The past week was pregnant with omens for those of us who fear the permanent estrangement of a people from the magnificent experiment in liberty their founders created for them. The fragile nature of our experiment, a means of societal empowerment in which the free will of a people is balanced by the order of measured laws, has finally become visibly shaky. Though multiple somewhat disparate events came together to paint a picture of distress, the final framing was achieved by the President, the chief law enforcement official of the United States, suggesting the only thing separating him as a black American from a racially profiled shooting and a miscarriage of justice was three decades of life. Three more years of such leadership, and we can remove the uncertainty as to the great experiment’s final extinction.
The first of the peals of thunder was the declaration that the once great American metropolis of Detroit was going to file for bankruptcy. A half century ago Detroit stood as a colossus of cities, home to hundreds of thousands of jobs building the premier implement of personal freedom, the automobile, flush with the highest standard of middle class living in the world. Fifty years of one party government and unionized monopoly in city services and education, and city now finds itself with one third the population, a horrid crime and murder rate, a collapse of available services, an almost 50% functional illiteracy rate, miles and miles of abandoned capital in shuttered homes and businesses, and a suicidal governance that still manages to spend a hundred million dollars a year more than it takes in in revenue. The final nail in the bankruptcy coffin is a common story, the governmental class securing for themselves gold plated pensions and health benefits that swallow up essentially all the available tax base, with hardly any thing left for essential role of city government, police and fire, snow removal and sewer maintenance, and no hope to fund future needs. Is this the distortion of a republic or the corruption of a democracy? It is very much the synthesis of both, as the key feature of contract between the governors and the governed, the integrity of the compact and the respect for its institutions and laws, has been lost.
The second wave of disturbance was the testimony of IRS officials before Congress that indicated that everything put forth by the executive branch thus far in the scandal has been a deceit. From the initial claim that the apparent coercive efforts of the IRS to suppress grass roots political groups they saw as a threat to the President’s election were driven by a few rogue agents in Cincinnati, to the farcical claim that the extra scrutiny was equally applied to all political groups equally, the testimony showed a ugly laceration across the chest plate of equality under the law and a government without prejudice. Forty years ago, the idea that the executive branch would interpret the President’s will as a ticket to intimidate American citizens was an impeachable offense. Now, a direct line of command from a political appointee of the president is secure to the offense, and the media projects a collective yawn. The evidence is growing of a direct White House effort to use the powerful enforcement arms of the executive branch to manipulate the national election to their favor, a direct assault on the constitution they were sworn to uphold. Darker clouds can not role across the compact a government holds with its people.
Finally, one of the great triumphs of a free people, the right to trial by a jury of peers with a presumption of innocence was put forth for all to see in Florida, and the result was viewed not as a celebration of the magnificence of such a process denied to so many people throughout history, but rather a hysterical denial of the justice obtained. The Bill of Rights secures for every citizen in the Sixth Amendment the right to an impartial process without the intimidation of the governing class:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense
The Zimmerman trial offered all Americans to see the process in all its glory, the presentation of evidence, the burden of the prosecution to identify the perceived offense beyond a reasonable doubt, and the care to allow the jury to deliberate without prejudice or intimidation. The President had a perfect opportunity to celebrate the protections the unique American judicial system offers all Americans. Instead he found a need to demagogue the issue and incite the development of a myth of injustice and racism where by all accounts of those who watched the trial, there was none. It was a pion to the mob mentality, that asks for a premeditated justice, a bias for a perceived outcome to assuage a perceived cultural disadvantage. It fed into the national consciousness that once again the system of principled laws was at fault, not the actions of the individuals. To a progressively civically illiterate population this is becoming easy to believe.
A once great city collapses on its own hubris. A government intimidates and manipulates its own citizens to secure its permanence. An impartial ruling of law is attacked as a miscarriage. Like a terminal disease slowly sapping the strength of the body, the outer edifice still superficially appears to stand, but progressively feels the tiredness and incapacity. America with so many strengths of foundation, is experiencing the death of nations, and the government sworn to diagnose and defend against threat, is instead helping to plan its funeral.