In Favor of Congressmen Raising Vegetables
"Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains." - Thomas Jefferson
I recently started a small garden. The physical work of turning yard into garden gave me an attachment to the soil. The chopping away of the mat of grass and weeds on top. The breaking up and removal of rock. The building up of boundaries and laying in of good soil. All of these things nurtured in me an attachment to a piece of ground. It wasn't just "my land" as an idea. It was "my land" as a reality. I worked it with my hands. I smelt it.
I recommend that all of our political leaders start a garden as an aide to good government. And not just the office holders, but their aides, and the bureaucrats and pundits. The whole ruling class. Ideals are essential, but not total. The commitment to America as an ideal can only be enhanced and made more real by personally committing to the actual soil of her ground. Committing not just with words, but in simple and honest actions that give those words substance.
In our current economy, even big agriculture is done with methods that transform it into mere mercantilism of the sort Jefferson warned us about. As big money from global, not even national, corporations drives more and more of our political process, and captures the two major political organizations through which our leadership class must pass, the result can only be what we have seen. We have a leadership class without much real attachment to the country. They are attached only to ideas in their heads, which they suppose represents the country. But that's not the country, its their own heads.
By touching the soil, by working it, by coaxing it into producing something real, our leadership class can build up traits that will help them gain more character in themselves and more affection for this land. That assumes that these are still goals that they desire, and I am afraid the question is very much in doubt. Still, for those who gravitate to power centers like the Washington Beltway, for those who think they ought to be the ones shaping the whole world, it couldn't hurt a bit for them to see how hard it is for them to shape a mere 10 by 10 foot patch of rocky soil into a few pounds of fresh vegetables.
If their souls are any good at all, it will help put their grandiose ideas into perspective. If their soul is not any good, at least it will keep them from meddling in our lives just that much longer. Yes friends, I recommend that our ruling class pick up the mattock, and try some gardening.