In 1789, the French people were hurting; crops were failing, unemployment was high, people were starving, and King Louis XVI was torturing and murdering his political opponents in the Bastille. So, when the queen, Marie Antionette was told that the people were starving because they had no bread, she dismissively replied, “let them eat cake.” The people became so outraged, they revolted against the monarchy. A lawyer named Maximilien Robespierre who coined the phrase, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité”, led the revolt against the King. Robespierre advocated for the King’s execution, even though he had been an outspoken opponent of capital punishment. After the King was beheaded, Robespierre was put in charge of the Committee of Public Safety, and he proceeded to orchestrate “The Reign of Terror”, which killed over 17,000 citizens in one year, mostly his political opponents.
Like the pigs in Animal Farm, revolutionaries tend to become the very thing that they revolted against. In 1917 Russia, the Bolsheviks overthrew the Czars in the name of the workers and the peasants who were being abused and exploited by the Czars. But once they got their hands on power, the communists murdered millions of peasants and workers, acting more like the Czars, then the Czars ever did.
After the Rwandan people won their independence from Belgian rule in 1960, freeing themselves from the racist segregationist system which separated them into the “Tutsis” and the “Hutus”, the Rwandan government used the very same segregationist system as grounds to commit genocide, killing over 800,000 of the “Tutsis”.
In 1993, after a 45-year fight, South Africa finally freed itself from the apartheid government that denied equal rights to many of its citizens based on skin color. Today, the South African government run by the people who had been oppressed by apartheid, have implemented a system that empowers the government to seize the private property of white people, and deny them basic rights, like owning land in the country due to their skin color. The people who suffered under and defeated apartheid resurrected another form of apartheid with themselves as the beneficiaries.
In the United States of America, the so-called “anti-racists” are promoting and teaching of Critical Race Theory which judges and separates people based solely on their race, and not by their actions, their decisions, or their character. One of the earliest and biggest proponents of this ideology was a Harvard educated lawyer from Chicago named Barack Obama.
Obama burst into the political spotlight in the early 2000’s as someone who was fighting for the little guy, the guy that had been overlooked or underserved, taking on the rich and the wealthy who exploit the average Americans for their own selfish gain. He rode in on the wave of class warfare, pitting the rich against the poor, painting wealthy people as selfish and greedy, telling them, “at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” He referred to the rich as “fat cats” and accused the “billionaires and millionaires of not paying their fair share" of taxes. Obama praised Occupy Wall Street in 2011, saying, “Their dedication is a model of what it will take to transform America.” He called these rioters, “admirable” and “refreshingly innovative” as they destroyed much of lower Manhattan in the name of the little guy.
Today, many years later, this former President who supposedly fought so hard for the under-privileged is building his library, but it is not just any Presidential library, he is constructing an opulent “Presidential Center” that dwarfs all other Presidential libraries, a lavish monument to himself. He is building it inside Chicago’s prestigious Jackson Park which is in neither an ethnically or economically diverse neighborhood. Obama prefers the Park Avenue address of Jackson Park, choosing to use his library to showcase his prestige and vanity rather than to possible re-invigorate an economically challenged neighborhood in Chicago. Obama has become everything he fought against. Much of the rhetoric he used to impugn others in the past can easily be turned on himself.
Last weekend, Obama threw himself a three-day, 400+ guest birthday party at his $12 million estate in Martha’s Vineyards, one of the most exclusive towns in America. As the United Nations warned of the need to fight climate change, and Barack Obama’s political party was pushing a multi-trillion dollar Green New Deal through congress, the rich and the famous, many of who are climate activists themselves, jetted in from all over the world in their private planes, creating in that one flight a bigger carbon footprint than most families produce in a year.
As Obama’s former Vice President is contemplating renewing mask mandates and lockdowns, instituting vaccines passports on the average citizen, Obama partied up with hundreds of famous and wealthy guests for three straight days, indoors and mask-less. Yet Dr. Fauci, who has been advocating Kindergarteners wear masks, refused to call out Obama Covid-reckless party. The same rules do not apply to the powerful, the wealthy, that apply to everyone else.
How many of Obama’s party guests were poor or middle-class people? How many were average or underserved citizens he gained power fighting for? Couldn’t the millions he spent celebrating his own birth been better used in one of the poor neighborhoods that voted overwhelmingly for him? Or did he simply have the leftover birthday cake shipped to those neighborhoods? Obama has become the “fat cat”, the “one-percenter”, the very person he told us to revile over a decade ago.
Everyone is corruptible, no one is immune from corruption. No one can escape our shared humanity. It’s not simply these people are hypocrites, it’s just that money, power, and fame are so corrupting that few can escape being seduced by their trappings. So, if betraying the cause helps maintain their power, they will do it without a thought. To them, this is not a simple case of hypocrisy because the concept of hypocrisy does not apply to them, the elite, the anointed. Hypocrisy is for the mundane. There’s a sense that because they’re fighting for the just and moral cause, they are somehow special, separate from the rest of us, and the normal rules do not apply to them. They have embraced the exact mindset that the people they had been fighting against assume which led them to become what they fought against in the first place.
Andrew Cuomo resignation as Governor of New York yesterday underscores the fact that our political leaders are people, fellow human beings, no better, and oftentimes much worse than you and I. They are not kings or monarchs. They should not be worshipped the way many adore Obama; calling him, “the Black Messiah”, as many of his staff did. That type of underserved adulation only serves to corrupt the heart, mind and soul of the one being revered. Cuomo’s fame, power, and undue praise he received because he was on the just political side, made him feel that the rules did not apply to him, that he could do whatever he wanted, and that’s why he ended up where he is.
This why it never really bothers me when statues of people are taken down. The people represented in these statues were not Gods or deities to be worshipped. They were people, who in the whole scope of things were no better than anyone of us. We should never elevate another human being above ourselves. Sycophantry is poisonous. So, I don’t get upset over the statues that were taken down, but the ones that remain.
When we start treating our political leaders not as Gods or superior beings, but as what they are, people, like the rest of us, we will be much less likely to grant them the power they have. Think about the people who have control over our lives; Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, AOC, Mitch McConnell, Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Liz Cheney. That is not a murderer’s row of intellectualism or high character. I would not lend any of them $50, nor allow them in my house. Yet, they have more say over our lives than even we do. We must reframe these people back to who and what they are.
That was the greatness of our founders. Once they defeated King George, they did not set up a monarchy with one of their own on the throne, simply taking the King’s place. They created a Constitutional Republic guaranteeing civil rights to citizens, and restricting the power of the government. Our founders purposely chose not to become what they revolted against, yet slowly but surely, those who came after them have been pulling this country back to what the founders overthrew, choosing to emulate the wrong George, King not Washington.
Judd Garrett is a graduate from Princeton University, and a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.