Good politicians keep government out of pioneers’ paths

Published 12:10 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2019

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By Jim Waters
Guest columnist

Dominick Mellusi, a Florida Gulf Coast University undergraduate, wrote recently in a Students for Liberty publication that “most famous political figures are loved too much, as well as hated too much.”

It’s reassuring to know that even in the age of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the young New York representative and self-proclaimed “Democratic socialist,” we have young people who neither worship nor deride politicians out of hand.

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They also don’t take them too seriously by assuming they’re competent just because they hold a position of authority.

Logan Albright, another young libertarian writer, references “Being There,” a film from the past in which the late Peter Sellers plays Chance, a frail gardener who ascends to the highest levels of society based simply on his ability to express random musings about trees and flowers in a manner leading those around him to interpret his ramblings as “metaphors of great wisdom.”

Albright writes that the film has comedic moments but ultimately points to a truth about how we give politicians “power over us and trust them to use it wisely, even when they’ve given us no evidence that they know how to do so” merely because they look and sound nice, and because we really want them to be “legitimate authorities.”

Not that we don’t have or need good politicians.

Rather, it’s that we need political leaders who understand their proper role and that we resist the urge to either worship or deride them, instead recognizing them for who they are – especially the Ocasio-Cortez’s of Frankfort and Washington: “simpleton gardeners who are out of their depth,” as Albright describes Chance.

If we did, he says we instead would “solve our own problems, take care of one another, and dismiss the grandiose proclamations we hear coming out of our televisions as the inconsequential ramblings of unimportant blowhards.”

Our truly great political servant-leaders lack thin skin and want it this way.

They know that while politics plays an important role, it’s not the essence of our commonwealth’s – or country’s – uniqueness or greatness.

Kentucky itself, after all, was discovered not by a political force but by pioneers dreaming of a new land with endless opportunities looking to broaden their – and their nation’s – horizons.

It was a yearning for liberty that guided Daniel Boone to lead the way in carving the Wilderness Road from Virginia while crossing the Appalachian Mountains and pushing through the Cumberland Gap to what would become Kentucky, where he found that liberty he sought.

This Independence Day would be an opportune time to realize those freedom-seeking pioneers in Kentucky’s wilderness, at Kitty Hawk or Cape Canaveral are the essence of our country’s and commonwealth’s greatness, having often thrived in spite of political elements arrayed against them.

That pioneering spirit is alive and well in our country today as individuals with dreams and talent seek to leave their mark in this generation.

This is in contrast to a simpleton pioneer with the offer of a green new deal such as Cortez, who, while she may be the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, offers some of the oldest, worst and most-dangerous ideas in today’s political marketplace.

“Socialism, like chicken pox and polio, is making a bit of a comeback after being largely vanquished and relegated to the ash heap of history,’ writes columnist and commentator John Feehery.

Politicians who understand their proper place as our liberty’s guardians rather than its grantors will be content with – and dedicate themselves to – keeping government and its forces out of the path of pioneers who explore, solve and cure.

The accolades which follow such important yet often thankless work will be hugely deserved.

Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. He can be reached at and @bipps on Twitter.