Ever since I recovered from a serious bout of Covid-pneumonia, I have endeavored to take better care of myself. Thus, at least once a week I try to head out for “God’s country” for a bike ride to stay active and to decompress from the week. My bike rides are also the time I use to catch up on my “reading” or keep up with the news by listening to audiobooks or podcasts. However, on my latest ride I felt like I needed a break from all of the political jibber-jabber about the latest political scandal or inquiry where the rule of law or “our democracy” was once again on the line, so I just listened to some music instead.
Recently a song called “Rich Men North of Richmond” went viral and became a number one hit, and being curious about it I learned about the story of its artist behind the song. So I downloaded his other songs and spent my ride listening to them. Anthony, whose real name is Christopher Lunsford, sings about everything from recovering from addiction, to creating our own Hell in this life, to how hard it was turning to God in order to get his life together (being an “old soul”) while “living in a new world” that has no room for God, grace, or gratitude. While his style of music is not really my taste, it is clear that his lyrics are the proverbial “voice crying out” in his own 90 acres of wilderness in rural Virginia, as he laments about the spiritual ennui that has engulfed our culture.
Yet it is still “Rich Men North of Richmond” that resonates the most with me, especially the line about those “men” who, “just wanna have total control, wanna know what you think, wanna know what you do.” To me these words speak to a truism about the current state of politics in America that most of have known for a long time. Especially among those who have been “red-pilled” (ever since the term came into the common parlance more than two decades ago) to the efforts of the Left to establish Orwellian-type “thought crimes” by trying to control the way we speak and think.
However, it wasn’t until the the 2016 election of Donald Trump that some of those very same people (and others), the ones who had seen Trump as the first real chance for change in a generation, became “black-pilled.” They realized that much of the Conservative or Republican establishment they had long supported were unable or (worse still) unwilling to offer any real solutions to the problems affecting this country’s “old” and “deplorable” souls. Today, whether it is out of control government spending, our open border and outright human (immigrant) trafficking by the Feds, or being shamed into supporting Ukraine in a way that our leaders have to know will eventually draw our sons and daughters into another foreign war, the “Rich men north of Richmond” do in fact “wanna have total control” as recent events have clearly demonstrated.
A Capital Full of Unserious Souls
This last week provided several examples of our nation's leaders trying to grasp for "total control" while losing hold of it at the same time.
1. New Jersey Democratic senator Bob Menendez and his wife were charged with taking bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, and luxury cars from wealthy donors. We are told that this is proof that the Biden’s DOJ is not biased. However, considering how Merrick Garland has handled a disproportional amount of other cases involving people at odds with the Biden administration, no one is really buying this. As commentator and social media personality Vince Dao recently quipped, “at this point the system is so corrupt...(so)the minute I see them go after someone, my first instance isn’t, ok what did they do, in terms of the crime, it’s why are they going after them?”
2. The recent salacious shenanigans of Lauren Boebert and her date getting thrown out of a musical. Considering how numb our society has become to such prurience, from people on all sides of the aisle, her actions were not all that shocking. What was though, was her non-apology apology that has become the norm with politicians whose every word is carefully crafted by a staff of marketers and legal experts to say as much of nothing as possible. Someone asked me if I thought these apologies were A.I. generated, and I said no because if that were the case, by the law of averages, some of these responses would in fact be “intelligent.”
3. Donald Trump’s interview with Christine Welker where he called Florida’s six-week ban on abortion a “terrible thing and a terrible mistake.” To be fair, this is simply more of his trademark power-posturing when he pits himself against someone (DeDantis in this case). Furthermore I fully realize that negotiating the cutoff line of when human life is worth protecting is an abhorrent reality of our dysfunctional republic. Nonetheless, this is not the way pro-life people want the person they thought was their ally, to be talking about the value of human life.
4. Trump did, however, get one thing right during that same interview, and that was Nancy Pelosi’s role on January 6th. We now know from the testimony of former Capital Hill Police chief Steven Sund, that it was in fact Pelosi’s job to handle security, and that he spoke with her three times about improving security for that day. Pelosi declined to do so, and lied about her communications with Sund to protect her party and the carefully crafted narrative the Democrats have spent a colossal amount of time and money to create and maintain. Of course, we know that nothing will happen to her.
