Marie Antoinette for Supreme Court?

Condescending attitude a plus

As the country prepares for Justice Breyer’s pending resignation, I don’t think that Democrats are worried that whatever liberal/Leftist is nominated will, if confirmed, become more conservative after spending time on the Supreme Court. They don’t worry about that because it doesn’t happen.

Conservatives, on the other hand, justifiably fret that Justices and politicians will move left. Why does this evolution flow only in one direction? I’d like to suggest a reason.

Justices and politicians, like tenured professors and media stars cease to live in the world of reality. President George H.W. Bush was widely mocked for marveling at a supermarket barcode scanner, and President Obama was ridiculed for suggesting that poor people should buy kale at Whole Foods to improve their nutrition. Marie Antoinette apocryphally lost her head for suggesting “let them eat cake” when told that the peasants were starving for lack of bread. Yet, their ignorance was understandable. Do senators and presidents actually do their own marketing? Do community organizers ever live on the budget of those they claim to assist? Did the royal family in France ever go to bed hungry?

The old adage is true that a conservative is a liberal mugged by reality. The ruling class usually moves in the opposite direction. If they started out as conservative they are seduced by an increasing detachment from reality. When you have been a Senator for decades, you may reminisce about your father, the machinist, but you have no idea what his actual counterpart’s struggles are today. What you do have are scores of toadies telling you how brilliant you are as well as legislation, insurance and cocooning that separate you from those you were elected to represent. The social pressure in D.C. to betray conservatism is overwhelming.

At a charity banquet, I once sat next to a budding businessman in his late twenties. He lamented how his principles, loving heart and desire to be a good person made him vote to increase the minimum wage, but his business’ balance sheet showed him that doing so would mean he would need to fire his newest employees. Reality insists that any employee must bring in more to the business than he or she is paid. Supreme Court Justices do not worry about affording to pay the Court’s cleaning crew. Lavish congressional pensions do not disappear when businesses across the country go bankrupt.

After serving in the Senate and unsuccessfully running for president, George McGovern went on the lecture circuit—one of the perks of being in politics just like becoming a lobbyist. He then re-entered the world of reality by opening a New England inn. Four years later, the inn went bankrupt and its proprietor issued a mea culpa for all the regulations and taxes that he had imposed on businesses as a legislator. Reality mugged him.

One of the many reasons I admire Justice Clarence Thomas is that he and his wife enjoy vacationing in their RV, sometimes spending evenings in Walmart parking lots. If doing so, or working as a supermarket checker, or teaching in inner city schools was regularly required of all officeholders, conservative would have less to fear as their supposed representatives would, just occasionally, be brought back to live in the real world. Conservative principles just do match reality more accurately than utopian dreams do.


What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on this Susan’s Musing article.
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