Give Us a King!

king

In celebration of July 4, two political scientists wrote in the Washington Post that One-third of the world’s population lives in a declining democracy. That includes the United States.

The proximate causes of this dire situation are the election of Trump and the failure of Republican politicians to limit Trump’s excesses in any way.

But, to understand the situation, we must take the analysis a few steps further. Who are these Republican politicians and what is their business? I will answer my own question. They are in the business of taking money from their paymasters—big business, mostly—and using that money to gain votes from the gullible and the culturally backward.

In their blindness and cupidity, our economic elites have failed us badly. (I have predicted elsewhere that the trade war will have grave consequences, and will cause the plutocracy to rue its decision to tolerate Trump. Will that happen? “We’ll see.”)

As to the Trump voting base, I grew up among the people who became Trump supporters. I know that this population varies considerably along all relevant dimensions, including intelligence and empathy. But I know that strands of hatred and resentment are strong, and that they are susceptible to bad political leadership. Before there was Trump there was George Wallace and there was Lester Maddox.

Now in my eighth decade, I have seen much of life, and evil does not surprise me. But what does amaze me is the stupidity of so many of my fellow ‘Mericans. They really should read the Bible that so many of them claim to revere:

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle* and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’