5. The Senate hearings of Merrick Garland, which turned into a regular “hit”show (in this instance the “s” at the front of the word is silent). Despite Garland basically being caught perjuring himself about the number of federal informants on January 6th, viewers still had to sit through a litany of accusations or adulations concerning everything from Ray Epps, access to abortion, the catching El Chapo’s son, to the safety of “black and brown” people in Georgia. The problem with the hearings was that nothing, I repeat, nothing was said that was or is not already known or that could not have been predicted to be said. In short, nothing will come of this, and certainly nothing will happen to Garland.
6. Lastly, but especially not least, was Majority Leader Chuck Schumer telling the Senate sergeant at arms to no longer enforce the dress code, because of Senator John Fetterman. While I am not someone who thinks the way one dresses makes them more than they are, but it is at least an indicator of the level of respect one has for their job or position. It just seems exceedingly risible that the same people who blathered on about the integrity of “our democracy” or “these hallowed halls” when it came to January 6th, don’t give one serious scat of concern when Fetterman shows up in shorts and a hoodie.
The Two Iron Laws
Around the turn of the last century there was a one hit wonder by Baz Luhrmann that was a litany of inspirational bromides. One of which was about accepting certain “inalienable truths” such as that when you get older, “you'll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.” Well, to me Fetterman’s dressing like a shlub was the synecdoche of all the other aforementioned incidents in that it indicates how America is rapidly approaching its nadir. The fantasy is over, and we must now deal with the reality that we are a nation who elects unserious people to tackle serious problems, and then complain that they don’t take their jobs seriously. Maybe there was a time when we thought our nation was ruled better than it is today. Or maybe that was just part of the fantasy, something we sing about in pop songs or watch in Hillsdale College video shorts to prop up our beliefs that we are free and that our votes really do matter (let alone are counted).
What we are seeing is what the Everyman’s own Colby Anderson once called “the Left’s Kabuki theater” whereby our leaders engage in a sort of “theatrical representation” of their values using tried and true “archetypical roles.” However, the values and archetypes they are acting out, are not always coming across to Americans the way they think it is. As Anthony himself says in his song, “they don’t think that you know, but I know that you do.” What is increasingly coming through are two iron laws that we are probably familiar with, even if we don’t know their names.
The first is science fiction writer Jerry Pournelle’s “Iron Law of Bureaucracy" which states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two types of people. The first “will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization” and who are the pioneers and innovators. The second group are those who are “dedicated to the organization itself,” such as the administrators and their staff who keep the organization running. Pournelle’s Iron Law states that “in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.”
What we are witnessing in D.C. and with so many of our other public institutions is the absolute reign of that second group of people. Nothing gets done because our leaders our too busy continuously fixing, maintaining, and tweaking the political machine they have created, rather than using it for its intended purpose. Sadly, it is another one of our fondly held fantasies that if only “our side” can just lay hold of the "one ring" and control of all three branches of government, then things would get done. But I have voted in enough elections to know that more often than not, even when that happens that party is still unwilling or incapable (as in the case of people like AOC) of wielding power effectively.
This leads to the other iron law that is being played out “north of Richmond” and which I will just call the “Iron Law of Princes.” It is right out of Scripture in Psalm 146, “Put not your faith in princes, in the children of men, in whom there is no help.” This is a rule that obviously has a long pedigree, and has stood the test of time. Not to mention, a law our Founding Fathers had in mind when they created the checks and balances in our Constitution to prevent the kind of power-posturing that contemporary politics has become obsessed with.
As the 2024 presidential election grows near and yet another...(sorry for the break, I was yawning)...calamitous government shutdown is even nearer, I have no idea what will happen next except that is will not be neat or orderly, let alone tolerated. So I will acknowledge Pournelle's Iron Law but stick to the Iron Law of Princes. And interestingly enough, Oliver Anthony himself seems to recognize this truth, with his music and some comments he once made. At one perfromance, before he sang he read out of the Bible from Psalm 37, “The wicked plots against the righteous, and gnashes his teeth at him; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming...The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their heritage will abide forever; they are not put to shame in evil times, in the days of famine they have abundance.”
Thus no matter what happens, always trust in the Lord and in your own ability to live your life as you should, for your own sake and for that of your family and community. But also seek to uplift and support others to do the same and to be strong of heart and faith, for as that same Psalm says “The Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his saints.”
Photo Credit- cnn. com