Sunday, August 13, 2006

Integrity in Government

There’s a lot of talk these days about the left-wing extremists of the Democrat Party taking over -- and making moderation, balance and perspective, politically and socially “incorrect.” That’s usually a sign of certain madness which eventually runs its course and corrects itself.

I was in Seattle prior to the violent riots promoted by the anarchists (against the World Trade Organization (WTO))-- and saw it coming. Working as a community activist trying to pull all the disparate “alternative” groups together, I noticed a disturbing trend: Working for the betterment of anything and longterm objectives, was replaced by the goal of just being disruptive -- for no other reason than that they could be, as the ultimate exercise of their power.

And that is the approach they’ve taken to government -- as the national minority party. As the majority party in Hawaii, such leftwing extremism is repackaged as “progressivism” and “liberalism,” giving both a bad name. One should not mistake the voice of dysfunction for the voice of intelligent dissent -- which is something quite different from the knee-jerk (self-) hatred demagogues promote as a sophisticated person’s humility and place in society.

It is not. The whole objective is to undermine one’s confidence in thinking for oneself. That is how I see the role of the representative in/of government being different from the traditional role of it: I think the greater role is to empower the participation of the citizens, rather than cultivating the notion of dependence on government and government bureaucrats and technocrats (experts).

I think the thing we all like most about the governance of Linda Lingle is that she never resorts to jargon to impress/intimidate us in explaining the workings of government -- and that is the underlying revolution she has brought to government, allowing ordinary citizens, like you and me, to reclaim government as something we do -- and not just as something government experts do. That is the greatest danger of government in American/Hawaiian life -- that the future is not decided by ourselves, but by these self-proclaimed experts who know better what is best for the people.

That’s what people don’t like about “government,” and drives most to this cynical attitude and regard for it. It is largely about narrow self-interests and lobbyists dictating the course of society. Though most people complain loudly that that is the way it is, they don’t seem to think there is anything they can do but complain -- and the newspapers encourage them in this futility and despair, to protect and defend the status quo -- rather than the larger transcendent values -- that are lost, and even ridiculed as something no “sophisticated” person ought to believe in anymore.

And that is foremost, one’s own goodness and intelligence -- to do the right thing, and not be compelled to do the right thing by laws governing every facet of one’s existence. Even more important than the laws and statutes, are the attitudes and values of those institutions that embody and represent us. That is the integrity and strength of government.