"And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps." ~ H.L. Mencken
The Confessions of Congressman X
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
A very slim volume was published in late May, which, although it may hold few new revelations for the long initiated, is nevertheless a grimly fascinating window view into the mind of a modern American bureaucrat: At once and at times fraught with sociopathy . . . and yet filled with a kind of jaded cynicism that belies pangs of bitter conscience, intertwined with a kind of scornful resignation. The picture that emerges is one of a conflicted, psychologically disturbed creature – both frightening, and violently reprehensible.
The mere 65 page volume in large type (I refer here to the print edition, in any case) comprises perhaps an hour’s read, compiled from notes taken by the close confidant of a Democratic congressman who has obviously chosen anonymity. These notes were reputedly later approved and slightly edited by their subject, and then made public for all the world to see. This series of opinions, insights, and observations says nothing whatever of a positive nature about politics, elections, the legislative process, or government in general. They in fact describe a world of hubris, favor-currying, bribery, self-centeredness, manipulation, deceit, and total arrogance. A world where campaign fundraising for re-election is paramount above all else, and kowtowing to whomever that money is coming from supercedes everything.
In fact, the first 30 or so pages deal almost exclusively with such considerations. The title of the first section is one that all voluntaryists can appreciate, “Voters Are Incredibly Ignorant.” At page 3, the congressman states, “Voters claim they want substance and detailed position papers, but what they really crave are cutesy cat videos, celebrity gossip, top 10 lists, reality TV shows, tabloid tripe, and the next fucking Twitter message.” He continues in this vulgar vein on the next page: “It’s far easier than you think to manipulate a nation of naive, self-absorbed sheep who crave instant gratification.”
He hurls invectives at the data that members of Congress are ostensibly supposed to rely upon when crafting and passing law after law after law: “Even our government agencies have become Pinocchios. Misinformation is taken for granted. Prejudicial statistics, selectively chosen data, slanted surveys, purposeful omission of key facts, rigged numbers, outright lies. You just don’t know who or what to believe anymore” (p. 32).
On pages 55-56, in a section titled, “We’re Terrible Custodians of the People’s Money,” he continues in this vein: “The federal government’s a sprawling mess. No one can possibly comprehend everything it’s up to. Government agencies pretty much do what they want, viewing us elected legislators as little more than temporary nuisances. Here today, gone tomorrow.
“With little congressional monitoring, regulatory agencies seem to operate on their own beliefs. Interpreting the laws we pass but never follow through to conclusion.
“In a sensible world we would regularly revisit laws and regulations to see if they’ve had the intended consequences. Times change, and some may need to be fine-tuned or taken off the books. But who has the time?
“The more laws we pass and fail to follow through on, the more common sense we seem to suck out of life.”
At page 42, “X” openly admits what most Americans already know: “We pass laws, then figure out ways to exempt ourselves from the effects of those laws. We do the same thing with tax policies. Rules don’t apply to us, just the rubes we represent. And we wonder why they’re pissed.”
Interestingly enough, “X” tries throughout this short narrative to characterize himself as a “classic 1970s moderate”; a well-intentioned enough champion of the downtrodden, tragically hamstrung by and caught up in the wastefulness and corruption of political culture. He goes so far as to say, at pages 50-51: “Look. Just as the GOP can’t hope to survive as the party of no government, no taxes, no tolerance . . . we can’t expect to survive as the party of government-dependent souls who simply want more for nothing.”
Hell, isn’t that last the very definition of politicians and the bureaucrat class? Well-monied non-producers? And as for his description of the GOP . . . well, would that all Republicans were to become Voluntaryists!
In the final segment, “I’m Not Hopeful About the Future,” at page 61 he opines, “The political system’s broken. And nobody knows what to do about it. People are too busy. Too self-absorbed. Too apathetic. Too stupid. Or maybe they’ve just plain given up on changing the status quo. I hear the anger, but it isn’t being translated into momentous action.”
Of course, the good congressman’s definition of “action” all falls within the governmental and political paradigm. And nothing gets more status-quo than that. Who’s too stupid, X?
If nothing more, this book paints a truthfully grim picture of reality for anyone still blind to it. It is a highly recommendable dose of hardcore Wake-Up Call for any of your statist acquaintances who still feel as though voting or campaigning is a viable remedy for what is clearly a collapsing, dying, and discredited system. And while the “solutions” Congressman X proposes at closing are just more of the same tired old statist “reform” nonsense, these confessions – such as they are – when combined with an additional education in Voluntaryism, can serve as sorely needed medicine for the average political thinker in today’s outrageously taxed, regulated, tyrannized, and government-choked society.