As Independence Day nears, it’s a good time to reflect on that ideal - on liberty and the meaning of representative government, particularly as it operates here.
Numerous local campaigns are underway, and politicians of all stripes will vie for votes promising to “protect” every aspect of modern life for us - health, safety, and welfare. Some campaign promises will likely include pledges to protect the world from us. Will protection include safekeeping citizens liberty? Likely few candidates will willingly address the growing reach and imbalance of the local administrative state, and how that impacts freedom. Even the best-intentioned may find themselves veering away from the topic, worried that standing up for freedom will be interpreted as radical.
Our forefathers suffered prolonged distress and oppression at the hands of a king at a time when power was centralized, and top-down hierarchy was the norm of social order. The will of “the people” was an irritant, and loyal subjects had no choice but endure the indignities of subservience. The power of the state was absolute, and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were vulnerable to the whims of local magistrates and bureaucracies. Freedom was limited to permissions. [Does this ring any bells?] And measures to maintain the king’s central order carried the weight of the crown, without regard to rights or the burdens carried by the “governed.”
The nation’s founders, early classical liberals, dared to rebel when talk of liberty sent upstarts to the gallows. The colonials fought, somehow prevailed, and the rest as they say “is history.” Every 4th of July flags wave, and we celebrate living in the land of the free.
How much of the founding Liberty that Lincoln spoke of is still relevant? Has the protection of our freedoms become passe' now, if that duty is considered at all? Perhaps some rights should be forfeited to achieve bureaucratically controlled designs to achieve community “visions” of progress. And perhaps we should accept that our private property is a "natural resource" that the state and county should manage. NOT. Much of this new local "governance" smacks of dominion, not far from the ham-fisted control that infuriated colonials.
While politicians walk in local parades this week surrounded by flags, touting American beliefs, conviction to freedom may not stir in their hearts. The idea that “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth” may seem laughable and hackneyed. "Get with the program, times have changed. Polls confirm what the people want, which is holistic and sustainable community management."
We have a county executive who promised he wouldn't “be ideological,” but goes whole hog for this stuff. Following suit, candidates left and right scramble to avoid the issue of rights as they fit into the big picture. Have the foundations of representative democracy become vestigial, given the local political climate? WE feel that top-down bullying and magisterial orders feel like a yoke. Mountains of bureaucratic dictums and regulation should not incapacitate the flexibility and wisdom of the people to manage their lives, businesses, homes, and farms. The "the private sector" must not be considered the government's oyster.
WE are not in bad company. Here’s a quote written by the Supreme Court that’s only a few days old:
“The essence of democracy is that the right to make law rests in the people and flows to the government, not the other way around. Freedom resides first in the people without need of a grant from government.”
Those words were published in Washington DC on June 26th in regard to state initiatives. It’s something of a national shame that the statement was written in a Supreme Court dissent (Case 12-144).
Four justices that some would expect not to agree did agree about “these truths.” (Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Alito and Sotomayor) So, the principles of liberty still rattle in a few highly placed heads, just as these important concepts remain central to our state and federal constitutions. But how functionally important are liberty concepts here, in this county?
Too often in the hallowed halls of the Whatcom County courthouse it's said that “people need to give up some rights” for the greater good. Really? Should that ever be necessary, much less permissible? And we hear that "anything not permitted isn't permitted." Government is taking our rights, and selling them back to us as permits! How does that "square" with the Supreme Court statement above?
This area's bureaucrats assume a prostrate position when interpreting federal and state dictums, particularly any dictum that comes with grant funds tied to its tail.
Instead of the state having to prove that some problem or nuisance has occurred, citizens are asked to “prove” that future activity will do no harm. Precautionary principle trumps constitutional principle. Our local guilty until proven innocent regulations and restrictions about "community resource protection" turn justice itself on its head.
He and his county department heads don't seem overly fond of Council scrutiny. Recent moves were made to expand administrative latitude to simplify (avoid) council's informed review and consent of spending decisions, "for efficiency." Uh-huh.
WE dislike the notion that kingly power, or godfathers, should dominate representative government. Legitimate power "rests in the people." Here's to honest self-governance, open and accountable.
This nation once confronted a king, declaring
- He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. (See Executive appointments and advisory committees, plus other favored "partners" and special "teams".)
- He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. (Remember this, with it's educational goal being "give in".)
- He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; … in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. (Promoting that Whatcom County should go along with outside control and interests, like the WIT - and this outside "integration" isn't going away.)
WE thought this was supposed to be a free country. We feel the people deserve better than to be "managed." We're citizens, not subjects.