The Rule of Law
Last week, I published an article discussing the liberty of security, and how that issue that mattered so much to the Founding Fathers might be of rising importance today. While I wish to retract nothing from that piece (not much has changed in a week’s time), I think it would be prudent to temper it with some arguments that will perhaps clarify some possible conclusions that might be drawn from my previous post.
Recently in Egypt, the military staged an effective coup in an attempt to calm unrest regarding the performance of President Morsi. This will bring about the third government the Egyptians have had in as many years. All of this before the much celebrated constitution was even fully implemented. Massive protests were launched about a year after Morsi was elected. These developments make one thing clear: The Egyptian people have no vocabulary for a free, western style government. They understand forceful rule and little else. If a freely elected government operating under republican principles does not work a miracle within its earliest days, then it should be rejected in favor of the type of authority that was recently the target of the Arab Spring.
It is no secret that the situation is a little bit different in the United States. Though time and time again the government may act against some of our wishes, the answer is never to take to the streets and demand its overthrow. No, though protests are popular and a sign of a healthy society, the goal of these marches is to change the minds of those in power or to show support for some cause.
At certain times the situation may look grim in America. Perhaps grimmer than can be remembered by any still living. Maybe the US people will be forced to live under a government that makes one question whether or not those in power have any respect for the principles on which the country was founded. Say, hypothetically, the government decides to launch a program that spies on the most intimate details of each of its citizen’s lives. Should the answer then become a call for more wide sweeping reforms, perhaps to the degree of resisting the government?
While other countries have systems in which the people have little, if any, recourse in the case of wrongdoing on the part of the government, America is different. Though every new revelation concerning the government may seem blacker than the one preceding it, none of this is irreversible. Has the free election of members of Congress ceased? No. Has the free election of the leader of the executive branch ceased? No. Have any constitutional amendments been passed, cementing current overreaches into likely unchangeable law? No. Come what may, the people still have their voice, and will continue to have it unless major, surely unpopular and easily recognized changes take place.
The American Revolution was started when the rule of law in the colonies was no longer the driving principle of governmental authority. The Founders framed a Constitution that ensured that the law, not any man or group of men, would become the ultimate, final ruler. This is still the case. It may seem that some of those in power have little regard for the law, but every couple of years, the people still have the opportunity to fire them. This is the way America works, and it is they way it will continue to work.
All of this is not say that I necessarily agree with the recent actions of the government or that I do not share in the outrage felt by many of us. I feel that it is more important now than ever at any point in our country’s history to seek out the counsel of the Founders. But I also feel that this is best done by honoring and promoting and utilizing the government they installed and not reverting to the tyranny of mob rule experienced by so many around the world.