Sir John Dalberg-Acton was a 19th Century English-Catholic historian. He is perhaps best known for the remark, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…”
That is one of the greatest arguments for limited government, and governmental powers. Throughout time, Dalberg-Acton’s observations have proven true. No matter how well-intentioned men may be when they seek power, and especially political power, when that power has been given to them, it corrupts them in some way.
There must be something so insidiously delicious and seductive about power that men and women will forfeit honor and integrity once power has been vested in them. They will deny all manner of previous viewpoints they held and statements they have made. And, in the last four years, I have watched the DC Swamp jump through hoops to try to justify their apparent forfeiture of the beliefs that got them elected or appointed.
Therein lies the greatest danger to our Republic. The power in this country–by design, and after great sacrifice–was vested in the people of the United States. We are the source of power, and those who serve us are intended to answer to us.
At times we the people have vested greater power in the hands of Washington politicians and civil servants because of some catastrophe globally where we felt we needed to give them more authority, and to do it quickly.
That, in and of itself, is not an issue. Certainly, we would likely agree that after Pearl Harbor, the powers given to Congress and the President etc. were a necessary evil. 9/11 is another case where we empowered our President to wage war. That attack and threat was apparent to all of us.
What we did not really think through, however, was the fact we also gave our government the power to set up secret courts in order to obtain warrants to electronically spy on our countrymen. If each of those warrants had been properly sought, and no one’s rights had been violated, we the people would not be in turmoil over the last four years about what is now emerging factually as an abuse of power by the outgoing administration against the incoming administration.
Cover-ups and abuses abound. People will yell, they will shrilly deny, they will justify in the coming weeks in the Senate Hearings, and in the actions forthcoming related to the Durham criminal investigation. That’s natural. After all, we gave some very brazen and arrogant men and women power over us. They corrupted it, became corrupt–and now refuse to give the power back. The nectar of power and control over their fellow countrymen seems to have addicted them.
Sadly, something far more ominous is hanging over us relevant to Dalberg-Acton’s observation. During this pandemic, we–in order to save ourselves and others–gave almost complete authority to our state and federal governments. We felt we needed them to take control, and order us into actions that would be good for all. Hopefully history will record that our cessation of almost all of our First Amendment rights was warranted–that we did the right thing. We harmed the many to save the few.
What history will not record kindly is if our governments never give that power back. Even when the crisis abates, or disappears altogether, we are discovering that some state leaders and federal leaders are loath to relinquish the control they have over our entire future and security. Frankly, we are going to have to pry that power out of their tightly clenched fists. (Electorally)
You may be in a quandary about how this beneficent leader of your city or your state could turn into a dictatorial tyrant, hell-bent on forcing you to bend to their agenda and will–even if it destroys your life and livelihood. You may agree with them. I am aware of that.
Regrettably though, someone like me is going to eventually have to come to rescue you and our countrymen from the clutches of the new tyrant. You thought Covid-19 was a menace?! You thought it threatened your life?! It did.
But, my friends, we all had better wake up. Because in order to handle that biological menace, we created a new one: politicians with more power than they have EVER had over you. I am by nature an eternal optimist. In this matter though, I know history, and I know men. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Put every single one of those 5 freedoms I wrote about a few weeks ago back in place, before you no longer can. Ask the people of Venezuela if they expected what they got when Chavez died and the new elected fool took office. Ask the people of Hong Kong if they expected what happened to them yesterday.
The power rests with “we the people” and spread out through our whole society no one man or group can gain the monopoly on it. Hard to corrupt 350 million Americans of diverse background, races, ethnicities, education, careers, religions etc.
An unwieldy bunch, we Americans. Perhaps that is key as to why this nation has prospered for so long, and helped so many other nations to prosper.
Pry their little fingers loose–one control at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time until your freedoms are fully restored. You can do it. I may not have faith in bureaucrats, but I have always had faith in the American people.