Last week, a special inquiry into the Oakland, California Police Department’s operating procedures concluded that they had been grossly inappropriate, especially in their dealings with citizen protesters. So, the casual observer might expect that a chastened OPD would react to a sense of guilt with restraint and institute some reforms. That’s not, however, how guilt often works. What happens more often is that individuals and corporations “double down” or do it again, as if to prove there was no wrong in the first place. I think that’s an example of the deadly sin of pride–obviously self-defeating.
The core question of the 21st century is whether the people or their designated agents are in charge.
Conservative ideology holds that elections are merely a mechanism by which the people select their tyrants for a series of rotating dictatorships. Democracy holds that the people rule and their agents are public servants with obligations and mandates that are strictly defined and not be exceeded.
The fact that elected officials have traditionally behaved as masters rather than servants does not mean that this pattern of behavior should persist. Indeed, we’ve been engaged in a four decade long effort to reverse the notion that public officials are rulers, rather than servants. Now it’s gotten critical, mostly because the atomization of American society, on which arbitrary rule relied, has faltered in the face of electronic connectivity. Even if people are sitting at home in front of their computers, they’re connected inter-actively with the outside world. Isolation has been banished and the world will never be the same.
The irony is that conservatives long to be connected, but they don’t know how. I think there’s some psychological impediment keeping them in a state of isolation and which, for them, comes to represent the norm. Their vaulted independence is but an effort to make virtue out of vice.
FOLLOW UP ACTION ON THE 28th as seen from overhead.