I was pondering the vagaries of politics this afternoon and ran across an interesting article by a guy named Charlie Reese. The following three paragraphs, in particular, stood out.
That every tyrant who ever lived rationalized his abuse of power by claiming to be protecting the people or the empire or the country is kindergarten basic civics. We should know better at this point in our history. We are a nation of laws, not an empire and not a monarchy. Our Constitution deliberately created a weak chief executive.
The president, for example, is not our commander in chief. He's the commander in chief of the armed forces. As far as we civilians are concerned, he is just the administrator of laws passed by Congress. He cannot make laws. He cannot assume powers not given to him by the Constitution or by Congress. He must obey all the laws just the same as you and me.
A problem for many Americans is that they have never lived in the free republic created by our forefathers. We became a war state during World War II, and the Cold War was used as an excuse to maintain a war state and to expand it. We are spending more on defense than most of the rest of the world combined at a time when the only threats we face are isolated attacks by a loosely organized band of criminals. The government in Washington has become as secretive as the old Soviet Union.
That our president is, in theory, following the same laws as the rest of us is nothing new - I've been hollering about that for years. (Our current president, Mr. George Walker Bush, simply ignores the nation's laws and does what he wants. He's done it time and again, most recently with spying on United States citizens.) The fact that we've been in a "war state" for the past 65 years or so is a fact that I've forgotten. It's been pointed out to me before, but I didn't really understand the implications. I'm not sure I do now, to be honest.
I do know that we keep giving our government more and more power, more and more control. Do I want the government to provide me with policemen and firemen and sewers that work and make sure my food is safe to eat? Of course! Do I want the government to be a big bully about it, spying on people and starting wars over personal vendettas? Of course not! We need to let our government know that they've gone over the line. In fact, we may need to re-draw the lines altogether.
The article concluded thusly:
I would like to see all Americans send the president a simple message: "With all due respect, sir, obey the damned laws or resign. Both the law and the Constitution require warrants for domestic spying. Get them. Both the law and the Constitution require that Congress exercise oversight. Cooperate with Congress. You are a public servant, not a God-anointed ruler of a kingdom."
You can read the entire article by clicking here.