“Our government” has undercut the fundamental and universal principle that “We the People” have the right to privacy, and that they (the Federal Government) must be transparent. But when was the 4th Amendment unconstitutionally violated by our own government? Was it when the nuclear bomb was created in secret (out of potential necessity) back during the Manhattan Project? Or, perhaps it was as far back as the Civil War, when Lincoln (also out of apparent political necessity) used federal forces against the Southern states to preserve a “more perfect Union.”
The demise of our inalienable right to privacy, and the destruction of the “limited government” political philosophy can actually be traced further back in our Nation’s history. In fact, the First Continental Congress deliberated behind closed doors, because they didn’t want the “Peoples” of the independent states to protest the creation of a new form of government before they could even set it in motion with the ratification of the Constitution. You see they needed a marketing scheme to sell the idea of a stronger more unified government to “the People,” and so they sold the old paradigm (monarchy) with new window-dressing (federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances) on the people of “these United States” with the Federalist Papers. Why did they go through so much trouble?
Well, “Americans” were weary of monarchy, and of all of the tyrannical abuses of power that arose from such consolidated systems of oppression when they followed “Machiavellian” political approaches – i.e. “it is better to be feared than to be loved.” So, ironically, the Constitution itself became the vehicle for gradual consolidation of political and economic power by the wealthy land-owning elite of America, but the States, through the power of “the People” (or State citizens – land owners in each state at that time) were supposed to “check” the power of the General government through their State representatives democratically elected.
But guess what, when Abraham Lincoln decided to use force against the people of the Southern states (albeit for a just cause), he set a problematic precedent of power in motion that ensured the States and the people (a.k.a. the ruling elite within those states) would be very, very wary of attempting to “check” the General government ever again. In other words, “honest Abe” sent a message (via General William Tecumseh Sherman) to those attempting to exercise “the People’s” power in the States, get with the Federal Government’s program, or get “burnt to the ground” (see history of Atlanta, Georgia).
So much for our Jeffersonian agrarian limited form of government (and the anti-Federalists and John C. Calhoun’s right of secession arguments). If allowed to gain political clout (like the concept of popular sovereignty), the right of secession by the States would have been an excellent means of ensuring the Federal government never got too big for it’s britches!
Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas ruled the “right to privacy” was found within the “penumbras” of the Constitution, but his logical and majority interpretation of the Constitution has been undercut ever since by Federal information and collection gathering agencies and organizations engaging in unconstitutional violations of privacy ever since!
Likewise, the ability for a state or states to be able to peacefully withdrawal from “the Union” (a.k.a. the Not-So-United “States” of America) when it (the government) has stopped representing the interests of “the People” needs to be revisited in our modern political era. At present count, EVERY state (all 50) in the Union has petitions to peacefully withdraw from the Union! These petitions (along with Congress’s and the President’s current approval ratings) speak volumes of the growing discontent in this country over how are country is being led. Not since Watergate have a sufficient number of American’s trusted their government sufficiently to give it sufficient credibility to claim it represents the wishes of the American people.
The Federalists (John Jay’s, James Madison’s, and Alexander Hamilton’s) political ideas birthed the military-industrial complex Dwight D. Eisenhower so prophetically warned us about at the end of his Presidency. All that was needed was time and turmoil for our government to grow into a Leviathan (see Thomas Hobbes). What am I talking about? A three (or perhaps four, if you count the media) headed hydra that has utilized various crises (the American Revolution, Shay’s Rebellion, the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the War on Drugs, and 9-11) as a justifiable pretext to grow into a monster that is undermining “the People’s” and the once independent State’s fundamental rights, powers, and freedoms!
However, each time, we are told by our government when it over-steps it’s constitutional authority, or when we lose yet another freedom, that their actions are “a necessary evil” to strengthen the Federal Government’s hegemony in the name of forming or protecting our “more perfect Union” (to supposedly protect us from enemies both foreign and domestic). But at this point, some 250 years later, who do we really need protection from? What real redress do “the People” have when their own mutated form of government becomes the enemy of our God-given inalienable rights?
I consider myself to be a patriotic American, but I believe we must question the intentions and authority of our government from time-to-time to ensure an America we can be proud of. Unfortunately, I must admit it has been quite a while since I have been able to recognize the idealistic “America” I was taught about in school. Both domestically and abroad our country has been doing things it should be ashamed of (see the COINTELPRO operations, and/or the various successful and unsuccessful attempts of the CIA to overthrow various democratically elected political leaders around the world – most recently Hugo Chavez). Recent (and not-so-recent) evidence does appear to reveal that our form of government is no longer willing to honor the basic tenets of our Constitution – i.e. the Bill of Rights or the Geneva Convention and International Law. Why?
