It’s not just Detroit. Americans used to see their representatives as just that: representatives. Now they see their politicians as protectors, lords and ladies of the fiefdom: If you grant them office, they will ensure that you may plow your field in peace. Just make sure to toss them an extra portion of your harvest. Hence our willingness to elect bad men and women to high office: They are not we. They just protect us. Nobody expected King Henry VIII to avoid the ladies; his job was to protect the kingdom. Nobody expects their congressperson to avoid sin; his or her job is to bring home the occasional bacon and keep the foreign lords from the land.
This is what happens when we stop seeing ourselves as sovereign and begin seeing our elected officials as sovereign. We no longer see them as our representatives in the most literal sense: They do not represent us, our values, anything about us. They merely sit in their castles and deign to protect us occasionally. Who cares, therefore, if Roy Moore is an alleged child molester? He’s not me. He’s just the guy in power. And all we care about is how he uses power. If that comes along with a bit of food-court trolling, should we truly care? Who cares if Al Franken grabs women’s breasts as they sleep? Surely Henry II did worse, and he secured his holdings in France.
It’s obvious that we’ve stopped thinking of ourselves as citizens and begun to think of ourselves as subjects.