Perspective

Leveraged Buyout

"Every nation has the government it deserves." Joseph de Maistre's hard saying can give small comfort to Americans. Oh, it is true, we have a paper Constitution that promises a republican form of government, but all three branches of that government have for several generations conspired to evacuate the republican content from the system, leaving only a decorative and ceremonial shell of elections without issues, ghost-written speeches, and congressmen haranguing an empty chamber for the benefit of C-Span cameramen. The United States is a republic in the same sense that Great Britain is a monarchy. In theory, the Queen might declare a dissolution and summon new ministers more to her liking, but the attempt would bring her unfortified palace down around Her Majesty's ears. Over here, it is the people who reign without ruling.

Whatever our form of government might be in principle, the real American system has little in common with the republic of our not-so-distant ancestors. If there is any doubt of this, we have only to consider the apparently inverse relationship between the quality of leadership and the quantity of power. In the beginning we elected Washington, Adams, and Jefferson but refused to grant them even a fraction of the power we cheerfully surrender to Jimmy Carter and George Bush.

It is not so much the form of government that defines a nation as the character of its governors. The Leaders...

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