The quaint and seemingly all but forgotten tenet of this great government as penned by Lincoln nearly a century and half ago appears to have been relegated to the sole purview of history students. “… that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” may be on the verge of doing just that – perishing from this earth.
This threat is long in coming. It didn’t start with 9/11, or even from the usual suspects of enemy states such as the former Soviet Union. The danger has been evident for quite some time. The patient is perishing, and no one can say that we have not been repeatedly warned.
President Hayes wrote “This is a government of the people, by the people and for the people no longer. It is a government by the corporations, of the corporations, and for the corporations.” President Eisenhower’s admonition to guard against the “military- industrial complex” was a stark wakeup call to the people that they best be careful lest they loose all honorable influence in their government. And more recently is the formulation of the “iron triangle” used to symbolize the impenetrable nefarious relationship between the legislature, the bureaucracy and special interest groups.
These warnings have proven to be prophetic. Irrespective of who or what is in power – there is no difference between republicans or democrats in this regard – big business commands the legislature and the courts. Corporations have near total influence at all levels of government. They write the laws, set policies and feed them to their financial beneficiaries (the politicos) so that the avalanche of capitalism sloshes unimpeded. The American public is part co-conspirators, part victims, and all along for the ride.
Our rights have been hijacked and therefore been relegated to well behind those of big business.
Since many argue that corporations work in our interests (they don’t, they work in their interests) then the general consensus is “so what?” But by citizens accepting the hijacking of their rights, they have opened the door to other hijackers not as seemingly benevolent. Corporations may be nice “neighbors”, but others not so ostensibly nice are following the model and taking our rights.
These new hijackers make no pretense of what they think of the common citizen. At least the corporations ran the ruse that what they did was for our own good (you know, like sugar-free sweetener because sugar is somehow bad for you, except that the sugar-free sweetener contains sugar, just in a quantity that by law does not require “sugar” to be printed on the label because the regulation that requires printing the content on the label was written by the same corporations that came up with the wile that sugar was bad for you). Those good ol’ days of being entertained by the farcical corporate rip-offs are now something we all wish for in dark contrast to the new hijackers.
These new hijackers feign no act to hide their contempt for you and me. They openly ridicule the citizens they don’t like. They publicly besmirch you, your reputation, your character, your beliefs and even your family. And worse, they will use the very same power of government that you have entrusted to them to punish you into capitulation, oblivion or prison.
These new hijackers are those that run our government.
Take the case of a city desirous in “selling” a landmark to a condo developer. A preservation group raised a ruckus and exercised their constitutional right to seek a redress. And the city’s response? A threat to sue the citizens! Sound familiar? You would think it’s the present governance on Marco Island reacting like they always react to someone that disagrees with them. But this time it’s from Natchez, Mississippi. Consider:
The city has reacted by threatening to file a countersuit against the citizens. The move is mostly a scare tactic, but alarming for its potential impact on citizens’ rights.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens’ right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Despite the 25-cent words that may seems foreign to our ears, that phrase is generally interpreted to mean that citizens have a right to take the government to court to settle a difference of opinion.
But the First Amendment doesn’t have a footnote that says, “but the big, bad government can sue you back.” Sadly, in Natchez the First Amendment seems to have grown that footnote. (Source: http://www.natchezdemocrat.com)
As those of us that dare to point out the transgressions of the present governance on Marco Island have learned, there is such a footnote to the U.S. Constitution. Read the just released transcripts of the secret City of Marco Island council meetings (links on this blog) if you have any doubts.
Yes, American history has some notable cases of government bodies going amok and persecuting their own citizens. But those were clearly exceptions, aberrations of the political landscape that in time ran their course. They were by no means emblematic of how a democratic society was run. They were not the de facto form of government and they did not boast of their abusive powers lest they be exposed.
They are now the norm. Today they are the abusive organs that have hijacked a government of the people by loathing the very people that they purportedly represent. Propagating fear and contempt is both popular and popularized. They are tightly knit groups acting tyrannically for self-serving reasons irrespective of the common good. Unalienable rights, federal and state laws are routinely subjugated under the cynical auspices of “home rule.”
Hence, we now have a government of the despots, by the despots and for the despots.
These potentate forms of government are far more insidious than the Americapitalism we have been subjected to for the past several decades. Though we have lost most of our influence in our representative bodies due to corporate power, at least Americapitalism has given us the technology and advances in many areas that have made our lives arguably better than those of our grandparents. There is no such upside to a government of the despots.
The good news is that we are all empowered to stop the nascent formal government of the despots. We have always had this power despite the never ending assaults on the citizenry. The problem has been and continues to be that the overwhelming majority of citizens have abdicated their responsibilities as citizens.
Stop giving up your rights. Ignore the despots and their venues – don’t worry about being left out – they’ll affect you soon enough. Petitioning a government of the despots is a humiliatingly futile masochistic undertaking. Highlighting the despots’ transgressions to the despots emboldens them and is complimentary to their ears while it’s a Sisyphusian exercise to your psyche. Seek a redress with outside agencies and branches of government. And when you are ignored or turned down or run into the bureaucratic morass of big government empowered by big business, decry the state of affairs and try again. Help those who have been wronged for it’s only a matter of time before despotism nails you. If you are ethical then you know that compromising one’s principles is no virtue. Seek justice at every turn lest you be denied same. Pearl Buck said it best: “When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail.”
Like big business before them, the despots are working the system every day, every minute, every moment as you wait for someone else to do something about it. If you don’t act now to thwart the hijackers of our basic rights, you will witness the government of the people, by the people and for the people perish from this earth right before your very eyes.