As the should-have-been scandal of the administrations illegal wiretapping policy wanes, as our government proceeds to contract out the construction of new, large-scale detention centers (apparently in preparation for a large influx of immigrants…?), as the right of whistle-blowers or dissenters in the administration (and elsewhere) to criticize our government is called into perilous legal question…I find myself more and more concerned with questions of where national (and personal) security ends and personal liberty begins. It seems that this is a question which should be uppermost in the minds of all Americans, as we tread into an age where the potential for extreme government monitoring and control is more technically possible, and apparently more desired, than ever before. And yet I find in casual conversation that very few citizens are concerning themselves with this vital issue. The attitude that the government will make the decisions which will best care for us is pervasive, and the notion that it is every citizen’s obligation to monitor and influence the government is outdated, perhaps treasonous. From it’s inception, however, our nation has been founded on the assumption that informed and active involvement in our government is every citizen’s obligation. The founding documents of our government worked hard to indicate that this was a government designed to be created and maintained by the people. It was not to become a monster controlling and directing the lives of its citizens for its own benefit. Hence the electoral process. Hence the “checks and balances” that we heard so much about in school. Hence the Bill of Rights. We hear much these days about the possibility of things being “unconstitutional”, but does anyone even remember the Constitution?
In the name of trying to revive interest in a crumbling concept, I would like to explain very simply what our government was meant to be and discuss the arguments which the current administration uses to justify its departure from those original ideals. I would like to bring to the notice of the public that this is, as Abraham Lincoln so famously said in 1863, a government of the people, for the people, and by the people, and that such a system depends upon the involvement of those who allow themselves to be governed, if it is not to perish from the earth.