To the editor:
Human history has taught us that "the government is like a roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour." Left unchecked we all become slaves to the whims of the few.
"Government" is not some nebulous entity that exists by itself. Government is "people" and therein lies its flaw. Simply put, people are human and humanity is flawed. Jealousy, envy, strife, pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, vanity, and sloth are at the core of the problem. Our founders saw these things in real time and were determined to, as much as possible, set the new country on a foundation that took these human flaws into account.
If you think that I am overstating what the government actually is or does, think on this: The government can take your land, your house, your children, your livelihood and your life. It can take your freedoms away or restrict the freedoms you have. The power that government obtains can corrupt it, to its very core. That is my analogy.
So, what prevents the government from doing this? The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written with the intent of keeping the government in a cage, so to speak. The right to vote is the first, primary and nonviolent tool citizens have to constrain government. The "people" have a right and an obligation to ensure that its government stays in the cage.
To his credit Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas understood this very well. "The Constitution is not neutral," he remarked, "It was designed to take the government off the backs of people."
What enables the government to do these things? Basically, it is possible when ordinary citizens become dependent on that government. When citizens become complacent and no longer participate in the political process. The herd mentality is another way for citizens to surrender their individual rights and obligations to the government. Democrats and Republicans voting the party line are but one example.
Government relies on its power to coerce those it employs to enforce its will on you. It can be the IRS, FBI, CIA, EPA, HHS, DHS or the ATF to name a few. Peer pressures within government agencies motivates as well. These individuals do not mind if they violate your rights as long as they keep their paychecks coming. During the Nuremberg trials of German officers after WWII, the officers made the excuse that they were "just following orders." The excuse was not accepted then and it should not be accepted now.
Our freedoms and rights are slowly being taken from us. The government hopes you will not notice or are too busy to notice. Like the analogy of the frog in the pot on the stove, they turn up the heat slowly lest you get too uncomfortable and protest. The saying that "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" has always been true since the dawn of mankind. It is true today as it was then.
When a politician violates his/her oath of office, lies, misleads, dupes, or otherwise corrupts the office they hold, they must not be re-elected. If possible, they should be recalled, impeached or forced to resign.
Ordinary citizens can make a difference, but only if they become involved in the political/election process by being educated, informed and active. Freedom is always a fleeting proposition. It requires constant vigilance. It can disappear overnight. There are those who would take it from you, if they could.