Let’s talk about the nature of predictive behavior and self-fulfilling prophecies for a moment. We can start with the famous quote by Ronald Reagan as evidence that self-predictive statements result in self-fulfilling prophecies. Reagan once said, “In the present crisis, government is not the solution to the problem, government is the problem.”
You can define a crisis any way you like. That’s the real problem. And when you go around manufacturing crises for the sake of getting your way on this issue or that, then government can be used to aid and abet the wishes of those who have not the best interests of the people in mind. They have their own issues in mind.
Often those issues have deeply conflicting roots. That’s why it feels like a crisis is at hand. When people see a situation that feels like it is outside their control, especially their political or ideological control, they easily call it a crisis.
Around such false premises are most crises formed. Yet what one political party calls a crisis, the other political party calls an investment in progress, or prevention of demise.
So the argument goes round and round. Meanwhile the claim that government itself is the problem gathers powerful meaning. That’s because politicians and religious leaders excel at leveraging that argument to their own benefit. How is it that someone in a government position can dare make the claim that, as Reagan once stated, “government is the problem.” If government is the greatest problem of the nation, what is the nation at all?
That’s like saying religion is the problem with Christianity, or that Christianity is the problem with religion. It doesn’t matter which way you say it. It’s using the existence of one thing to absolve the responsibility of the other.
You may recall for example that Jesus was not a Christian. He could not be, because as he lived there was not yet a symbolic act that created the faith upon which absolution of sins was based. He was both the egg and the chicken. So that argument is settled once and for all.
If we don’t accept that government is also both the egg and the chicken, then we can’t believe in its power to conduct the business of the people. Sure, one can argue about the so-called “size” of government and its supposed taxing powers. You can argue about its impacts on the lives of ordinary citizens. You can argue about the corruption that goes on within so many governments included and especially the United States of America, which despite its claims of exceptionalism is one of the biggest terrorist states ever known to humankind.
Without the deep confession that it’s the people who see government as the problem that are the problem, they are free to conduct themselves any way they like because it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s how we get the Oliver Norths and G. Gordon Liddy’s of this world doing what they like because they see themselves above and outside the constrictions of government. They are held to no accounting because their view of government is unaccountable. Same goes for corrupt governors like Illinois ‘Rod Blagojevich, who saw government positions as a commodity to be traded and sold. Or President George W. Bush, who won a second term by a small margin and claimed that he earned political capital that he could spend at will.
All such people are the vexing scourge of good government. Yet they seem to be the same people who somewhere along the line came to view government as a limiting factor on their ego and their will.
It all stems from worldviews founded on less than moral principles and understanding of the Bible and the Constitution. When we supplant personhood with notions that corporations have the same voice as individual citizens, we compromise the real meaning of government. That is how it becomes the problem.
By contrast using government to promote equal rights, fair commerce and healthy (but not exploitative) trade are signs that government is the solution to human need.
Even Jesus said “Give unto Caesar what it Caesars.” He understood that some form of government was necessary for human enterprise. But he did not necessarily approve of Roman rule and the type of authority expressed by the Romans, which disrespected all those who were not already Roman citizens by birth or adoption.
And that’s the difference. Government isn’t the problem. It is the brutal, manipulative character of the people running governments that is always the problem.