A Grievous Breach of Trust
Part of what is commonly called the “human condition” is a capacity for making mistakes. Even if we don’t want to admit it, we know that we’re not always right and that our decisions often require second-guessing. That’s why nearly every modern form of government has some kind of correction mechanism.
In the United States, we’ve most recently seen this correction mechanism come into play regarding provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that effectively declare the U.S. a “battlefield”—opening the door to U.S. citizens being detained indefinitely or even killed without due process of law. A federal judge has ruled the provisions unconstitutional on the basis that they overreach government authority, under the Fifth Amendment in particular.
This is a half-step in the right direction, but it doesn’t quite do justice to the situation. The provisions in question are not part of a simple, honest mistake, nor do they represent a flawed decision in need of fine-tuning. They are an egregious attack on the people of the U.S.
Many times in our lives, we find ourselves in positions of trust, and we similarly trust others. Sometimes the trust is earned over time, but very often it is allowed out of necessity, as is the case with government. Someone must be at the helm of the great machine established to create and enforce laws for the benefit of the public. And sometimes, it is necessary to expel operators of that machine because it is clear that they can no longer be trusted to wield such power. Most often the culprit is greed; a bureaucrat abuses his access to public funds, for example, and is forced to return the funds and rescind his position.
But what do we do when it appears that the whole crew in charge of the machine has conspired against us? That is the question we must consider in light of the NDAA’s “battlefield” provisions, and so many other grievous breaches of the public trust.
In the past decade alone, we have witnessed the operations of a government so infested with corrupt, malevolent operators that it acts with impunity against us, committing such a vast series of offensive acts that the built-in correction mechanisms can’t even keep up. Nearly all of the basic precepts of governance laid out in the Constitution have been obliterated on the basis of fear-mongering, expediency, or outright disdain.
Freedom of expression, religion, assembly, and the press are perpetually undermined by far-reaching “national security” concerns. The right to bear arms is constantly under attack from demagogues who, rather than use the correct procedure to amend the rule, erect mazes of bureaucratic obstacles between citizens and tools of defense. There is no longer any such thing as a right to security of person and property; lawful warrants are treated as an occasional courtesy to be afforded when no excuse exists to avoid them. Due process exists in name only, and is given to take on any form that is convenient to those in power. The representatives of the states are constantly bribed and threatened in order to maintain federal dominance over what is supposed to be bottom-up authority.
In short, government has become an instrument of abuse to the people, a leviathan whose flailing arms spare only those who live within its scaly skin. War is waged to satiate greed and pride. Property is stolen and destroyed without just cause. Taxation and regulation have become such heavy yokes that they stifle the flow of progress. No one knows who will be the next target of the state, nor for what reason.
These misdeeds represent nothing short of a War on Freedom, commenced in earnest on Tuesday, September 11, 2001—not by fanatics with box-cutters, but by fanatics with access to immense legal and societal power. Since then, we have faced what the writers of the Declaration of Independence would most certainly recognize as a “long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object”: the disestablishment of all meaningful forms of liberty.
Sadly, the striking down of the NDAA “battlefield” provisions does not even represent a victory. It represents a public on the brink of defeat, broken-boned and crumpled upon a curb, helplessly coughing up its own blood onto the shoes of its attackers.
Kings have had their necks severed for much less. There can be no victory, no triumph of freedom, as long as the same ass still warms the throne. This isn’t about any particular president, legislator, or political party, but about the institution itself—a congregation of thousands of colluding tyrants who would sooner sell us all into slavery than honestly perform the obligations of their offices.
It would be an unforgivable sin to afflict the next generations of this world with such a malicious entity, further empowered by the appearance of long-term normalcy. Every moment we decline to oppose the obvious evil in our presence, we are tacitly condoning it. In our lifetimes, we must do everything in our power to weaken this beast, to spread discontent about its doings, and to ultimately send it to some abyss of history.