We Americans like to think of ourselves as “rugged individualists“, but in reality we are often like a “herd” that blindly follows the leader. The problem of course with blindly following a leader is that if the leader happens to be a “lemming” we will all be led over the cliff.
One of the lessons I learned as a Park Ranger about directing traffic at the San Diego Wild Animal Park was that if you got a car to go in the right direction all of those behind that lead car would follow. Sadly, the same thing was true if the car went in the wrong direction! The cars behind followed the car as it went in the wrong direction!
German philosopher Friederich Nietzsche had a name for that—“the herd mentality“. He framed his philosophy of the ubermensch (the superman) on that premise—a strong leader could lead the masses in any direction that he desired and they would blindly follow—as the lead cow leads the herd. That premise led to a further premise that “might makes right” and that those who have the power decide what is right or wrong. Adolph Hitler adopted this philosophy and proved it to be true, to the woe of the German nation that he led into World War II and disaster for their nation.
In Congress, the majority of the Republican Party exhibit a “herd mentality” as they blindly follow their leaders. They do not consider the legislation they pass or defeat on any basis other than maintaining their power by re-election as they let the Tea Party and those who contribute to their campaign funds tell them what to do. Truth, morality, the common good, all suffer from this “herd” mentality when our law makers do not think for themselves.
This is what troubles me about politicians and their followers today, and specifically about Kansans who at present are being led into fiscal disaster by a leader and legislature that are convinced they are right, regardless of the facts, and are using their power to decide what is right and good for everyone whether it is good or not for the common welfare. And we just went through an election that proved Nietzsche correct, as Kansans blindly re-elected them to another term, even though complaining that they had lied to them and that their situation financially and economically (except for the privileged businesses who received the tax breaks) was worse than when these politicians began their previous term. Many Republican voters have confessed they voted Republican because that is the way they always have voted and regret that they elected these folk now. But they are all in the same boat now—“lemmings ” following their leaders over the financial cliff for the benefit of an elimination of income taxes for around 100,000 “small businesses”, and are paying the price in reduced education funds, reduced programs for the most vulnerable of our state—the homeless, the children, the elderly. Even Kansas roads are going to be full of potholes as the governor shifts funds to pay for an “experiment” in economics that has proven to be as unproductive and disastrious as most economists initially predicted it would be.
Recently I saw a poster on Face Book that speaks to this: “Be careful when you blindly follow the masses. Sometimes the “M” is silent!