You can tell just how warped people’s assumptions are when they speak of which presidential candidate is going to “run the country.” There are few political phrases that irritate me as much, because it reveals a pervasive belief that “someone has to be in charge.”
I was reminded of this again Thursday night when I saw comments on a Ron Paul website from random people in the public urging him to run in 2012, comments obviously left before he announced a couple of weeks ago. One of the comments said:
“I lean to left of center politically but I would vote for you to run the country as I believe you represent the fiscal common sense our nation requires.”
If you want Ron Paul — or Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney or anyone else — to “run the country,” you miss the entire point of what this nation’s government was supposed to be all about. But the fact that so many people do want this is yet another indication that we have to start something brand new — maybe many brand-new things — in different places for freedom to have a chance to grow again.
You run your own life. People are supposed to run their own companies. The government is supposed to have a very limited, defined role that provides a few essential services. A president is supposed to run the machinery of government that provides those few services. He’s not a puppet master. He doesn’t run your life. He’s not supposed to run businesses. He’s not supposed to run schools. If the role were what it really ought to be, being president would be no more exciting than managing a public utility. (And that’s even if you still believe in the state at all.)
It’s an indication of what people want today that they do want someone to “run the country.” They want someone to give them jobs. They want someone to give them health care. They want someone to make other people behave the way they want them to behave, even in their own homes. And they want someone to make sure that other people pay for what they want.
Children have their lives run by someone else. Adults run their own lives. Which are we?