Dan Popp
Good tyranny
By Dan Popp
November 21, 2016

Is it consistent with democracy to institute the most meddlesome, all-encompassing and restrictive government, provided that it be publicly chosen and that it act in the name of the people? Would the result not be tyranny, under the guise of legitimate government...? – Alexis de Tocqueville

It's human nature to defend one's choices. The reluctant-Trumpers have begun to shift from their "not as awful as Hillary" rationale – complete with Russian roulette metaphor – to a positive affirmation of their chosen king.

He's the "new Reagan," we hear from some. The "new Cyrus." And just now, "the new Washington." Criminently! as my mother would say. Washington was a devout Christian and a war hero. And he felt himself honor-bound to obey the Constitution.

It seems to me that, if Trump is the "new" anyone, he's the new Obama, ignoring the Constitution in order to do the "good things" he wants done. You've heard, I'm sure, that after his meeting with the outgoing king, Trump seemed to moderate his position on the unconstitutional train wreck known as Obamacare. Well of course he wants to keep the "good parts," many tell me.

Excuse me? The "good parts" of lawlessness? The "good parts" of Marxist nonsense? The "good parts" of the state playing God?

Once again we run into the fact that most people don't understand the word, "good."

A good person is not "good" in the same way as a good sandwich. What you call a good sandwich may not be my idea of a good sandwich at all, especially if it contains mayonnaise. A good person is morally good – upright, not bent and twisted in his soul. Theologically, no one is good. But when we talk about a person's conduct in society, I think it's useful to distinguish "good" citizens from "bad."

If no one is good in the vertical dimension, what do we mean by saying that our neighbor is a "good man?" First and foremost, he's a law-abiding citizen – someone who will not rampage through the community seeking his own desires at others' expense. Maybe he is also helpful, charitable, friendly, etc., but unless he constrains himself to the rules of the community, no "good works" will make him a "good man."

We're back to the familiar construct that there is either an absolute, external reference for moral good (God's law), or there is no difference between a good man and good sandwich – "good" is just a propaganda word for "what I prefer." These two constructs of "good" cannot coexist. If one man thinks that whatever he desires is good, he'll become an enemy of the community, which is a group of people pursuing the real kind of good – the good of conforming to moral rules.

Now back to Donald Trump and the "good" parts of Obamacare. Obviously the government has no authority to pretend to insure people, or to force insurance companies to pretend to insure people (or, for that matter, to actually insure people). The bent jurists on the Supreme Court refused to hold the rest of the government within lawful bounds, so badness, wickedness issued from all three branches.

Saying that you want to "keep the 'good' parts" of the ACA is like saying that you want to force other people to eat sandwiches with lots of mayonnaise. Your word "good" pretends to signify a moral good, but it's just your personal desire. Forcing your mere desires on other people is not "good," it's bad.

The same could be said about Mr. Trump's ideas about federal student loans, gigantic federal "infrastructure" programs, or appointing someone who really should know better as the federal Secretary of Education. All unconstitutional, all unfeasible, all lawless uses of force against the righteous.

That's bad. Much worse than bad, it's bad pretending to be "good."

And until We the People learn good from bad, we will continue to elevate tyrants over us and call their unjust uses of power, "good."
    Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters. – Daniel Webster
© Dan Popp


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