs to come the Recovering Bureaucrat will examine many issues pertaining to the dysfunctional government we have created for ourselves, particularly over the past forty years. He will look at examples of official lunacy not only for their sheer entertainment value, but to ask how we can design a twenty-first century government that actually does what we want—bounded by our founding principles—at a price we are willing to pay.

Through it all, he promises to remain cheerfully humble, aware of his own limitations and cherishing the human foibles of his fellow citizens, but committed with unshakeable faith to the America and the founding principles that Lincoln gave his own life to defend.

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