Maggie’s Notebook, posted an article written by Jim Simpson about the troubles that An Inconvenient Truth filmaker, Al Gore has been running into with the inconsistencies of his positions and his own lifestyle. This will not comment about those as they are becoming more well known, but the area it does shed light upon is the growth of accountability and the “need” government and the holders of powers now need to demonstrate based upon the wealth of information available to the people.
Knowledge is a good thing, and its a dangerous thing, particularly to those in power. A knowledge about the factors which make up policy, or the decisions which were until now made behind the closed doors in the smoky backrooms of politicians now have the very real possibility of being opened up and having the wind of truth break through them. This is true whether it involves public awareness of the practices of the aformentioned former VP, or the current probing of the activities of the Attorney General, much of which gained its impetus from the power of bloggers. While this trend may hurt the toes of people we may admire and whose views we may support, the trend is a positive thing in our society as it will now cause government to act in an open and candid way to those who put them into power, the people.
One of the foundations of our form of government, participative democracy rests in our own Declaration of Independence. Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. As a people, we must never lose sight of that guiding principal. It is that understanding that protects all of us from the sum of all free mankind’s fear, despotism. Too often, it is seen as a sign of good citizenship to follow the holders of power and give them a sense of carte blanche to legislate and to bring into action by Executive power policies that negatively impact those who in a democracy have the final say, the people. Al Gore, like President Bush is suffering at this time from inconvenient doses of democracy, and this is a healthy process even if it may cause pain. Pain is a sure sign that one is alive, even if under duress.
Too often government has treated the citizenry as if they are the parents and we, the people, are the uninformed and unruly children, who must be fed truth in simplistic well crafted doses to protect us from ourself. While there is a need for government to guard the nation’s well being, indeed that is a vital part of the Oath of Office, the danger for the citizenry, and in the end for the Republic, is that people remember their vital role in the maintainance of the balance of power between government and the governed. At what point does the interests of national security outweigh the right and the need to know the issues facing our nation? At what point does the term national security become a farce, if the prime element of participative democracy is stolen from the people by those who are elected into government office. What type of national security is found in a government that would be duplicitous in its engagement of the truth to the people?
This healthy dose of skepticism is not needed when the party of one’s affinity is not in power, but more when it is in power. For in that time the human tendancy to let little incursions into the principals set forth by our Founding Fathers of self-governance, and the responsibility of the citizenry to be the protectors of democracy from their own government if needed, are at that their most urgent. It is too easy to go with the flow, and let those we agree with in principal, run roughshod over the founding elements of freedom, which make this nation the great nation it has become.
This is not to say one must always agree with the critics, but one must be vigilant of ceding their responsibility as citizens to hold the government to heel, and to remind them, that the consent of the governed is the only moral authority that cedes power in our Republic, and if we hold our Declaration and Constitution to be true, the only basis of moral authority of government for mankind. It is not improper for Americans to be distrustful of governments or institutions which would shackle others in bondage of servitude to an ideology other than the will of the people.
If those in government would wish to govern over us, it would best be reminded that some Americans understand and value the history of our Republic. This message needs to be broadcasted to the present Administration and to all of those who would follow in its wake in the ’08 elections. Americans must never accept a view of blind obedience and doggerel submission to Legislative and Executive authority. The inconvenient dose of democracy handed to those in power by the free expression of dissent and the sharing of factual information does much to guarantee this nation will not disappear into the hell known as secret government.