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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Servants or Masters?

The concept of elected officials being public servants seems to be lost on the current incumbent of the White House.  That is unfortunate, because when elected officials begin thinking of themselves as the masters, and the voters who elected them as their servants, democracy has been turned on its head. 

The first Americans traced their freedom to the issuing of the Magna Carta in 1215.  Powerful feudal lords forced English King John to sign the Magna Carta.  This founding document established the rule of law as being above and over the rule of any man.  It established Englishmen as free men with defined liberties and it established that the rule of the King could not be arbitrary, that is, above the law.  Americans from the 1600s until the time of the American Revolution stood proud as British citizens whose individual freedom was protected by the Magna Carta.

In reality, although King John signed the Magna Carta, he and his successors did not adhere to it closely.  Nevertheless, this document established the concept of the rule of law, not the rule of man.  And, although Parliament had been established long before 1776, its power was limited and the power of the King of England was nearly unlimited.  Like Kings before him, King George ignored the Magna Carta whenever he found it desirable. 

At this time King George was a true Monarch.  He was the master, and the English people were his subjects.  As the American Declaration of Independence clearly documents, King George violated the letter and the spirit of the Magna Carta.  His intent and his actions were intended to bring the Americans to heel.  They were to do what he told them to do and they were to knuckle under as his servants.  Yes, the Parliament rubber stamped his actions, but make no mistake, they were the actions of a tyrant.

The Americans rebelled.  And, when they declared their separation from England, they set forth to create a new form of government.  It wasn’t just to be an Athenian democracy or a Roman republic, neither of which was very free or very republican or democratic in nature.  What the American Founders sought was to create a true republic that put almost all power into the hands of the people and that limited the power of those in public office.

President Obama has complained in a radio interview…

“…generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf…”

President Obama is right.  It’s not the state that needs protection from the people; it is the people who need protection from the government.  That was the clear understanding of the Founders.  They sought to create a new form a government where the people were all powerful, and the government was limited to specific, enumerated powers.

They knew from personal experience of the danger of an all-powerful monarch who could on a whim strip them of their freedom as British citizens.  They also knew from reading Montesquieu that the power of government must be limited and divided in order for freedom to survive.  Wikipedia says this about Montesquieu…

“Montesquieu was the most frequently quoted authority on government and politics in colonial pre-revolutionary British America, cited more by the American founders than any source except for the Bible. Following the American revolution, Montesquieu's work remained a powerful influence on many of the American founders, most notably James Madison of Virginia, the ‘Father of the Constitution.’ Montesquieu's philosophy that ‘government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another’ reminded Madison and others that a free and stable foundation for their new national government required a clearly defined and balanced separation of powers.”

And, by relying on the understanding of the Bible as to the imperfect nature of man, the Founders set about creating a government framework wherein no one man or group of men could gain power over American citizens as monarchs had for ages past.  This message of the fallen state of man is repeated clearly throughout the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  In Ecclesiastes 7:20 it is written, “Certainly, there is no one so righteous on earth that he always does what is good and never sins.”  In Romans 3:23 it says, “Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God's glory.”  Indeed, this truth of the imperfection of man is a theme that runs throughout the entire Bible, because the Bible is a rescue tale.  It is the story of God sending his only son, Jesus, to rescue fallen men and women from total separation from God.  If any man could obtain his own perfection, he would not be in need of God.  But, because all have sinned, the only path to heaven is through trust in Jesus. 

The Bible was, as Wikipedia notes, the most read book of the Founders.  There was no way to escape the message of man’s fallen state if someone reads it in even a cursory fashion.  It was this knowledge of the imperfection of man that drove the founders to limit the power of any man or group of men in government. 

As George Washington clearly put it… Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like a fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master.”  Washington and the other Founders clearly understood the reality of human nature.  They understood the danger of giving man through government too much power.  They understood, from their reading of history, that it is government and only government that enslaves men, and turns them into pawns of the state.

That’s why the United States Constitution is written giving the government negative rights, as Barack Obama put it.  It is those negative rights that protect you and I from tyranny.

The Founders were well aware of the concept of public service, the idea of someone elected to office being the servant of the people, not vice versa.  It was a concept strongly held by the Founders. 

