Remember that old Sonny and Cher song, “The Beat Goes On?” That song from the 60s illustrates the circle in which we find ourselves living. It’s almost like it’s a vicious cycle: we walk in the entrance, take a look around, then leave through the exit only to discover that from the exit we walk right back into the entrance.
Doesn’t that pretty closely mirror where we find ourselves in America today? I’m not saying things should remain the same at all, or that history should automatically repeat itself for things to be normal. What I am illustrating is that we often just don’t learn from our mistakes. And when we don’t do that, we’re doomed to repeat them, and “The Beat Goes On.”
The American ideal began with the People of the nation to actually create a nation:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
We got a good start: our forefathers made the trip over from Europe and settled in. They adopted the Constitution, implemented its elements into the government, and then just got after it. They thought they had done a really good and eternal thing: established a country and a government that was owned totally by the People.
Things went pretty well for a while. Then, people started getting in the mix with personal and political agendas, arguments about individual rights, states’ rights, Peoples’ rights, who was supposed to control what, and the disagreements began to escalate. Before long, the fighting began: not with other countries, but feuding with each other.
In the middle of those “growing pains,” they fought a few foreign foes. But the founders knew those conflicts with foreign enemies would be short-lived. They’d have to go back to deal with the same kinds of things that brought them and their families here in the first place: to escape the hunger and thirst for power and control by leaders in Europe. Early settlers ended in the same spot they were in that fueled their flight to the New World in the first place. “The Beat Goes On.”
They took the exit sign from Europe, came to America, and built their own building with an “Entrance” sign they all used. Fortunately, they did craft a good start. But they like we have today allowed all those “European things” that initiated their move to America to slip back in. And we still struggle and fight with them today.
No one in authority seems to care about taking the “Exit.”
Personal agendas of all kinds: social, political, economic, legal, ethnic, and religious. Our forefathers with the Constitution guaranteed that all of those things would be protected and would always be the sole property of the People: the first Ten Amendments called them “The Bill of Rights.” They found a way to establish and preserve in perpetuity the freedoms for individuals that they had never seen in Europe. It was brand new to the world.
But when they got inside, they quickly learned that freedom has never and will never live in a vacuum. Freedom requires People — a citizenry — to operate what is established as a framework within a society to successfully function. They must have thought that such a structure would be an automatic by-product of the Constitution. But they quickly discovered to operate and keep its structure intact would take much time, effort, and attention.
Doing that has been for more than 250 years a fulltime job. Enter the government! Congress makes the laws with which our society functions. The Administrative branch makes certain all of the plans and programs created by Congress are implemented and operated according to the wishes of Congress that are part of those laws. In the case of legal disputes that cannot be resolved person-to-person, the Judiciary comprised of various local, state, and federal courts will intervene in every type of dispute to reach a resolution.
For the most part, it has worked successfully — but not without factions and sects, groups and power brokers each taking sides, drawing lines in the sand, and getting embroiled in fights specifically for the objective to accumulate power through government over other people — their fellow citizens. That quest for power has consumed many just as it did several centuries ago in Europe. Today, it has swallowed-up leaders and even rank-and-file members of those three branches of government. The lust for power and control has put our nation at a tipping point. Many Americans question if our nation can survive an internal political and social implosion that most say certainly is pending.
I’m one of those who are uncomfortable with that feeling in my gut that says, “We may not make it through all this.” There certainly are plenty of optimists who disagree, citing the past history of winning war after war, surviving multiple disease epidemics, financial doom in the form of depressions and one Great Depression, civil unrest instigated by actions taken by our leaders, and even the assassination of presidents and civil rights advocates. There has just seemed to always be negative energy pulling the nation apart. And it’s reaching dramatic and critical proportions today.
Many Constitutional experts cry that the current onerous actions that were taken by local, state, and federal governments when they mandate stay-at-home actions that must be taken by their citizens are Unconstitutional. I don’t know of any court action has yet been initiated to fight such government mandates, but they are certainly on the way. Clouding that picture is the fact that Attorney General William Barr has offered something just shy of a “judicial opinion” that indicates the Justice Department, in the case of such a constitutional challenge by an American citizen, would probably argue on behalf of the American litigant.
Why would this or any other Justice Department make such a move? There is no Constitutional authority for a state or agency of the federal government to take such action. Defending Americans against unlawful abuses of power against individual rights are how Justice should be served.
Do you really think we’ll get to that point? Three years ago I would have probably laughed at such a ridiculous question. In today’s political environment that seemed to turn on a dime with the election of this President, I’m uncertain that we will NOT see it come to this. It is seldom that any U.S. Justice Department in the case of court challenges of actions taken by state or federal governments finds itself defending the person or entity filing the challenges. But, I don’t remember a case in which such actions by an American citizen were necessary.
One such similar case is on the horizon of this Justice Department. A Few months ago, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released three redacted opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (also known as the FISA Court) and the FISA Court of Review (FISCR). In the first opinion, the FISA Court held that the FBI’s procedures for accessing Americans’ communications that are “incidentally” collected under Section 702 of FISA violated both the statute and the Fourth Amendment. The government appealed, and in the second opinion, the FISCR upheld the FISA Court’s decision. The FBI was forced to revise its procedures to conform with the court’s ruling, and in the third opinion, the court approved the revised procedures. In that case, the government took-on the government on Constitutional grounds.
Have we gone that far in America? Is there no longer trust between the nation’s citizens and departments of its own government? It appears that it may be likely.
If it’s real, how did something like this get started?
All I can say is there has always been a slippery slope between democracy at the top of the hill with totalitarian government control at the bottom. That is because of the human factor — the lust for power and control.
People — even adults — are driven by self motives that almost always supersede a motive that more often than not leads Americans to always do the right thing: the “legal” or “constitutional” thing.
Remember this: governments are comprised of men and women. Though many would like to believe they’re bulletproof and exempt from personal feelings of self-fulfillment, lust, and greed, those feelings are always part of the human psyche. And they must always be dealt with.
Our forefathers through generations watched the tyranny of power destroy every personal institution of individuals and families throughout Europe as despotic leaders steadily marched nations toward totalitarian rule. Even after the American settlers left, that European lust for power created the likes of Stalin, Lenin, Mussolini, and Hitler. In those oppressive communities, the value of individuals was summarily dismissed or destroyed by rabid power brokers in leadership in those countries.
That was nothing new in the world. Through centuries the same or similar actions have been taken again and again.
Where are we today in this cycle? That’s a good question. One thing IS certain: we are somewhere in that process. We’re either headed for the Entrance or we’re headed for the Exit. Unfortunately, our leadership is so fragmented today, many cannot tell the end from the beginning or the entrance from the exit. But we MUST make that determination and follow the leadership that will guide us back to that right track our forefathers created and put us on in the 1700s.
The words to that song are NOT prophetic and certainly not guaranteed. At this point, I’d love to say I’m confident we’ll get through the exit and right into the entrance back to that leadership “of, for and by the People.” But I’m not so sure today’s political party that is running with no caution toward that giant of totalitarianism will allow us to leave the circle.
Look around and take stock: what do you see today?
In closing, click on this: