The pursuit of an independent foreign policy by House speaker Nancy Pelosi is obviously a bad idea no matter what one’s political persuasion.
Yet the Democrats’ abrogation of powers and roles comes as no surprise to students of the modern Left. Pelosi is merely the last instance of a long evolution by the Left away from the Rule of Law and towards the rule of men.
The Rule of Law is really the Rule of Roles. The law grants decision making power in various areas to individuals fulfilling particular roles. If an individual changes roles, the scope of their decision making power changes as well. The advantages of such a system are obvious. It separates power. It enhances accountability. It makes decision makers interchangeable. It provides a clear, predefined standard for who makes what decision and when.
I think it no exaggeration to say that the Rule of Roles, more than any other cultural institution, created the prosperity and power of the western world.
Yet the Rule of Roles diminishes the status of any particular individual, and this causes those lacking essential personal or intellectual humility to attack it.
The first modern attack came from classical Marxists who viewed the Rule of Roles as perpetuating the doomed capitalist system. Classical Marxists as people believed that they alone understood how the world worked, and that they alone as a group possessed the capability to make true decisions. Everyone else merely functioned as a kind of economically programmed robot. Additionally, the concept of historical inevitability meant things would turn out the same in the end regardless of who made what decision. Short-term decisions affected only the pace of the inevitable evolution toward the communist end state.
Working from such a model, Marxists considered the idea that they, as individuals, should restrict the scope of their decisions based on a role assigned to them by law or custom, utterly ridiculous. Why should they artificially restrict themselves when only they possessed the special awareness necessary to make real decisions?
Communists and fascists took this idea and expanded it. Communists came to hold that individuals with the proper understanding of ideology developed what we today might classify as a mystical ability to make correct decisions. As a consequence, they justified rule by an elite class or even a single individual. Fascists added the idea of subjectivity of truth, based on innate characteristics such as race or gender. In both cases they created a political model in which a small elite or individual had no limitations placed on the scope of their decision making by any role they might fill.
Ever since the 1930s the Left within the democratic West has slowly succumbed to the idea of special individuals whose unique knowledge and morality free them from the limitations imposed by roles. This tendency accelerated massively during the ’60s. Nowadays an “activist” means an individual who has hijacked the decision making power of particular role such judge, journalist or academician in order to advance their own political ideas. (Hypocritically, they demand the privileges granted to those roles while at the same time ignoring the restrictions that made those privileges safe to grant.)
The Left is gradually succumbing to the seductive idea that a better world comes from having the “right” people in power. Roles and ultimately law, merely impeded the “right” people in fulfilling their noble goals. This conceit guts the traditional American concept that no individual or group can be trusted with power and that good government and good decision making result from sharply restricting the scope of any individual’s decision making.
So Pelosi isn’t doing anything alien to her political subculture. She considers herself above any restrictions placed on her while fulfilling the role of Speaker of the House. Indeed, she would consider it immoral not to abuse her office. Her ideological peers will criticize her for not “speaking out” by using the visibility of her office to undercut the Executive’s foreign policy,
The Left never learns to take the long view. The last 50 years have shown a pattern wherein the Left creates some new rationale for increasing the power of the state and then the Right adopts the rationale a few years later. The Right warned of the dangers of racial gerrymandering in the ’70s but by the late ’80s they were its more enthusiastic practitioners. The Left forgets that the power they abrogate today will belong to their opponents tomorrow.
It will be nothing but karmacally just if a future President Pelosi must contend with a Republican Speaker of the House undercutting her foreign policy. It would not, however, be good for America and our ideals.