Heather MacDonald over at City Journal makes much of Joe Biden suspending the federal gas tax for the moment to keep fill-ups from infuriating too many voters. She tells us this is evidence that the carbon-reduction, climate-change, use-less-petrol sermonising over the years is not as important to Democrats as they claim, and a prime example of hypocrisy. That is not untrue, but it is very typical of politicians in general. They convince themselves that being elected is good for the country - so good, in fact, that temporary losses on this goal or that are unimportant. They will find a way to fix it later. They are quite sure that they and their party (or even their wing of the party) will get back so much more if they can only remain in power, or take it. If the Other Guys win, it will clearly be a plague o'er the earth. And so a tactical loss now will be worth it in the long run.
I believe them that this all started as legitimate intentions to do good, and honest commitment to some ideals. But that was years ago, or even decades. If they came into the party when it had already made many compromises and has not had any sharp reform, the intentions may have been poisoned even as they came on board stuffing envelopes and their own corruption now may even be the descendant of the corruption of others over a century ago.
They slowly conflate what is good for their party, and even what is good for themselves personally with what is good for the whole country. The concepts become so associated in their minds that they can no longer separate them.
They still might be the better party or better candidate. Just because our guy has become dangerously narcissistic does not mean the opponent is more humble, or is wise in any way at all. But when we see it in our own we have to find ways to cut ourselves free of the narcissists as soon as possible. It cannot end well if it is allowed to continue.
With what I have written about bureaucratic decay recently, and then inability of the electorate and the parties to intervene and restrain their own, let me propose a thought experiment: we accept it as a given that presidents can be too old, and express worry that last time was bad enough with Joe, Bernie, and Donald, but this next time might be four years worse. There is an election PR reason we want our candidates to look sharp and energetic, but is there an actual advantage to a healthy, physically inspiring president? Is it still necessary? In some professions people go one quite well into advanced ages - writers, philosophers, popes and other ecclesiastical authorities. We are no longer asking them to get on a horse and lead us into battle.
But they have so much to do! They have a grueling schedule! Yet a lot of that schedule is useless stuff and photo ops anyway. But what if they die in office? Or worse, become infirm and incompetent? Compared to...? Won't that become a crisis for the republic? Well, yes, it might. But the last 30 years are now running on family members: wives, senators' sons, presidents' sons; and political lifers, so that an internationally and nationally politically well-connected real estate developer looks like a refreshing outsider, running against guys who have been in Washington since the Garfield administration. As we deteriorate, we seem unable to cut ourselves free. Such a crisis might be our only way to make a change that is even 30% of what we need. It would be a terrible thing if we have reached that point where only physical nature rescues us from our lack of resolve, but even worse if we are at that pass and cannot embrace it even now. Just a thought.