HILL: When being an authentic ‘idiot’ could be considered ‘patriotic’

President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the National Constitution Center, Tuesday, July 13, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

I really want to say that all of this spending by the Biden administration on behalf of the Socialist Democratic Party of America is idiotic.

However, I know that could be misconstrued as being mean, nasty and offensive in today’s sensitive times. So here’s another way to get to the same word — but in a less offensive way.

The $4 trillion infrastructure bill takes the cake for fiscal irresponsibility. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) estimated in 2020 that it would take only $164 billion to repair our nation’s bridges and get them into top operational condition. Surely $1 trillion would take care of all of the modernization we need to improve America’s highways and byways.

But no, President Biden and the Socialist Progressive Democrats want to spend $3 trillion more on new entitlement programs which have nothing to do with improving our national transportation networks.

It is contrary to any sane budget policy I have ever seen in Washington put forth by any serious budget expert since 1980. Common sense and history have proven that such spending is inflationary and destructive in the long-run. 

Instead of using the word “idiotic” as a childish ad hominem attack on the Biden administration, we should consider reinstating the original meaning of the word in Greek as it was used 2,400 years ago.

Robert F. Kennedy was fond of telling his staff that, long ago in ancient Athens, “idiots” were nothing more than private citizens who kept to themselves. They didn’t participate in public debate. They didn’t run for public office. They didn’t vote. They did incur fines for not voting, but other than that penalty, these “idiots” went about their business oblivious to the rest of society.

According to various online etymology sites, the word “idiot” derives its core meaning from the Greek ἰδιώτης (pronounced ‘idios’) which meant “a private citizen and ἰδιώτης (‘idiōtēs’) which meant a “person lacking professional skill”.

Men with property who could afford to buy swords and shields to serve as hoplites in the Greek army were required to participate in debates and discussions in the public square in ancient Athens. They were considered “polites,” or “public citizens” worthy of honor and respect, because they participated in the art of politics, which, by the way, included how they were going to tax everyone including themselves to pay for wars in which they would be combatants, not some unknown poor person they would vote to send into battle against the vaunted Spartan or Persian armies.

That is the definition of a pure “participatory democracy” right there. “Tax Me and Send Me to War!” is a slogan hardly ever uttered on the floor of Congress in the last 60 years.

The Latin word “idiota” later was understood to mean the “ordinary person” or “layman,” which carried the connotation that they lacked the education and ability to participate in the public arena through rhetoric and diplomacy. In the 14th century, the Middle English “idiot,” and in Old French “idiote,” gained widespread use to describe an ignorant, stupid person or someone who was just plain crazy, to borrow some non-politically correct terms from the 21st century. 

Perhaps people in America today who favor balanced budgets, a strong national defense and personal and religious freedom, whether they are conservative, independent or liberal, need to help restore the less offensive ancient Greek connotation of the word “idiot.” A generous pension fund could be set up and offer golden parachutes to lifelong politicians such as President Biden and any socialist Democrat — as well as any of the many spendthrift Republicans who have served in Washington — to retire from public life permanently and stay out of everyone else’s business like the “idiots” of ancient Athens.

It would be far less expensive than electing them and allowing them to continue running up the national debt on us and future generations. Americans could salute them as patriots for stepping aside in the national interest before they can do any more harm.