In our republican form of government, politicians are not our rulers, they are our employees. That goes, too, for the bureaucrats who staff the many federal agencies. But these days, it seems clear that many politicians, and perhaps even more bureaucrats, have lost track of who is working for whom. To cite just one of many examples, President Obama and Congressional Democrats would not have rammed Obamacare through Congress against the will of most Americans, contrary to the usual rules of the Senate, and without so much as reading the bill, if they took seriously the idea that they are our employees. Worse still is the fact that many Americans have come to share this view of elected leaders and their minions in the bureaucracy as our bosses; our rulers; our benefactors.
This is the context in which the current battle over gun rights is being fought. Those who would rule over us find the Second Amendment inconvenient, and therefore are happy to dispense with it, if they can muster the votes. It is noteworthy that the Second Amendment does not create a right to keep and bear arms, it refersto a right that it assumes to be pre-existent. The right to keep and bear arms is really the right of self-defense, which John Locke called “the fundamental law of nature.” So the current debate over gun control is about much more than guns. It goes to the nature of the relationship between the people and the state: are we free and independent citizens, or are we the grateful subjects of exalted rulers?
These are the themes that emerge from the NRA’s powerful new ad, “We Are America.”
Every day, in a myriad of ways, the Obama administration is striving to make the state bigger and more powerful, and the individual smaller and weaker. The NRA’s motto in the current controversy is “Stand and Fight.” That exhortation applies to a great deal more than the debate over gun control.
STEVE adds: About John’s comment on how our elected officials and bureaucrats forget whom they work for, I recall this passage from Max Weber’s “Politics as a Vocation,” about a conversation Weber had with American workers in Chicago around 1900:
Scarcely fifteen years ago, when American workers were asked why they allowed themselves to be governed by politicians whom they admitted they despised, the answer was: ‘We prefer having people in office whom we can spit upon, rather than a caste of officials who spit upon us, as is the case with you.’ This was the old point of view of American ‘democracy.’
And a good one it was, too.