The answer is that it would appear those with the real “reigns of power” in this country believe they cannot effectively and efficiently combat global terrorism (the most recent crisis that cannot possibly ever really be won without a Pyrrhic victory) without first violating domestic and international laws. But when our political leaders turn a blind-eye to NSA surveillance of American citizens (and other presumably innocent until proven guilty citizens of other countries) without a warrant, they not only violate our Constitution, but they violate international law as well. Every NSA monitored call, text, e-mail, or blog, when combined with Defense Department drone-strikes, violates not only the privacy of another nation’s citizens, but without sufficient proof and over-sight, it is nothing more than state-sanctioned murder. It is also a clear violation of any other nation’s sovereignty, and a violation of the Geneva Convention’s rules on how war is to be conducted. When Americans tolerate these illegal and unethical tactics for even a moment, they are not living up to their own ideals, and they are basically saying like the Greeks did so long ago, that “the ends justify the means.” Also, it sends a clear message to the international community that “all bets are off” regarding international law! So, what does all this mean? The original “Social Contract” for why governments were ever formed has been broken, and anarchy may soon once again reign supreme throughout the world. If this occurs, then a “state of nature” will once again prevail where “might makes right,” instead of mutual compromise and a united coalition of countries fostering a new (perhaps less violent and oppressive) world order -i.e. an empowered United Nations implementing it’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
So, what should the “average Joe” in America do about it? Well, to be honest, the “average Joe” is now too busy trying to find enough “Benjamins” just to pay rent (since post “Cold-War” Defense spending and the “Dole state” have led to the demise of the middle-class) and the ability for most Americans to own their own home. But, hey, even if you are swamped with bills for things you may not even really need, get your head out of the sand, and look around at what is going on!
What are the alternatives? We can either just continue to trust our governmental leaders, and hope they will hold themselves accountable; or we can elect new governmental leaders to replace the old ones (and hope they do something new to fix the problem); or perhaps someone can suggest yet another amendment to the Constitution to hopefully finally solve the problem; or here is a novel idea, why don’t we hold a Constitutional Convention to address the unconstitutional actions of our government; or people like me can just continue to exercise their first amendment rights and rant about it on blogs like this one (until we are silenced); or, perhaps before they start knocking on all our doors in the middle of the night (see the history of Joseph Stalin), and we begin disappearing to re-education work camps for our non-conformist political views (see the history of Mao Zedong), as a very last resort, if our reasoned arguments and/or non-violent civil disobedience (see the history of Mahatma Gandhi / Martin Luther King) doesn’t get the job done, perhaps it really is time to follow the writer of the Declaration of Independence’s advice! For as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently stated at the founding of our fledgling democracy, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” Now I realize that sounds pretty radical and perhaps even seditious, but hey, the Boston Tea Partiers seemed a bit too radical and seditious as well until the Boston Massacre and the American Revolution turned them into Patriots instead of thieves and destroyers of the King’s property!
Now, don’t get me wrong, as a man of conscience who supports non-violent change, I sincerely hope calmer heads will prevail, and that it will never come to that, because violence seldom makes anything better, only worse. But if those in power will not listen, or be moved by the plights of those without (who suffer daily from the abuses of those in power), if the ruling elite throughout the world are all just going to take a Marie Antoinette “let them eat cake” economic and political stance on the issues, then perhaps it is yet time again for a few elitist heads to roll!
If revolution or peaceful mass political demonstrations like those that Gene Sharp advocate have been good enough for the Vietnamese, the Croatians, the Soviets, the Arabs, the Turks, and now the Brazilians, then why shouldn’t the citizens of the “greatest country in the world” lead us into a new dawn of international democratic empowerment and renewed respect for the rule of law throughout the world?
The roots of this movement are much older than most realize, because they arose in the signing of the Magna Charta, and were further grown in the secession of the American colonies from the British Empire. They were “watered” by the political turmoil of the American Revolution, the People’s response to the Alien and Sedition Acts, the rise of Jacksonian Democracy, the urban improvements of the Progressive era, and the work-place improvements of the Labor Movement, and of course, by the tumultuous political and cultural movements of the 1960s. But unlike our parents, we cannot let political assassinations, Kent State massacres, water-cannon, police attack dogs, and “police riots” like those that occurred during the 1968 Democratic Convention break our free spirits! Likewise, with the demise of the middle class, we don’t have the luxury of being pacified by materialistic distractions anymore. Now, only the “opiate of the masses,” the idiot box, and illicit and prescription drugs seem to keep us from recognizing the chains that bind us, and keep us from demanding our inalienable rights.
The time has come yet again, another political and economic paradigm shift is long past due, and I would rather we develop into a one world humanity of confederated Nations that respect each other’s diverse cultures, religions, and customs, than into a world of corporate colonialism micro-managed by authoritarian multinational corporations and self-interested rogue political regimes who do not see the true value of the human capital in the countries they exploit domestically and internationally.
So what shall it be? If we’ve found ourselves yet again in the philosophical “state of nature” that political philosophers like John Locke, Jean Jacque Rousseau, and Thomas Hobbes wrote about so many years ago, then I ask of you my fellow citizens of the world; are we to live like enlightened human beings, or like savage animalistic creatures?
Shall we continue to sit idly by, and watch this generation eat it’s own young with idiotic economic policies? Will we sit on our thumbs, and passively watch innocent civilians in foreign lands get blown to bits on TV screens? Is this the new Manifest Destiny? Or will we have the courage, like generations of patriots before us, to speak out against the socio-economic injustices we bare witness to? Will we turn a blind-eye to domestic and international tyranny, or will we strive to create new and improved political and economic systems to prevent the extinction of liberty and “the pursuit of happiness” in our own life-times? I am but a humble messenger, and thus I should not be killed for delivering the message, but the system is broken, and we need a new social contract that encompasses and incorporates the technological advances of the 20th century so that democracy can be viable yet again.