Some of the best moments in political campaigns come from linguistic slips that offer unintentional peeks at candidates’ true agendas. One such slip comes from the campaign of Jon Barela, a New Mexico Republican seeking to replace Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Barela’s campaign slogan reads, “Putting people back in charge of their destiny, not the government.” Note that the meaning of this phrase isn’t the same as the phrase, Putting people, not the government, back in charge of their destiny.
Apparently, Barela’s campaign isn’t interested in putting people back in charge of the government. If we are to accept his words at face value, Barela wants people to be in control only of their individual fates, and leave the government for someone else to control.
Surely that’s not what Barela really meant to say, but it seems close to the truth nonetheless.
First, consider Jon Barela’s dependence upon corporate special interest groups. Barela’s congressional campaign has benefitted from $695,603 in independent expenditures by groups that hide their donors. That money has been used to attack Congressman Heinrich, giving Barela a better chance of victory on Election Day.
Then, consider Barela’s positions on important issues. Barela wants to expand the federal budget deficit by reducing the amount that extraordinarily wealthy Americans are asked to contribute to society. He wants to reduce regulation of corporations that put Americans at risk. He supports a health care system dominated by insurance companies rather than one controlled by the American people. He wants to reduce the size and power of the one organization that’s legally established to represent all the American people, rather than corporations.
Grammatical slips aside, Jon Barela’s campaign slogan makes no logical sense, because it depicts the people of the United States and the government of the United States as two separate things. Here in the USA, we have a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Unlike the big corporations, our federal government is democratically established by the people of our nation. If the federal government of the United States of America isn’t as good as it ought to be, that’s only because more Americans aren’t as involved in the process of guiding the creation of the government as they ought to be.
The government is dedicated to serving the people of the nation. Corporations are dedicated to making profits by using the people of our nation. Jon Barela has placed himself on the side of the corporations, standing against our government of the people.
Under Barela’s vision, the destiny of the American people would be to sit down and take whatever corporate executives decide they should have. People will be in charge of their destinies only to the extent that they are able to pay the charge for private services that used to be provided by their own government.