Ross offers this depressing, but accurate, statement on the pathetic state of our government:
But in a sense, to ask the question is to answer it: If you’re young and charismatic and interested in politics, the rewards to staying within the mainstream political consensus are so high, and so readily apparent, as to be near-irresistible. If Ron Paul looked and sounded like Bill Clinton, he probably never would have become a constitutionalist in the first place.
Whether Ross intended to or not, he has just stated in a single paragraph the principal reasons why mass democracy is the enemy of both good and lawful government. It creates a kind of politics that makes austere constitutional republicanism seem absurd, because such a view assumes that the welfare of the commonwealth and the preservation of liberty are sufficiently admirable and worth supporting that they do not need a demagogic spokesman (and I mean to use demagogic here in the least pejorative way). But most voters really like demagogic spokesmen, and in the modern age they much prefer the telegenic and oleaginous to the severe, earnest, if sometimes eccentric, people who have infinitely more in common with most Americans.
The reason why principled constitutionalism gains so little electoral traction is that it proposes to curtail and distribute power. Few rising stars in the political firmament want to ally themselves with a cause that, if successful, will actually decrease their power in the future. Curtailing and dispersing power displease any number of factions that much prefer jockeying for influence over a consolidated, concentrated center of power. Constitutionalism offers citizens no spoils, except a liberty and independence they typically would rather abandon if it meant greater convenience or benefits. It is a sorry statement about Americans that strict adherence to our fundamental law has become popularly identified as a “fringe” and “eccentric” position.