HORVAT: Broken Trust: The Cause of Angry Politics


BY: John Horvat

Everyone agrees that there is something different about today’s angry politics. The ordinary issues that have shaped the political debate for years have largely remained the same. The economy is still in bad shape, terrorism remains a top concern and the deficit is still growing as fast as ever.

The mood of the nation, however, has undergone a great shift. People are angry. They are not angry about something, but rather angry at someone.

Digging a bit deeper, one finds that, more often than not, people are venting their rage not at any particular individual, but rather a class, institution or grouping of people. Targets include incumbents, corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists, politically correct academics, clergy or just the plain “establishment”—whatever that might mean. This unfocused shotgun approach holds that we need to throw the whole lot out and start over again to effect real change.

The causes of this widespread discontent are likewise unfocused. There are authentic rational reasons for this discontent but it usually manifests itself more through feelings than facts. There is a general (and often legitimate) feeling of betrayal on the part of governing institutions that have failed to be responsive to an assortment of conflicting concerns. People sense that generally things are stagnated and not moving forward. Many more simply feel left behind.

The result in a very real divorce between the present policies shaping the nation and what the nation actually needs and wants. And like every divorce, it is very messy.

Like a broken marriage, the missing element is trust. Public confidence in major institutions has plummeted over the past four decades with Congress in the basement with a less than ten percent approval rating. The media, academia, corporations and religious groups do not fare much better. Anti-institutional candidates are all the rage and win by raging against anyone even remotely connected with “the system.”

The erosion of this public trust has been building for decades, but only now are the political implications becoming evident. The giant edifice of American society—so apparently powerful and resilient—is only as strong as the patchwork of buttresses, struts and beams that hold it up. In this case, the patchwork consists of those personal relationships built on trust that bind people together for virtuous life in common. These ties can be found in families, communities and other intermediary associations that hold the nation together in trust. Above all, these bonds are forged when people love their neighbors as themselves for the love of God, in the practice of Christian charity.

It is no secret that the strength of these social ties has dramatically weakened over the years. These important lines of communication in our society are being severed from top to bottom. The respect, affection, and courtesy flowing from these social ties no longer facilitate the organic circulation and flow of fresh ideas and vitality throughout society. Intermediary groups, like parishes and local communities, are fading away together with the feeling of security they once gave. People can no longer identify with the surviving institutions that are usually huge and bureaucratic. Hence comes the very real sensation of stagnation and alienation that is so much a part of angry politics.

Modernity does little to discourage this disaggregation or the anger. In the name of a misplaced diversity without unity, people go about the exhausting task of defining their identity, sexuality and brand without concern for society or the common good. Those who oppose this diversity are angrily labeled “bigoted” or “intolerant.”

That is why we are now seeing the frenzied disintegration of a society where all go their own way. People harden in their own positions, and the world becomes, in the words of Alasdair MacIntyre, “a meeting place for individual wills, each with its own set of attitudes and preferences and who understand that world solely as an arena for the achievement of their own satisfaction.”

The result is a political climate of mistrust that leads to a polarization that is actually a shattering of the country into thousands of little poles that make angry politics happen. This is only logical since broken trust tends to beget ever more angry distrust.

That is not to say anger cannot have a constructive role in politics. However, it should be focused and principled. It should not lead to indiscriminate rage against all authority and institutions, and the idea that no one can be trusted save oneself. Society becomes impossible if anger leads to the conclusion that each man should become his own authority and his own law.

If we are to return to order, there will need to be those who rise above self-interest and truly grieve for the nation. Such representative figures have always appeared in times of crisis to unite, never shatter, the nation. They will need to reforge those social bonds and rebuild society and its structures. They will need to rally the nation around those permanent virtues of courage, duty, courtesy, justice, and charity that encourage moderation and builds strong social bonds. Trust must be restored, and at the very root, beginning with an immense trust in God.

John Horvat is vice president and a member of the board of directors for the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), head of the TFP Commission for American studies, a TFP Sedes Sapientiae Institute instructor, and webmaster of the American TFP website (www.tfp.org). Additionally, Mr. Horvat is a member of the Association of Christian Economists, The Philadelphia Society, the National Association of Scholars, and the Catholic Writers Guild, as well as an Acton University participant.

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Noah’s Law dies in committee for second year

For the second year in a row, a bill that would make it illegal to sell caffeine pills and powders to minors died in committee.

The bill also passed the House in March and went to the Senate where it died in committee after senators couldn’t agree to some suggested changes to the bill.

The bill passed the House in 2015, only to die in a Senate committee. The bill authors, including Lafayette County Rep. Steve Massengill and Yalobusha County Rep. Tommy Reynolds brought the bill back during the current session.

Noah Smith, 17, died after taking caffeine pills he bought at a local grocery store when he found himself tired from balancing working at a grocery store and being a senior in high school.

After all, they were sold on a shelf along with medicines that he had taken throughout his 17 years whenever he had a cold or aches and pains.

The bill has been dubbed “Noah’s Law” after Smith and did not include highly caffeinated drinks, such as Red Bull or Monster, but only powders and pills. Some senators wanted to take out provisions for local municipalities and counties to pass their own laws.

