The modern Republican ethos: the worst thing you can do for your country is to do your job

The problem with a system of government designed the way ours is designed is that, for it to work that way it should, all its component parts have to share a basic commitment that government should, you know, govern. Now, after carefully nurturing for 40 years the notion that government is bad, the Republican party has developed within it a legislative core that believes that, if government is bad, then governing is worse, that holds as an article of faith that the only legitimate function of government is to do nothing — loudly, if possible. For years, we have been confronted in our elections with the conundrum of people who run for high political office because they are “not politicians.” For years, we have elected — and re-elected — people to the national Congress in Washington because they are “not Washington insiders.” What you see now in the House is a generation of elected officials raised in the fundamental absurdity of that kind of thinking, members of Congress who believe that the best way to keep faith with the people who elected them is to not do the job the people back home elected them to do. “That government is best which governs least,” is a bromide that these people have turned into an iron syllogism. If that government is best which governs least, then the best possible government is that which governs not at all, and that, in the government’s innermost parts, the best representatives are those that do as little as possible. And here we are. A House Of Representatives that declines to participate in governing the country, that would prefer not to, under the leadership of the gentleman from Ohio, Bartleby The Speaker.

Charles Pierce

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