Read this very eloquent and profound article by Lew Rockwell: Learning About the State.
In the 17th century we begin to see the emergence of the impersonal state. Under this approach, the ruler does not use his own resources. He is a manager. If he dies, nothing changes. The state itself takes on a permanent form. It is not elected. It is hired and lives on regardless of the changes at the top.
The U.S. has never hosted a personal state. The president was always to be the manager and overseer of a tiny state that ruled with the permission of the people and the lower orders of government: the people and government are one, and this would serve as a check on power. Of course this was a mistake, a reflection of the naïveté of the classical liberal position.
In time, the U.S. took on all the features of an impersonal nation state. It developed a permanent bureaucracy, especially after the tragic end of the “spoils system.” It developed a money machine and monopolized and created its own currency. It began to host its own unelected military that was a “professional” fighting force and not a citizen militia. It became home to a million hangers-on who made the state their careers and their source of economic security.
Today, the state embodies all the worst features of the unaccountable, impersonal leviathan that had been the goal of every bad-guy political dreamer in world history. We can see this in operation during the financial meltdown. The people making the decisions and conducting policy were not elected by anyone. They report to no one. They are the Secretary of the Treasury and the head of the Fed, and each represents certain private sector interests among the financial elite. They conduct their policies based on their private assessment of what is good for those they represent, and they do it in cooperation with the permanently entrenched bureaucracy and financial managers who rule the country.
Only after the plans were in place and announced did the impersonal state approach the personal part of the state for codification and confirmation, which the personal state was glad to grant with conditions. We can also see this at work in the political parties. McCain and Obama were quick to endorse the entire bailout on grounds that it is a national emergency, so, of course, they must set aside their partisan differences.
They always set aside their partisan differences! This is the way the impersonal state works.