Conroe, May 13 – There is a Great Divide in Montgomery County politics. Some might call it “The Establishment” versus “The Reformers.” More importantly, it’s a philosophical divide.
Philosophy and Locke
Man started off in his state of nature. As he socialized with others, he began to recognize that he had fundamental individual rights to hunt, gather, eat, and build families as he wanted to do so, as long as he didn’t harm others in their pursuits. Nevertheless, he also recognized that predators threatened his hopes and that the most efficient method of fighting those predators was in the form of “mutual protective associations” (MPAs) which he organized with other men and women. Those MPAs offered him the opportunity to hunt, gather, eat, and build most of his time, other than those brief periods when he had to serve in the MPA to protect himself and others.
Other than those MPAs, man realized that he was an individual and had the right to pursue his happiness in the manner in which he chose. Only when he served the MPA did he forego some of his individuality. How did he serve the MPA? In the “original” state of nature, man serve it at least by two methods: (1) direct service as a member of the MPA, and (2) contributing some of his resources to the MPA so that it could provide services to man and to others.
Today, we call those MPAs by slightly different names, but it’s the same concept. Today, we name those MPAs “the military” and “law enforcement.”
John Locke (“Second Treatise on Government”) and Thomas Hobbes (“Leviathan”) would experience great surprise to see the extent to which man has taken those MPAs and turned them into frightening organisms that go far beyond “mutual protection.” Today, we refer to those frightening organisms under the scariest name of all: the “government.” The “government” goes far beyond “mutual protection,” because “government” has begun to protect itself rather than the individuals who chose to establish it.
That’s the philosophical divide. That’s the Great Divide.
The Great Divide
The Great Divide in Montgomery County politics is between those individuals who believe that government’s sole purpose is to protect the rights of individuals who live on the North Rim (figuratively), while those individuals who believe that government must protect itself are the individuals who live on the South Rim (also figuratively).
In summary, the Great Divide is between those who believe government exists to prosper and protect government and those who believe governments should only exist as the ultra-minimalist state (to use the late philosopher Robert Nozick’s terminology).
When you speak to Craig Doyal, Charlie Riley, or Mike Meador, you find people who are very concerned about protecting the County government. They want to “maintain services,” “ensure government grows,” and “meet our responsibility to make sure the County government is strong.” There are others with that outlook, which some might refer to as “bureaucratic” because fostering the “bureaucracy” is their priority.
When you speak to Rand Henderson, James Noack, or Mark Turnbull, you find people who are very concerned about protecting the citizens’ individual rights within our community. That’s a different approach. (Commissioner Jim Clark has the potential to be on the right side of the Great Divide.)
The May 9 Commissioners Court meeting revealed an interesting Divide between Sheriff Rand Henderson and the people who worked with the Sheriff’s Office during the discussion of inmate health services. The Sheriff is a bit of a philosopher. He does appear to believe that government exists to protect individuals. If you don’t believe that, you should hear the line of thought coming from most of the presenters in the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Academy all of whom work for Henderson. They are very sensitive to the rights of individuals. If you don’t believe that, contact Officer David J. Borchardt, a Great Philosopher inside Sheriff Henderson’s Office. You’ll find someone very cognizant of the preeminence of individual rights and the role of MPAs in a society of individuals, even though he is a practicing and highly accomplished peace officer.
At the same time, the County government representatives, from outside of the Sheriff’s Office, such as in the Purchasing Department, revealed a far more government-centric view of the universe in their discussion of inmate health services. It didn’t bother them to choose the most expensive pricing available. In this instance, they sorely needed Sheriff Henderson’s and his Jail Administrative Oliver Coward’s individual-centric philosophical bent, but the process suffered from their decision not to become directly involved in the process of choosing the menu of inmate health services. (Fortunately, the process will have another look over the next two weeks and could benefit from their leadership.)
Since the County government is faced with choices involving many millions of dollars of expense, Henderson, Coward, and Borchardt are precisely the philosophical bent of people, along with Noack, who should be directly involved in making those decisions.
We, the individual citizens, need their protection. We don’t want to fall into the middle of the Great Divide. Instead, we want Henderson, Coward, Borchardt, and Noack to protect us from Doyal, Riley, Meador, and the Purchasing Department.