Of the many things this election has demonstrated, one of the most important is the fact of the Forgotten Man.

I’m not referring to the typical interpretation of this phrase: the undemonstrative average worker who gets shut out of most political deals and just tries to live his own life as well as he can. No, I’m referring to something more universal.

Foundational to the classically liberal and revolutionary ideas of government is the idea of impersonal power. In contrast to the traditional structure of monarchical and aristocratic power, in which the state was closely associated with the church and certain individuals were ‘naturally’ appointed as rulers with a broad scope to act as individuals, the new system was supposedly directed towards removing power as much as possible from individuals in favor of impersonal laws and regulations.

C.S. Lewis summarized it well: “I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man…” Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.

It certainly sounds like a good idea on paper: mankind is fallen and corrupt, so no individual is entrusted with too much power. Instead what is law for one is law for all and no one person can change it, curbing man’s tendency to corruption with just and rational structure.

The People Behind the System

But there is a fundamental problem, and this year has been a large-scale object lesson in it.

When you have, say, a national election, and millions of people cast ballots, someone has to count those ballots. Someone – a person – has to collect them and read them and report what they say. Yes, you can put them through a computer or voting machine, but someone reads the number off of the machine and puts it into a tally. Someone collects those tallies and reports them.

Early Wednesday morning, someone made a ‘typo’ that gave Joe Biden an extra 200,000 votes in my home state of Michigan. In Wisconsin, someone suddenly ‘discovered’ about 100,000 ballots, all going for Biden. Others report massive shipments of ballots in the middle of the night as election officials added ridiculous numbers to the vote, bringing the voter turnout in places to well over a hundred percent. Meanwhile, several key swing states simply stopped counting in the middle of the night when the vote trended the wrong way, while in Michigan there are reports of GOP observers (and only GOP observers) being escorted out of the buildings where the votes were being counted over ‘Covid concerns.’

All these things are completely against the law. But here is what we forget about law: it can only be enforced and adjudicated by people. For instance, if a judge decides he doesn’t like a particular law or how it applies to a particular case, he can ignore it. He may be censured, but only if the true facts are made known and if his superiors don’t decide to go along with him. There is the court of public opinion, of course, which might pressure the corrupt into following the written law…but there again, public opinion is determined by which facts are presented to the public, which is controlled by people. If the people in charge of disseminating information decide to be selective about what they show, then there will be no public outcry. And does anyone seriously doubt they are extremely selective?

Law has no force of its own. It only has what it is given by those in charge of enforcing it, whether directly (in courts and legislatures) or indirectly (through public opinion). At the end of the day, whether the law has any effect comes down to what some individual person chooses to do.

Sir Josiah Stamp, the English collector of internal revenues, saw the problem back in the pre-war days:

“The government are extremely fond of amassing great quantities of statistics.  These are raised to the nth degree, the cube roots are extracted, and the results are arranged into elaborate and impressive displays. What must be kept ever in mind, however, is that in every case, the figures are first put down by a village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases."

No Need for Conspiracy Theories

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. There’s no need for a conspiracy. There is no need at all for the Democratic Party to be colluding with the New York Times and Twitter and Google in a plot to overthrow the American government (not that such a thing would be at all improbable). All that needs to happen is for there to be a set of sufficiently dishonest people with similar ideologies in decision-making positions throughout the system.

Given that the ideology in question has been taught in our schools and promoted by our media for decades, and given that it encourages its adherents to seek out and acquire positions of power in order to ‘change the world,’ and that it holds personal honesty as less valuable than political expedience, that is only to be expected (I’ve no doubt many of the people involved in this fraud thought of themselves as heroic champions of the oppressed).

No conspiracy, no collusion; just dishonest people with a shared belief in positions of power seeing and acting on opportunities to aid their own side. A few people get together to arrange for bringing in ballots. Someone else, far away, sees the impossible results but doesn’t call attention to them and dutifully records them nonetheless. Someone completely different orders the GOP observers removed and those working at the polling place celebrate rather than calling them on it. All that is necessary in each case is for individuals to choose not to follow the law, to choose to be dishonest because doing so supports their cause.

Likewise, the news media doesn’t have to be colluding or conspiring with anyone; all that is needed is an editorial staff willing to ignore stories that threaten to invalidate the election of their favored candidate. All that is needed is for those in charge of these networks to be more invested in seeing their ‘cause’ triumph than in telling the public the truth. And we already know that this is the case and has been for a long time.

There are safeguards in place to prevent all this sort of thing, but if the people in charge of them also decide to put ‘winning’ ahead of honesty then those safeguards will break down completely. Because, again, every single one of those safeguards depends upon someone – some person – actually choosing to do the right thing.

Fixing the People Behind the System

Hence, the forgotten man; the neglected fact that all these structures we hoped would guard us from the rule of fallen man can only be operated and enforced by men. Behind every human structure, behind every technology, every law, every regulation, practice, tradition, and safeguard, you only ever find a human face. And that human person can choose to be honest or dishonest, to follow the law or to skirt it for his own ends. No law or regulation can ever prevent that. It all depends on what he believes and what sort of person he is.

Which means, in the end, that the only thing that really matters is what sort of people our society is producing. Do we promote self-control and personal integrity? Do our laws foster a stable home life? Are our schools structured to teach self-reliance and rational thought? Does our entertainment encourage moral, civic, and religious values? Are religious organizations supported? Are honesty, courtesy, and respect socially expected of people?

Neglect these things, or even deliberately subvert them, and all the political measures and social reforms in the world will not save you from the consequences.

That is the lesson of 2020.

Photo Credit: News Break