Summary: One by one, our professions and institutions have failed us and the Republic. Under pressure their standards proved to be parchment barriers defending our liberty. Rightly so, since the Constitution stands upon its people’s love. When that fades nothing can prevents citizens from becoming subjects.
Will it be sufficient to mark, with precision, the boundaries of these departments, in the Constitution of the government, and to trust to these parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power? This is the security which appears to have been principally relied on by the compilers of most of the American constitutions.
But experience assures us, that the efficacy of the provision has been greatly overrated; and that some more adequate defense is indispensably necessary for the more feeble, against the more powerful, members of the government.
— James Madison, The Federalist Paper #48
We are alone, unorganized in the defense of the Republic. By now it’s obvious that both political parties have, in their different ways, been co-opted as agents of change by its enemies. Less recognized is that the professions — especially of police, military, law and medicine — have shown that they’ll do nothing as groups to defend the Republic. They’ll do nothing against their members that violate their standards in the service of our ruling elites and their government.Their grand ethical standards are, like the Constitution itself, just parchment barriers that mean nothing without the love of liberty in their members.
A few doctors help with torture. Their fellows do not shun them; medical associations do nothing. See More symptoms of decay: professional associations abandoning their standards and obligation to protect us, 4 May 2011.
Some attorneys write briefs justifying the most egregious violations of the law. Like John Yoo’s (Prof Law, Berkeley) justification of torture, illegal surveillance, and the almost unlimited expansion of executive power. And the still-secret briefs to Obama justifying assassination of US citizens without charge, trial, or verdict. For details see the links at Wikipedia. For an on-going justification of expanding government power by brilliant law professors, see the Volokh Conspiracy, where (usually; it’s a group blog) the only civil rights that count are those about property or personal behavior (ie, who you screw) — otherwise it’s yo government! all the way.
As for the police — increasingly armed, trained, and acting like soldiers (see Randy Balko‘s articles at Reason), acting to oppress the poor and protestors — many have moved to a space long distant from To Protect and Serve.
The big question remaining: how far will the military go? The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act (see Wikipedia for details) limits (but does not prevent) the US Army, Air Force, and National Guard actions in the US:
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.
Unfortunately that too has been eroded away, with slowly increasing military involvement in domestic affairs — especially in the aspects of the War on Terror touching US citizens. Perhaps before the end we’ll see how seriously they take their oaths. My guess (emphasis on guess) is that they’ll side with what they see as the national interest (as defined by our rulers) against the plain fact of the Constitution.
I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Does this sound exaggerated? We’re far enough into the evolution to a new regime so that experts can calmly announce the Republic’s death. Such as Eric Posner (Prof Law, U Chicago; bio here) and Adrian Vermeule (Prof Law, Harvard). For details see Conservatives tells us not to worry about the Constitution’s death, 23 March 2011.
The next step must to organize. It will be a long road to retake our institutions and reverse the damage done to the Republic.
And if unsuccessful, the Third Republic awaits in the future.
For More Information
- America’s Most Dangerous Enemy, 1 March 2006
- Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
- The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
- We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
- This crisis will prove that Americans are not sheep (unless we are), 8 January 2008
- About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep, 25 January 2009
- Are we citizens? Or peasants?, 21 May 2009
- A famous guest speaker visits the FM site to tell us that we are not weak — we are strong, 8 June 2008 — Patrick Henry
- A wonderful and important speech about liberty, 23 July 2009 — Judge Learned Hand
- Why the Turkey is not our national bird, and a reminder that America belongs to us, 26 November 2010