No Exceptions

Here’s the funny thing…the rules apply to you too….

“It merits particular attention in this place, that the laws of the Confederacy, as to the ENUMERATED and LEGITIMATE objects of its jurisdiction, will become the SUPREME LAW of the land; to the observance of which all officers, legislative, executive, and judicial, in each State, will be bound by the sanctity of an oath. Thus the legislatures, courts, and magistrates, of the respective members, will be incorporated into the operations of the national government AS FAR AS ITS JUST AND CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY EXTENDS; and will be rendered auxiliary to the enforcement of its laws.”

~ Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 27, 25 December 1787

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It’s really an interesting concept we have here in America – our government and the people in it are actually required to observe the same set of rules that we do.  This isn’t exactly a “new” concept.  Even a few thousand years ago, there would occasionally come a ruler who realized that rules in a nation had to apply equally to all involved (you can thank Hammurabi for that).  Intriguingly enough though, it has never really been the norm.  Nations have come and gone since the dawn of human history, and the idea that the government is accountable to the law and not above it, is still uncommon, especially in practice.  The Founding Fathers lived in an era and under a colonial period where the rules weren’t the same for everyone.  British citizens back home had rights and privileges that somehow didn’t apply to the colonists.  Besides being inherently confusing, it was also obviously unfair, and it was one of the things that led the Founders to declare that everyone has fundamental rights – rights that their government cannot simply take away or disregard.  The Founders also realized in order to have a government “by the people” and “for the people” that the people who became elected to office and who worked in the bureaucracy had to be subject to the exact same set of rules.  So they deliberately created a government that was as bound by its own laws as its citizens.

Yet these days we’re seeing an alarming trend.  Somehow we have developed a government who now thinks it’s acceptable to flout these fundamental rights as well as the very laws they’ve created for everyone else in the nation.  There’s no acceptable reason that this should ever be permitted, or that we should continue to permit it.  It doesn’t matter if it helps “protect” our nation.  The Constitution forbids a great many other things that one could argue help “protect” people, like quartering troops in civilian homes; the British had done that for exactly that reason – to keep people safe.  Just because something brings a little more safety or security DOES NOT mean it’s a good idea or permissible under our laws, and for good reason.  The potential for abuses in these cases far outweighs the slight protections infringing on our liberties would grant.  Or as the old colonial axiom coined by Benjamin Franklin so rightly puts it, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  We aren’t safer when the government breaks its own laws, especially the core ones that define who we are as a nation.  In fact when we accept our government doing so, and our government seems to believe that it’s perfectly okay, that’s when we are in the greatest danger we can ever be.  Because the real danger in a democracy does not come from the outside, it comes from within.

 

Res Publica

 

Documentation without Representation:

Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, No. 27, 25 December 1787

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed27.asp

Electronic Text Courtesy of The Avalon Project at Yale Law School

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