“Stupid” is a word one must use with great caution when characterizing political speech. Comments may be ill-advised, naïve or uninformed, but rarely do they sink to such a depth of dimness as to be properly labeled “stupid.” In recently publicized footage from an April debate, a North Carolina Republican candidate for Congress, Sate Sen. David Rouzer, made remarks that might just qualify him for the dubious distinction.
While we can all probably agree that government could work better, Rouzer has shown himself to be a baby-with-the-bath-water kind of guy. During the April debate, Rouzer advocated closing the Department of Energy because he saw officials there reading books. His scathing diatribe wasn’t limited to the DoE. The Departments of Commerce, Education and Housing and Urban Development were similarly vilified.
As he stated, “When I served in the executive branch for about a year and a half, and I learned how the bureaucrats operate, it gives me a lot of insight into how to defund them and get rid of them. When I went over to the Department of Energy one day, you walk down the hall and most of them who are drawing 6-figure salaries are sitting there reading books… If you look at the decline of education it started when the federal government got involved.”
Rouzer’s plan to fix this: eliminate numerous federal agencies and turn control back over to states.
Rouzer and others like him seem to think they’re channeling Will Rogers… they can just sit back, spit, whittle and manage the affairs of state via folksy aphorisms. This is as naïve as it is dangerous.
So what if we banned reading at the Department of Energy? Would it better to have an agency run by people who didn’t keep abreast of the latest research, relevant current affairs and technology?
What if we turned education back over to the states; or better yet, what if we reversed history and kept the federal government out of education all together? We probably wouldn’t have been bothered by all that pesky “racial integration” business. We wouldn’t have to teach all that Godless science, either.
As to HUD, it’s pretty much the same thing: If poor people want to live somewhere decent, then their leaky roofs, vermin and crime-ridden neighborhoods should motivate them to get off their rear-ends, shouldn’t it? After all, their poverty is exclusively their own fault.
Rouzer’s main problem — one he shares with many in the anti-intellectual movement — is that he operates from insecurity. Deep down, he has to know he is ignorant of many things and that others know more and have a better command of empirical facts. Woe be unto him if those pointy-headed fact-holders are able to kick the feet out from under his wobbly demagogic stool… that he’ll actually have to come up with real reasons for the positions he takes; and that those reasons will have to be something greater than defending the special interests for whom he carries the water.
Lastly, he also has to know that a nation governed by a unified vision of progress might march right past his antiquated, provincial notions of society and governance. And perhaps he’s afraid you’ll read something and have the temerity — and the evidence — necessary to disagree. If the American ideal is anything at all, it is the antithesis of that.