But, the actions of the Obama Administration during the current government shut down belie their lordly attitude toward American citizens.  In fact, they are spiteful toward Americans.  There have been eleven shutdowns of the federal government since 1980.  Not one of these shutdowns has ever before included…

  • Blocking access to the Lincoln Memorial or any other memorial
  • Canceling all White House tours
  • Shutting down private businesses in or near federal parks
  • Threats to stop mailing out Social Security checks
  • Blocking access to the permanent residences of in holders inside of national parks.
  • Chaining off access to the World War II Memorial
  • Shutting down Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC
  • Closing down the Grand Canyon even though the state of Arizona agreed to pay all necessary costs to keep it open

These and many more outrageous and arrogant steps taken by the Obama Administration have been taken with one sole purpose, to cause pain to the American people.  Their goal is to frustrate and aggravate Americans by these closures, and blame it all on the Republicans.  These are the steps that a master takes to punish his servants.  This is the prevailing attitude of the Obama White House.  We are the servants, and he is the master.

Our President does not hesitate to fly off to Florida to play golf with Tiger Woods and spend $148,000 per hour riding in Air Force One, but he can’t seem to find the pittance needed to keep the White House tours open.

These aren’t acts caused by a shortage of funds caused by the Republicans.  It is the spiteful act of a President who refuses to negotiate with the Republicans over the  Continuing Resolution for funding the government.  These are arrogant and petty attempts by the Administration to punish and hurt the people it purportedly serves. 

Does the President care about you and me?  Does he care about the law of the land?  Does he care about the huge debt he has run up?  Does he understand that he is the servant and we are the masters?  No, he apparently does not.

The President absolutely refuses to negotiate, even though on 27 previous occasions riders have been attached to a Continuing Resolution for funding.  And, in each of those occasions, the then President worked with Congress to resolve their differences.  But, the principle of non-negotiation set forth by President Obama is understandable.  After all, he taught Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and one of Alinsky’s rules is never negotiate with your enemy.  And, President Obama has made it clear on more than one occasion that you are I are his enemies.  In the 2008 election he identified Republicans as his “enemies.”

Rules for Radicals also explains his unnecessary punishment of American citizens during the government shutdown.  Rule 12 says, “Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”  This disciple of Saul Alinsky is our President of the United States.

President Obama is playing every card in Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, but it is not working.  He is blaming the Republicans for the hardships he has intentionally imposed on American citizens, but they are not taking the bait.  The Republicans’ own internal polling shows them winning the debate as long as they frame it accurately, i.e., the President refuses to negotiate, and the Republicans are willing to negotiate.  Even a dunderhead can understand that the President is an unfair bully and the Republicans are playing fair and above board.

But, of course, the President denies it all.  Barack Obama recently told CNBC host John Harwood…

“I think it’s fair to say that during the course of my Presidency I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican Party, and have purposely kept my rhetoric down.  I think I’m pretty well known for being a calm guy.  Sometimes people think I’m too calm.”

You have got to give it to him, the guy can tell a whopper with a straight face.

He must have forgotten his comments a few days earlier in Maryland where he said…

“The Speaker of the House, John Boehner…” is acting as he is only because… “…he doesn’t want to anger the extremists in his party.  That’s all.  That’s what this whole thing is about.”  The President also talked about… “…the Republican obsession with denying affordable health insurance to millions of American.  That’s all this has become about.  That seems to be the only thing that unites the Republican Party these days.” 

And, of course his surrogates in Congress and members of the White House staff have talked about the Republicans being “terrorists” who are “holding us hostage” with “bombs strapped to their chest.” 

And then, when Mr. Harwood mentioned that Wall Street, i.e. the stock market, was taking the government shutdown calmly, the President actually complained about it.  He seeks problems in the stock market so he can blame it on the Republicans.  The President responded to Mr. Harwood, “No, I think this time is different, they should be concerned.”  In other words, it’s just fine and dandy with Mr. Obama if the stock market is in an upheaval and millions of Americans lose money because of it.  No problem, as long as it advances his political agenda.  With Barack Obama everything is politics.  Nothing is about the good of the country.

But, make no mistake about it, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama would not be making such outrageous statements, and issuing such personal attacks if they did not think they are losing this debate.  The Republicans are willing to negotiate.  The President is not willing to negotiate.  They lose that argument every time.  Americans expect fairness, and when one party won’t negotiate, they see that as unfair.

My best guess is that since the entire apparatus of the new Obamacare online system has broken down the President will use it as an excuse to postpone enrollment for six months or a year.  He never will, of course, admit that the GOP won, but it will be their victory.  It will be yours and mine too.

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