Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Delay is only part of the problem...

GOP Agenda Being Obscured by Crackpots

I hate to revert to name calling, as I don't believe it actually strengthens one's argument, but rather belies an emotional under current that may blind the author to more reasoned, and more persuasive language. But I just can't seem to get my mind around the 'family values' crowd who are advocating (at least) the gutting of the judiciary branch and (at most) the establishment of a "Christian" theocracy in the United States.

It's often said that democracy is the worst system of government save all others, and nothing could be more true. Our system is not perfect, but over the long haul it trends to fairness and justice. As a student of the law, I've been most impressed by the continuing effort by justices at all levels, to find the appropriate balance between issues of freedom and equality, privacy and disclosure, and government power and autonomy. It's an intricate debate that I wish I could convey to you instantly in a link or something. This balance has been played out in precedents set out in federal and court decisions over a period of nearly 200 years.

Are the courts always right? No, they are human institutions and as such will manifest the same human failings that plague all other institutions. But no branch of government has the capacity to approach the myriad of individual disputes, and apply a consistent, yet flexible out come, as the legal system in the United States (and Britain, Canada, and Australia)....And even on the worst day, I'd take my chances in court, rather than have my personal dispute handled by politicians.

Even worse is the call from the haters of our judicial system that we need to adhere to a higher law. This 'natural law' argument has deep roots, and was the primary justification for the Declaration of Independence. The use of natural law, was a device by which to argue a contrived legal basis for our separation from England. It's evoking a higher power led an air of credibility to an act that otherwise was on shaky legal footing. And don't be fooled by the frequent references to God in our countried governing documents. The Founding Fathers were products of the age of reason, which was sharply critical of religion and embraced principles of science, reason, and logic. But they were shrewd and knew that evoking these concepts would help transmute their reasons for independence to a larger audience.

But as noble and eloquent as the use of natural law concepts were by the Founding Fathers, we should make no mistake that it is the language of revolution and its results have not always been as enlightened. This same concept of a 'higher' law is the basis for Islamic-fundamentalist dictatorships that once thrived in Afghanistan and still oppress peoples in Saudi Arabia, Iran and other nations. At its worst, natural law, is the higher power who precepts can only be interpreted by the priests, mullahs, mandarins or others. As we've seen with this whole culture of life silliness it is far from consistent. (e.g.- Life is sacred and the govt. shouldn't have the power to take it, unless of course the life is that of a convicted criminal-even if a child, a suspected terrorist, native American school children or more lately, the so called activist judges.)

Which gets us to the general issue of the separation of Church and State. It was put in our constitution, not to protect government from religion, but to protect religion from government and the inevitable ugliness of politics that are inherent to governing.

These folks should not be silenced however. Their ideas, as they are shouting them out so bitterly lately, should be given a full hearing. I think what they will find is that most Americans, while embracing God (in whatever form), don't want James Dobson or Phyllis Schafley making decisions on who they can marry, if they can have access to birth control, if a single parent can hold a government job, and if a jury of their peers, rather than a council of elders...can assist them in deciding disputes.

The GOP has squandered four years of power catering to these folks, but there is still time for them to leave a positive imprint on this country in terms of lessening government power, balancing the budget, reforming immigration, fixing social security and spreading democracy and freedom. The problem is that they have yet to focus on their strengths.

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