In Federalist 70, Alexander Hamilton, not exactly reticent in his support for a powerful, proactive president, wrote, “The ingredients which constitute energy in the executive are unity; duration; an adequate provision for its support; and competent powers. The ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense are a due dependence on the people, and a due responsibility.”
This latter understanding is clearly missing from the Clinton campaign’s ideology, as Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate made alarmingly clear.
Asked to justify his fitness to step into the roll of commander of chief should circumstances necessitate it, Tim Kaine, former governor of Virginia and current Senator for the same state, parroted back his candidate’s campaign slogan of “Stronger Together.”
According to him, success under a Clinton administration would be defined not on whether effective legislation that solves problems within the framework of delegated power can be passed but on “whether we can make someone’s life better.”
This kind of altruism is often spoken of approvingly as fitting to the attitude of a public servant. Yet, it goes against Hamilton’s definition of what constitutes “safe” executive power, for it sees people, not through the prisms of rights which must be upheld and respected, but as entities to be exploited for political gain.
Consider the presumptions on which such an approach to public service is built: the desire to “make something better” presumes some ill. If the standard of success is the righting of ills, then a Clinton administration has a vested interest in political suffering as a means to its own self-aggrandizement. This demonstrates the true nature of altruism, which is not a selfless desire to see others succeed, but a form of dependency, which promotes ill so that it can fix them then sit back and revel in its own beneficence.
Worse, this is a blatant admission that the Clinton administration believes it knows best, better than the individual, what conditions are most conducive towards greater success. When they speak of being “stronger together” it is not through cooperation and discourse about the merit of ideas as a basis for crafting effective policy; it is through coercing the American people to accept a vision that is “for the greater good.” Yet, debate over exactly what this means is not tolerated; this is the most condescending kind of patrimony, one which acts without respect for individual notions of self-interest. These, to the enlightened modern mind, are merely the vestiges of a bygone age of misguided close-mindedness.
It would be wise to ask exactly why Clinton and her ilk who so selflessly devote themselves to the welfare of the middle class care as much as they profess to, or why this should be a qualification for office. This is exactly the kind of conflict of interest which is seen as disqualifying in a legal framework, so why is it encouraged in those who craft the laws?
According to Kaine, the answer in Clinton’s case is to have the “most historic administration possible.” Couple this with a standard of success that measures itself in the difference it makes in the lives of Americans and you have an administration driven by a desire for a legacy that stands out like a brand upon the lives of individual citizens.
Again, clearly, this is not an attitude which respects citizens but one which must desire social ills in order to exercise its compassionate urges to personally lift up citizens.
This is what Clinton has grounded her campaign in. “Stronger Together” is not a trite catchphrase that speaks to Clinton’s qualifications as a lover of the American people; it is the problem. It demonstrates that democratic government to the Clinton camp is not about protecting individual rights but what gratuity government can gain from them.