by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It is well and good for Americans to be suspicious of their rulers. That is how the officials they elect are kept on track. But I frankly don’t have a lot of sympathy for this frustration anymore.
Do not get me wrong. I agree with the general sentiment that the “elites” think little of the average American. But the fact of the matter is that populist movements over the course of the centuries have opened up our political process such that, with the exception of appellate judges and Supreme Court justices, elites inevitably have to come back either to the people or their direct representatives.
That is, of course, the great revolution of the Constitution, which anchors government not on some hereditary nobility but on the people themselves. And think of all the changes that were made since the Constitution was finalized in September 1787. The Bill of Rights enshrined an elaborate jury system to check federal judges and prosecutors. The presidency has been opened up to popular vote. The 14th Amendment prohibited states from inhibiting political participation, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 put teeth on this protection. The Senate is now popularly elected. Primaries have democratized the political parties, essentially destroying machine politics for good.
There are very few corners of our government that cannot be changed if the people do not wish to change it.
The “elites” of today’s “establishment” continue to thrive because of the forbearance of the voters. Forbearance is not the same as consent. The former is a passive sentiment, while the latter is active.