“The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United. Enough of the emails! Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.”
—Bernie Sanders to CNN moderator Anderson Cooper on Hillary Clinton’s email scandal in Tuesday’s Democratic Debate
Take a moment to ponder that statement uttered from the summit of hypocrisy.
After all, by declaring “enough of the emails,” Sen. Sanders is actually defending a core facet of oligarchies. As Merriam-Webster helpfully explains, an oligarchy is “a government by the few; a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.”
Now call me a crazy conservative, but I’d posit that a clandestine email server belonging to one of the most senior officers in the world’s most powerful government, who has links to significant financial interests, raises at least a basic concern about oligarchical behavior.
The purpose of a business is to make a profit for the self and marketing is also done with the same interest. That is why we use phrases like a typical businessman, business tactics, business-oriented etc. If CyberMentors worked for its creators only and not for the depending traders, it is again oligarchy. The purpose of oligarchical behavior in government may be the same but that is not the goal for which the system of government was built.
But don’t take my word on it, just ask Aristotle. As the philosopher argued in The Politics, “above all every state should be so administered and so regulated by law that its magistrates cannot possibly make money. In oligarchies special precautions should be used against this evil.” Of course, while Aristotle was speaking of a different period, his key point — that “special precautions” should be taken against potential misconduct in public office — stands relevant to Hillary Clinton’s emails. Indeed, as former NSA counter-intelligence officer, John Schindler has reported on numerous occasions, what we know about Clinton’s email server makes it a major issue of public interest. And knowing what we already know, every American should support continued investigations into that conduct.
By declaring “enough of the emails,” Sen. Sanders is actually defending a core facet of oligarchies
Still, what makes Sanders’ comments even more ludicrous is that he bound them up with a rant against the U.S. Supreme Court’s widely misunderstood decision in Citizens United v. FEC. As I’ve explained, though some fail to grasp the logic of that decision, it is integral to American free speech. Again, don’t take my word for it. Instead, read Justice Kennedy’s examples of speech that a ruling against Citizens United would have restricted:
The Sierra Club runs an ad, within the crucial phase of 60 days before the general election, that exhorts the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests; the National Rifle Association publishes a book urging the public to vote for the challenger because the incumbent U. S. Senator supports a handgun ban; and the American Civil Liberties Union creates a Web site telling the public to vote for a Presidential candidate in light of that candidate’s defense of free speech. These prohibitions are classic examples of censorship.
Now think on the conclusive absurdity of Sanders’ statement. In the space of 34 words, Sanders claimed to stand against oligarchy… while simultaneously complaining that a movie criticizing a major 2008 presidential candidate (Hillary Clinton) should have been banned, and that a top government official’s email server (Clinton’s) does not warrant scrutiny by a free press. It’s worthy of a Monty Python sketch.
Nevertheless, the standing ovation Sanders received for those 34 words also tells us something. American liberalism has become burdened by immense intellectual arrogance. The cheers and applause signified that key tenets of American governance — the proper handling of classified material and public record keeping under law, and public attention to power — no longer matters for many Democrats.
But it’s worse than that. Consider that while Sanders won plaudits for his socialist platitudes and progressive pardoning of Clinton, former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb — a true hero (read his Navy Cross citation) — was received by the audience with sparse claps and thinly veiled disdain. Why? Because he challenged his party with that crucial virtue of democracy — introspection.
Put all this together and you have a political dichotomy that’s both intellectually pathetic and morally putrid.
Tom Rogan is a contributor for Opportunity Lives and writes for National Review. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TomRtweets.