The results of an autopsy confirmed that caffeine was the cause of Smith’s death on Sept. 26, 2014, when he collapsed at his Water Valley home. The cause of death was ruled cardiac dysrhythmia due to an excessive caffeine use. Smith told family members he took two caffeine pills before be collapsed. No underlying health issue was discovered during the autopsy.


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Report: Despite poverty, MS doctors eighth highest paid in nation

Physicians in Mississippi – one of the poorest states – are the eighth-highest paid in the nation, according to Medscape.com.

Rural areas are medically underserved because of the shortage of doctors, and Mississippi is the least competitive among all states.

“Numerous government policies are aimed at improving access to physicians in these areas. As a result, higher incomes are found in these regions,” Medscape states in its latest report.

A major factor is the workload for Mississippi physicians, said Dr. Dan Edney, president of the Mississippi State Medical Association.

“There are so few of us, that, compared to our patient demands, that physicians all through our state work significantly longer hours . . . than our peers around the country,” Edney said in an interview.


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“Thank you sir, may I have another?” Yet another Kemper overrun makes project $3.8 billion over budget. 


WAPT reports that Mississippi Power Co. will spend another $61 million on its overrun-plagued Kemper County power plant, pushing its total cost above $6.7 billion.

Although the unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co. will absorb $35 million of the cost, customers could pay for $26 million in interest if the Mississippi Public Service Commission eventually approves.

The utility is absorbing $2.7 billion in overruns so far, and Southern Co. will write off $53 million before taxes from its quarterly earnings, which will be announced Wednesday. After taxes, the write-off is projected to cost $33 million.

The plant and associated lignite coal mine were originally supposed to cost $2.9 billion at most, and the earliest estimates were even lower. Customers could be asked to pay as much as $4.3 billion for the plant.

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Lottery provisions removed from fantasy sports legislation.


A proposal to establish a lottery in Mississippi, once incorporated into a bill legalizing the playing of fantasy sports, was defeated during the final, hectic days of the 2016 legislative session, which ended last week.

The bill allowing the playing of fantasy sports was approved and is now pending Gov. Phil Bryant’s signature.

Earlier in the session, the House upon an amendment authored by Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Water Valley, overwhelmingly added language to the fantasy sports bill instructing the state Gaming Commission to enact a lottery in Mississippi. It was the first time a full chamber of the Mississippi Legislature had voted on a lottery in recent memory.

Only six states in the nation do not have a lottery. Reynolds said he had been opposed to a lottery but after seeing so many people buy lottery tickets in neighboring states, taking money out of Mississippi, he changed his mind on the issue.

But in conference negotiations late in the session, House and Senate negotiators removed the lottery provision from the fantasy sports legislation. Both Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate, and Bryant had expressed opposition to the lottery earlier in the session.


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District 72 Rep. Kimberly Campbell to resign by end of May


House Judiciary B Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said it has been his honor and privilege to work closely with Campbell for several years.

“As vice chairman of Judiciary B Committee, she has been a tireless voice for victims of domestic abuse, and the aged and the vulnerable,” Gipson said. “And I’m very sad to learn she is leaving the House, but I’m certain she will do a wonderful job in this new role.”

Campbell has been an advocate against domestic violence and crimes against minor children. Also, Campbell has supported fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), the formula used to determine funding for K-12 education, expansion of Medicaid in Mississippi, and funding and support for mental health agencies and medical hospitals to ensure quality care, especially in rural areas.

The lawmaker said she is also proud of her role in helping pass legislation to make it a crime to engage in human sex trafficking.

Once Campbell officially resigns, Gov. Phil Bryant will have to set a special election for the District 72 seat to select a person to serve out Campbell’s term, which ends in 2019.


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Treasurer Fitch calls new debt “irresponsible,” Lt. Gov. Reeves accuses her of “political pandering”.


[Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Treasurer Lynn Fitch have] been publicly feuding for a week over the state’s latest bond bill, a 640-page law that ranges from $45 million for Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula to $30,000 for Jackson parks. The spending on the parks, roads and other infrastructure is one thing that set Fitch off.

Reeves, on the other hand, called her complaints “political pandering.”

Pandering for what?

“I don’t know whether she does or doesn’t,” said Reeves about Fitch’s possible political aspirations. “I do know that I received the letter she sent on Wednesday afternoon (April 20), after we adjourned. The bond bill conference report was signed on Sunday night. We passed it on Monday. The last day you could hold it on a motion to reconsider was Tuesday. So, I don’t know why we received it that late or if there were serous concerns why they weren’t expressed earlier.”

Fitch, when asked if she was running for governor, didn’t exactly rule it out.

“What a compliment,” she said, although she was quick to add she likes the job she has.

Reeves, who earlier joked that if appointed king he could streamline the bonding process, said “When is that?” when asked if he was running.

“I pretty busy right now, doing my current job,” he said.

Reeves also called Fitch’s public airing of the disagreement “irresponsible.” Fitch said it was Reeves and company who are being irresponsible, driving the per capita debt to $1,747, which she said is almost double the national average. They don’t even agree on the final price tag. Reeves puts it at $250 million. Fitch says it’s more like $308 million.


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