Monday, March 31, 2014

What happened to a government of laws, not of men?

Squishiness on the subject of immigration enforcement is now ecumenical, with Democrats lauding more foreigners because of their propensity to support the party line, and establishment Republicans throwing in with big businesses drooling over the cheap labor pool (the latter case being an excellent example of the Leninist observation about the rope and the last capitalist).

So both political parties share responsibility for the lax enforcement of our immigration laws, in that the present administration has been emboldened by their posturing to ignore them. I don’t know to what extent this policy approach has yet provided material assistance to the Democratic party, or fatter margins to big businesses, but it does look like we’re in for a bit of crime wave:
President Obama’s Department of Homeland Security caught then released 68,000 aliens who had previously been convicted of a crime, a new report from the Center for Immigration Studies shows.

The report, provided to Breitbart News ahead of its late Sunday evening release, reviews internal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) metrics to conclude that the Obama administration released 35 percent—or 68,000—convicted criminal aliens back into the U.S. general population when they could have been deported. “The criminal alien releases typically occur without formal notice to local law enforcement agencies and victims,” CIS’s Jessica Vaughan, the report’s author, added.
Leaving aside, for the moment, the potentially devastating impact that these criminals could continue to have on the lives of innocent citizens, let’s take a look at the broader political effect of a government that has decided to substitute rule by executive fiat for the written law.

The Obama administration has introduced selective enforcement of various laws, ranging from immigration to voting rights to health care, generally acting as if legislation is intended as mere advice from a mob of gawkers on the political scene rather than as the law of the land. The president and his minions, backed almost always and everywhere by the Democratic party – and occasionally aided and abetted, or at least enabled, without let or hindrance (depending on circumstances) by establishment Republicans - have taken this tack with decidedly partisan intent, as part of the overarching goal of strengthening the props under the “progressive” infrastructure they are trying to build in order to replace what they take to be the outmoded and extremely inconvenient constitutional structure of our republican system, along with its quaint assumptions of the primacy of individual liberty and the necessity of personal responsibility. In short, Obama, the Democrats and their fellow travelers have embarked on the path of revolution – bloodless and bureaucratic, to be sure, but a revolution nonetheless. And unlike our country’s original revolution, which was rooted philosophically in the struggle by colonists to retain historical rights that had been usurped or withdrawn by a distant, condescending and incompetent government, the one we are now encountering is a bizarre foray into reaction, wherein the government – not so distant, but certainly condescending and incompetent - is struggling to reimpose a meddlesome, paternalistic , centralized system upon the people in complete violation of their historical rights, and without even the tattered veil of mere legalism with which the ministers of poor George III attempted to justify the tyranny of his reign (a tyranny, by the way, that in most respects never came close to the level of social and political control contemplated by our home-grown progressives) . Obama’s wishes, whims and desires are the law, and the constitution and other forms of legislation might as well be so many brochures from vinyl siding vendors for all of the genuine influence they exercise upon this president.

There are two great dangers in this revolution from above. The first, of course, is the damage that Obama’s actual policies are doing to the U.S. both domestically and internationally. Domestically, he is pushing programs that throttle the economy and erode the vitality of the middle class, as well as – to get back to immigration, specifically – alter the demographics and the culture of our society in ways that make assimilation increasingly difficult due to the fact that there are fewer and fewer things that we all have in common, fewer and fewer truths that we hold to be self-evident. On the international stage, due to the naïveté and complete rudderlessness of the administration, we are distrusted by our allies and sneered at by our enemies, perhaps only one or two steps away from being compelled to follow the famous direction in The Winter’s Tale: “Exit, pursued by a bear”.

But there is another danger, more subtle yet just as corrosive as the damage being done directly by Obama’s overt actions. The president and his adherents are actively undermining respect for the law. Not just specific laws, but the concept of law, the idea of law as the distillation of justice and equity and rights in a form applicable to our daily lives and reliable as a guide to our future endeavors, the result of a deliberative process involving those men and women we freely choose to represent us in the ongoing effort to uphold a civil society dedicated to preserving the optimal balance between individual freedom and order. Obama is done with all of that. The law is no longer something that we have ourselves devised and entrusted to government stewardship with any reasonable expectation of fairness and accountability. To Obama and his ilk, law is a tool of ideology, the twin encouragements of stick and carrot to be applied in establishing the supremacy of the progressive gnosis, something that the federal government does for us (or, increasingly, to us), always and everywhere, of course, for “our own good”, whether we like it or not. The law is now simply the expression of personal power.

And how long can a society stand when its own “elite” refuses to abide by the law? When the highest government officials commit lawless acts with impunity, does this not tend to wear down the ingrained lawfulness of the average citizen, in ways great and small? Leftists frequently like to characterize conservatives as extreme libertarians who cherish a return to some romanticized version of the old west, where men carried their freedom in their holsters. Wouldn't it be ironic if we do, indeed, wind up with a society along those lines because the High Sheriff decided that his tin star invested him with the divine right of kings?


JeffS said...

" When the highest government officials commit lawless acts with impunity, does this not tend to wear down the ingrained lawfulness of the average citizen, in ways great and small?"

I think we are already on the way towards that state of mind, Paco. And I don't mean states with "Stand Your Ground" laws, but places where elected officials conspire to break laws and tighten the screws on their constituents. For example, Senator Yee of California fame. Or the police officers who decide their badge and pistol are a ticket to wealth and power?

Corruption is contagious.

rinardman said...

These days, I feel like our country is the frog in the water slowly coming to a boil.

bruce said...

The US started as a sort of Hellenic Confederation like the one fought the ancient Persians, but now its become more like Rome, or even like ancient Persia.

A President VDH is needed to get things back in balance.

bruce said...

- it's

(dang I hate that!)

bruce said...

May I say as a foreigner that I've been very grateful for a century of Pax Americana/(on the Roman model).

But if the price to be paid for that is grave imposition on actual American citizens: that's too much to ask of anybody, and it leads nowhere too.

David Duff said...

I found this site via the good offices - and they don't come much better! - of:

By complete coincidence, just this morning I wrote in similar vein in a post headed:
"In which I both fear, and fear for, America"

Living on the other side of 'the pond' I wasn't sure if I was misinterpreting events but, alas, you confirm my worst fears.