It sounds so reasonable at first: why won’t the government just change? Would it be that hard for it to stop stealing from people to support its expensive habits and for-the-cameras philanthropy, to stop giving aid and comfort to the world’s torturers, butchering and crippling innocent people, dressing up repulsive lies in pretty clothes, and giving the word “liberty” a bad name from abuse?
But the answer is that yes it would be that hard. It takes a lot to change a government. Don’t be fooled by the democratic trappings of the U.S. government — it’s actually easier to change a dictatorship: it only takes one bullet. To change the course of a government like the U.S. government — well, just think of all of the people you’ve got to talk to, the lobbyists you’ve got to hire, the bribes you’ve got to hand out, the door-to-door work you’ve got to do, the media events you’ve got to stage, the bills you have to watch closely as they get amended away, the lawyers you’ve got to hire to prod the bureaucrats even if you finally get the law on your side.
There’s a lot to it; and the government may not want to change — it probably likes it right where it is. It doesn’t get into the stealing and torturing and butchering business just because it lost its way somehow — there’s something in it, some advantage gained or payoff made. You’ve got to counter the devil’s offer with a better one of your own, or counter the devil’s threat with a bigger threat.
Or you could try appealing to conscience, I suppose. I know there’s not much success to be found there, but it does sometimes work — and it sure makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning if you think moral persuasion still makes a difference.
But what are you going to say? “Hello, I’m here to persuade you that the government should go through what amounts to a grand moral rebirth and make whatever grand sacrifices and vast changes are needed to insure that it no longer violates our liberties, murders the innocent, and tarnishes the name of freedom, et cetera, et cetera, amen. It’s gonna require fortitude on the government’s part, and a willingness to change, and certainly it’ll have to swallow hard and forgo some of the privileges associated with might-makes-right, but that’s what it’s got to do in order to be legitimate and worthy of our respect.”
Well if you’re still paying taxes, you’re vulnerable, you know, to an answer like this: “Look, Charlie, why don’t you swallow hard and forgo some of the privileges associated with being a well-off, taxpaying citizen, and stop funding all of that nonsense yourself? It’d be easier for you to change than for the government to change, so if you’re not willing to do it, what’s all your moral clarity really worth anyway? Why, if the government paved a new road to town out of live kittens, I’d be the first to complain — but even before that, I’d choose to take a different road to get to town, even if it took me there by a longer and harder route. Step off of the kittens or shut up about their yowling!”