(Abuse does not Negate Use)
I have received many e-mails after my last Gem State Patriot article about government corruption. I again state that a corrupt act may or may not be illegal. The danger is when the act benefits a politician, or an enterprise doing business with the government. A developer asking for a change in a zoning designation for a neighborhood—all that may be legal, but when such an action itself creates a loss of trust in the very institutions they are supposed to protect individual citizens, then frictions evolve between citizens and their representatives. When our representatives at all levels of government forget that the authority, they have to act on the citizens behalf, comes “from the consent of the governed” and not lobbyists or special interests, then we are well down the road to a corruptocracy. That consent requires a trust not only in the individuals representing us, but also in the process by which the business of the government is done. We then begin to understand that both process and people are corrupted when elected officials instead of being representatives—become FACILITATORS.
Like the Catholic Church and all organized religion where there has been a knee jerk reaction against all things “religious”, because of the sins and scandals caused by those holding positions of trust and especially by those holding ecclesiastical authority, the abuse of process in government is today taking center stage. Think of the Clinton Foundation, Attorney General Paxton in Texas, the abuses in trading securities by members of Congress and now The Biden Family syndicate’s alleged racketeering. All conspiracies and abuses of power, but not unique to those acting in Washington DC. or Texas. Smaller but just as damaging, corruption is occurring in our own State.
Good things like organized institutions—police, hospitals, schools, the church, can be abused and misused. The problem isn’t the institutions per se, but the abuse and scandal committed within their structures—by people. We should not get rid of these institutions because some people operating within them are corrupt, rather we work to get rid of the corruption. This is true for all organized institutions from the church to government, schools, hospitals, and private enterprises that are themselves not exempt from corruption.
Christ never promised a “perfect church”. Instead, he described it as “wheat and tares”. Even among the twelve Disciples there was Judas. Our Founding Fathers understood the nature of “original sin” and understood the propensity for all men to fall into corruption. They created with our constitutional system of checks and balances and Federalism a system where those being governed could control the various corruptions of government and non-government institutions. The system requires virtue and vigilance on the part of the people.
In 476 The Roman Empire collapsed. A political vacuum opened and there was great suffering and injustice. The only institution left standing to fill the breach was the church, but it too very quickly became corrupt. As Pope Gregory soon found out, when any institution takes on the role of temporal power it exposes itself to politics—and all its’ inherent evils—social climbers, power brokers, financiers, and those with their own individual and corporate agendas. When the church takes on the role of temporal “prince” it too becomes easily corrupted. Theocracy has never worked, and it never will. Only systems where citizens have “skin in the game” survive beyond a generation or two. There has never been a Marxist regime that has survived longer.
One last final point that is ever so true in our State. The most dangerous corruptions (legal and illegal) are often so subtle, opaque, and ubiquitous that they become a way of doing business. What started out as “lunch at the club” becomes the basis of a personal relationship that may include a campaign contribution with the promise of a future contract for a construction company. Going the other way, a city or state employee charged with regulating a certain industry may be given a future job in the private sector with the very company they are charged with regulating today. Just look at the march from the private sector to government positions and back again at the Department of Health and Welfare and several other various agencies.
It is not the institutions that are at fault. It is the people within those institutions that are abusing their privilege. WE must vote them out, but we must also call them out.
I truly believe that in Idaho most of our elected officials and public employees are like the majority of WE THE PEOPLE—virtuous, honest and well meaning. I do believe the process of governance in many cases is abused by people with less than altruistic motives who overtime— prolonged incumbency is a big problem, and by securing their positions with campaign funding many times from large corporations operating outside of their districts and the State, loose site of “the logs in their own eyes”.
Business as usual and mainstream conventional thinking about the role of institutions and the process of governance tend to be part of the background noise of life. If we remain blind to them and we don’t take the time and energy to evaluate them and point out the failures of “getting along to get along”, we will be too far down the trail of unaccountability to recover in my lifetime. By letting those who govern us, based on our own consent to be governed, and a complicit media, tell us what is “best for us”—the mask and jab, a mass transit node in our neighborhood, or the rights of the unborn, or the right of self-defense—individual or for our country, we are being less than “virtuous” ourselves.
As Benjaman Franklin said in 1776:
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”