“Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”
~Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776~
It would be so easy to just leave that sit right there. Agree or disagree, Paine’s quote is pretty self explanatory. The pros and cons of aligning yourself to his line of thinking could be discussed at length. Why did he feel this way? Was it personal to him? Was his belief timeless or cultural?
Briefly breaking it down,as I see it, and, with no context, it would seem to be, ‘Simply Put,’ Common Sense.
Not only is society a “blessing,” but society and government are contrasted! He doesn’t say ‘society is a blessing AND government… but a necessary evil,’ but rather, ‘society is a blessing, BUT government… but a necessary evil.’ It’s as if he’s saying society and government are two separate life forms entirely. Which makes sense on the surface anyway, but it’s more polar than we realize.
Every election cycle candidates get all down and dirty with the common folk. Obama’s just one of the guys. Romney’s just a good ol’ boy like you and me. It’s important to know where these people come from in forming a belief as to how they are qualified, how they will respond, who they’ll protect, and who they’ll attack – and with whom you will align your vote. But make no mistake – despite their image as it pertains to how it was molded and recorded in society, they are striving to become a force that is not part of that society – a necessary separate governing body of power.
I would think that common sense would also dictate that ‘history is the best teacher.’ It would make no sense to disregard a persons societal history when considering him/her for the most powerful position in the country just because the position is separate from society. It’s (their history) integral to the process!
Most if not all of this is already commonly understood. Paine speculates that society is a blessing, that government is evil, that bad government is intolerably evil. Add my thoughts and it’s all very basic. Nothing new under the sun, right? So then if this is all so basic, as I submit that it is, then how under heaven did Obama get in The White House?
The problem is that we have come to see government as the savior. MSM decried Bush and his policies and we bought it. We The People wanted change and were willing to take any change at all so long as it wasn’t another Bushesque candidate. The MSM sold McCain as another 4 years of Bush and a majority of Americans were willing to overlook a complete absence of personal history of his opponent, and a less than impressive senatorial history (to put it mildly) and elect the more progressive of 2 progressives. Objectivity went out the window during every step of the process. Americans were awed by charisma enough that the very few things that Obama was clear on, that under normal circumstances most would consider disqualifying, (no real senate voting record, radical abortion views, avered skyrocketing electric rates, etc.) were either overlooked or somehow justified under the guise of compassion or societal responsibility. What struggling American family would vote FOR higher electric rates? What decent person would vote FOR not protecting a baby born alive being protected by law? What sensible American would vote FOR a candidate that has literally no political voting history? The American people threw ‘Common Sense’ to the wind and trusted a man who espouses bigger government, more regulations, more taxes, higher gas prices, more liberal abortion policies, and on and on and on. Failure to see this one individual – what very little we knew about him – as untrustworthy, inauthentic, and principally unelectable, combined with an unhealthy trust in him, led to him being where he is and to us being where we are.
On the ‘I gotta go there’ front, although the other guy was so similar in political idealism to Obama compared to what the average American apparently wants, he was so demonized by the MSM that maybe the outcome was inevitable. Two candidates basically arguing over whose socialized medicine would be better and only one with the media’s approval… Yeah.
America needs to reset back to factory defaults. I gotta believe that if the frog in the ever warming water pot could be convinced that eventually he’d boil to death that he’d have to hop out. Government at its best is but a necessary evil. All of the founders knew this, set restrictions on the power, scope, responsibility, and put the people ultimately in charge of keeping it that way. They knew and warned against becoming complacent. We’ve done worse than become complacent. We’ve become dependant. Government has become our salvation instead of just, well, government. Paine’s warning goes unheeded as citizens on both sides rely on their idea of government as the one to trust. Rather than insisting the government be held accountable no matter which party is in charge and being involved to insist this happens every step of the way, we think we can find a like minded politician, elect them, then go back to our lives sans involvement. We fail to realize that where evil lurks we must be vigilant.
Would you leave your door unlocked in a high crime area? Keys in your car? Purse on the seat? Kids alone in the park? But we won’t even keep tabs on the one who could single handedly dismantle it all! Now he’s as progressive as a select few warned and far more progressive than most believed possible. The founders believed that ‘power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ They’d seen this and worked every angle that their remarkable minds could come up with to prevent it from happening to the U.S. They also knew that the type of government that could work would depend on the free will of the people. Which ultimately means the free will to reject it. Most have – if by complacency and nothing else.
That’s why half the government is trying to demonize patriots, the tea party, libertarians, etc. Some have awoken to the idea that in order to keep at least what we have in the lines of liberty and personal freedoms that we must be vigilant and active. The left is not just ignorantly lashing out as fools do.
They are afraid that their patient and deliberate destruction of American values and ethics may someday soon be legitimately threatened. With their uncanny ability to preemtively strike while causing a whirlwind of misinformation and paranoia, they continue inching forward.
And to me they don’t seem the least bit worried. Maybe that more than anything else scares the hell our of me.
Some have awakened. Some proverbial frogs have been made aware and believe that the temperature is rising. Somehow, we are being made aware. And as we awaken, it seems as though the chasm deepens between the left and the right.
Buy I’m convinced that of the many that vote, few are informed. In generically worded values polls, most of us agree. Most of us agree with capitalism – if we don’t call it that. Most agree with the pro-life stance – when abortion is not called birth control. It’s all in the propaganda.
And regardless of what side of the fence we wind up on, we must all remember that the roll of government is like a pencil line compared to the English Channel that we’ve allowed it to become.
There is not one side or the other or even a third party that we can just elect and then just cut loose to take care of us. And the reason is: ‘government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.’
I liken the government to the scorpion in the parable of The Fox and the Scorpion…
A flood came and the island was slowly going under water. The fox waited and waited for the rain to stop but it never did. It became apparent that the island was indeed going to be completely under water. The fox decided to swim to the mainland.
After one last look back at his home, the fox headed off towards the edge of the water.
“Wait!” he heard a voice say.
The fox looked and saw a scorpion. “What do you want?” the fox asked.
“Let me ride on your back to the mainland. I can’t swim and if I don’t get a ride I’ll drown.”
“No,” said the fox immediately. “You’ll just sting me and we’ll with drown.”
“No!” insisted the scorpion. “That would be suicide! I’d never do that!”
The fox quickly mulled it over. Reluctantly, he agreed to give the scorpion a ride. The scorpion climbed on the fox’ back and together they went into the water.
About halfway there, the scorpion stung the fox. As the paralyzing poison took effect and the fox started to drown, he managed one last word, “Why?”
“Because,” answered the scorpion, “I’m a scorpion. It’s what I do.”
Eternal vigilance – Nothing less will suffice!