Not to be confused with Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, a religious program broadcast on CBN (about which I won’t comment), the 600 Club refers to the officious thugs who comprise our federal government, and essentially run our lives.
Take the 435 Congressmen, 100 Senators, 1 President, 9 Supreme Court justices, add some assorted cabinet members, advisors and other lackeys, round it off and 600 is just about right. Think about it, a mere 600 people attempting to manage a nation of 300 million! Can this possibly work? Is it even sensible?
Make no mistake – this is a club. As Rothbard points out in his seminal work, For a New Liberty, the effectiveness of our much-lauded system of checks and balances is “flimsy indeed.” The Executive is nominated from the ranks of the Legislative branch, while the Supreme Court is appointed and anointed by the other two branches. They are all part of the same political fraternity, and (except for a few rare individuals) will always vote to expand their power and influence – and there is no outside agency that can trump them.
Of course, before Lincoln trashed the Constitution and forever quashed the power of the individual states, there was such a constraint, at least in theory. State nullification, as proposed by Jefferson and Madison in their Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, declared that state legislatures had the right to decide the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress. This was a vital check on federal power which was, inexplicably, rejected by the majority of states, then hysterically denounced by President Andrew Jackson thirty years later; the concept is all but forgotten today. As a result, our country is now being blatantly run (into the ground) by the 600 Club, while the states kowtow to it for money and happily transfer responsibility to it, so they can shrug their metaphorical shoulders when things go awry.
Over a decade ago I drove cross-country, west to east, and as I was rolling through the flat, brown pastures of Wyoming, it occurred to me that the lives of its residents must be so foreign to mine that we might as well be living on different continents. I also wondered how any law passed by the federal government, 1,600 miles away, could realistically apply to those folks. How could Washington politicians possibly know what they might need, feel or want? How could any federal legislation, for the “good of the country” as a whole, not be to their detriment?
Wyoming has two Senators and one Congressman; how can the interests of its 500,000 citizens possibly be adequately represented in the federal government? Now, I’m certainly not suggesting we elect more federal officials or create more government at any level; my purpose is merely to ask if our current system does an adequate job of representing its citizens – or is it a sham?
Despite public school brainwashing that central government is “inevitable and superior,” this position has been challenged by many scholars, and it seems almost intuitively obvious that smaller governmental units are more rational. Simply assume that the 600 Club were managing Wyoming’s population of 500,000, instead of the entire country’s 300 million. Which do you think it would have a better chance of running successfully?
One wonders how our putative representatives can possibly represent us adequately. Assume three major issues with two positions each – say Iraq, immigration, economy. There are thus 2 x 2 x 2 or eight different choices of candidate needed to represent any given voter on election day. We get only two alternatives. How is this representative democracy?
As detailed by other contributors to this website, democracy in the United States seems to have become a case of bickering left-wing socialists (Democrats) and right-wing socialists (Republicans), both operating under a gentlemen’s agreement to adopt similar platforms and policies, provide ever more “freebies” to the populace to attract votes, and not rock the boat. Each party knows that eventually its time will come, as its “enemy” falls out of favor, and then its own comrades will control all the goodies for a while. The 600 Club may gain and lose members, but the club itself, and its raison d'être remains.
On Election Day this November, I will vote many times for my new favorite write-in candidate, “Reject Both.” This is not my original idea (and, unfortunately, I can’t seem to locate its creator to provide credit where it is surely due), but I heartily agree with it – this should be a printed option on every ballot. If Reject Both gets more votes than either of the other candidates, it “wins” the election and a new one must be held. Until a satisfactory candidate is nominated and elected, the office stays vacant. While many political offices might thus remain vacant for considerable periods of time, I sincerely doubt that it would make much difference in any of our lives.
October 10, 2006
Andrew S. Fischer has worked in various fields.