Not Us. Never, Ever Us.

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The Mahatma Obama (peace be upon him), in a speech to graduates at the University of Michigan, said the following:

President Barack Obama took aim Saturday at the angry rhetoric of those who denigrate government as “inherently bad” and said their off-base line of attack ignores the fact that in a democracy, “government is us.”

Obama used his commencement speech at the University of Michigan to respond to foes who portray government as oppressive and tyrannical. He also appealed for a more civil political debate and advised graduates to seek out and consider alternative views on the issues of the day, even if it makes their “blood boil.”

The president told students and others in the audience — the school stopping giving out tickets once 80,000 were distributed — that debates about the size and role of government are as old as the republic itself.

“But it troubles me when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad,” said Obama, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree. “For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it conveniently ignores the fact in our democracy, government is us.”

First, I don’t hear many people — aside from the folks at this web site — saying “all of government is inherently bad.” The Tea Party folks love law enforcement and the Pentagon, war and the welfare state that war breeds, and don’t mind that taxing and spending because many of them trust it or benefit from it. (Tea Partiers only dislike government they don’t benefit from.)

But second, it’s important to emphasize again and again and again that this notion that we, the people, are in any way the government is fraudulent. The government is not us. It cannot ever be us. If it were, there’d be no need for signs that say “Property of the United States Government” with warnings to trespassers because how can citizens — who are sovereign — trespass on the property over which they are sovereign? It’s the problem of socialist property writ large, and it’s why popular sovereignty is bunkum. All human societies become societies in which a relatively tiny elite rule a majority, and democracy (along with ideology) is just modernity’s method of legitimizing that elite rule. I have compared democratic rituals to religious rituals before, and I do believe that elections are the central sacrament of democracy. A pointless sacrament of an idolatrous religion.

The truth is governments are always a menacing entity. Often times they are evil. Sometimes they are even foreign. Government is not us. And it will not ever be us.

10:50 am on May 1, 2010