The next election cycle is under way, if it ever paused.
After the Republican election sweep last fall a reporter asked Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donahue, who spent over $100 million on GOP candidates in 2010, if he was done campaigning. He laughed and said "we've just begun."
Karl Rove indicated he too would continue fundraising to oppose Democrats of all stripes with money obtained by his tax-exempt "think tank," Crossroads America.
Money, influence and power aren't the only things the tea party and new Republicans have in common. Almost all of them cite the Constitution and the Founding Fathers as their guide and inspiration. Freedom, liberty and patriotism are their watchwords while they expand and preserve their wealth.
Regrettably, the Founders aren't here to comment on these events. If they were they would be disappointed but not completely surprised. One of their biggest fears was that special interests, or as Washington called them, "factions and parties," would gain influence over the government. He watched such movements grow within the individual states and came to favor a strong federal government. He argued with his nephew Bushrod Washington (in letters) over the merit of "patriotic societies." He saw them as a threat to the Republic and "the common good."
Madison, who wrote the Constitution and many of the Federalist Papers also dreaded the threat of interest groups and the undue power of excessive wealth. Jefferson called the wealthy a "natural aristocracy" and believed they would govern the new nation. John Adams thought likewise but was enough of a pragmatist to recognize that an "artificial aristocracy" of wealthy individuals might work only in its own interest and government should be prepared to deal with them.
The Founders weren't socialists. They weren't even egalitarians. They recognized that there would be economic inequality and that some would become wealthier than others (Washington referred to them as the "betters"). The Founders were wealthy themselves and favored the point of view that this elite group was most fit to govern the new nation. Why? Because they believed only the wealthy would rise above self interest and govern objectively for the common good.
The Founders assumed that the "Betters" were virtuous enough to govern with honor and objectivity but also created a government with checks and balances to protect society from self-interested "factions or parties." They would be shocked to see the power and influence of the new elite. The unelected exert an enormous influence on government using Republican office holders as a conduit and more than a few Democrats have been eager to aid them.
There have been good examples of the "betters" Washington envisioned in government. Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and John Kennedy are a few who overlooked their self interest in expanding their wealth and chose to honor the virtues of the Founders. Teddy Roosevelt was noted for his opposition to self interest in government. He said "the supreme political task of our day ... is to drive the special interest out of our public life."
The Founders would have been proud of him. The Founders would churn in their revered tombs if they could see what the new elite is doing in the 21st century.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.