top of page

4: Leviathan has a voice

We live in a large, beautiful constitutional republic. Federal government authority exists for the sole purpose of performing the duties specified in the constitution. All other decisions, duties, and laws come from the states and localities. If the federal government oversteps, the states can get together (Constitutional Convention) and update the contract between the federal government and "the people", as represented by their states.

I will admit to not having thought much about this until around 2010. Our government gets a little bigger each year. Different departments add a few regulations to keep us safe from a wide range of risks, such as exploding vehicles, rotten meat, and bad medical practices. Sometimes we need a larger defense budget, sometimes not. Sure, there's a few hundred programs we could likely eliminate with almost zero impact on our fellow citizens, but, well, it is what it is, as they say.

To say I was disappointed after the 2008 election is to understate the situation. First, there was the heart-stopping $787 billion stimulus. I understand the need for expanded unemployment benefits during recessions, and perhaps small business credits. However, this looked like a large political payout to his allies around the country. He also did not seem concerned about waste. You may recall Solyndra, which received government-backed loans for $535 million, built huge facilities, lied to the Department of Energy, and cost the taxpayers $400 million.

However, there were more frightening activities afoot. Gibson Guitars was raided by a unit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The CEO of Gibson was a contributor to Republican causes. The company was raided and shut down for an investigation. The company was not allowed to see the sealed warrant (according to Human Events) that authorized the raid. This looked like a political hit job, in public, against a political enemy of the administration. It was likely an attempt to intimidate others (and put on notice). This blatant lack of due process against citizens of our own country, and the partisanship of it, awoke many Republicans. When Dinesh D'Souza was sentenced to eight months in a confinement center for a relatively minor campaign finance infraction, it was further confirmation that there are two tiers of justice. Grass roots organizations around the country (Tea Parties) rose up to fight for the rule of law, with a focus on fighting government intrusion into the private sector, immigration, and taxation.

I believe that's when people started to notice (en masse) that the government sees itself as a separate entity. Our government only exists because of the consent of the governed. This consent means we allow our federal government to live within the rules we the people create. We the people, in that sense, are the government. The social contract is the US Constitution at a federal level.

Sometimes, though, the state tells us what it really thinks. Obama mentioned that, if you are a small business owner, successful, sacrificing blood, sweat and tears to build a life for yourself, "you didn't build that". He was being direct: the federal government builds the roads, the financial infrastructure, the security, and the laws that allow you to operate successfully. He was, in my view, vilifying the very people who create the tax revenue, hire employees, vote in elections, and build the communities in which they live. He was giving the impression that we should feel grateful and beholden to a ruling class that creates all these items.

For me, though, the theme was "us" and "them". The government was its own entity, which exists to protect itself. This is similar to how people interpret the Hobbesian Leviathan system of government. I am by no means a scholar, but the basic tenet is that we should democratically submit to a ruling class that will protect us from our natural, fighting state. We need to be controlled, and we all must understand that. I'm not suggesting that I realized that point of view existed in our government at the time, but it was the opening volley on the topic.

Lois Lerner, according to lawmakers, used her position to "improperly influence IRS action against conservative organizations..." This was another in the long line of actions and statements from the Obama administration that showed the American people that the levers of power will be used, publicly, against political enemies. It is a shortcoming of our system that the Attorney General is an administration appointee. While the person must be approved by the Senate, there is little accountability once that is finished. Lois Lerner was not charged by the Eric Holder DOJ. Of course, I have no better ideas on how to enforce the law consistently.

Add in the hush-hush around what happened about Bengazi, and the Uranium One scandal, whereby, according to Peter Schweizer in his book about the Clintons, the State Department (and others) approved the transfer of 20% of the United States uranium supply to Russia. Oh and many investors allegedly contributed to the Clinton Foundation ($145 million). Russia, the country we are now fighting in Ukraine. Again, the theme of our government as a separate entity enlarging its monopoly and power over we the people.

It turns out, I was not alone. A growing number of citizens were realizing that our country was moving away from the rule of law. Our system works when everyone is a good actor, not corrupted nor nefarious. While we have checks and balances, accountability takes a long time, and is often unsatisfying when it does occur. That's what elections are for.


bottom of page