Thursday, September 29, 2016

Why We Get Deplorable Candidates

"What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded--sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows. We will go foward. FORWARD is the great password."
--Ernst Janning (Judgment at Nuremberg)

Jacob Hornberger reminds us that having nothing but 'deplorable' candidates run for top political office is no accident in a democratic state where authoritarianism is on the rise. The people (voters) create a system that values deplorables in office.

JH cites the work of Hayek, who discussed this phenomenon in his seminal The Road to Serfdom. In the book, Chapter 10 was entitled 'Why The Worst Get On Top.' Hayek refutes the argument that there can be a 'good' totalitarian regime with a benevolent dictator. Moreover, people who think that they are just one good leader away from filling a totalitarian seat in a benevolent manner are delusional.

Because authoritarian regimes require, by definition, force to enact, they attract people who are willing to employ aggression to accomplish state, and by extension personal, objectives. Those with high moral and ethical standards naturally find such conditions repulsive.

As Hayek observes:

"Yet while there is little that is likely to induce men who are good by our standards to aspire to leading positions in the totalitarian machine, and much to deter them, there will be special opportunities for the ruthless and unscrupulous. There will be jobs to be done about the badness of which taken by themselves nobody has any doubt, but which have to be done in the service of some higher end, and which have to be executed with the same expertness and efficiency as others. And as there will be need for actions which are bad in themselves, and which all those still influenced by traditional morals will be reluctant to perform, the readiness to do bad things becomes a path to promotion and power. [emphasis mine] The positions in a totalitarian society in which it is necessary to practice cruelty and intimidation, deliberate deception and spying, are numerous."

Per Hayek, "the readiness to do bad things" as a "path to promotion and power" aptly describes the primary job qualification that we have institutionalized for senior political positions.

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