A broken oath and broken trustIt has always been my intent to levy criticism at public officials of both parties when I feel it is warranted. I say this because the editorial bent of my blog writing is well known, and there are many so-called conservative bloggers who pile heaps of critical venom at Democrats and liberals, but attempt to justify anything and everything that Republicans are doing, even when a policy is questionable. I try very hard to avoid this kind of philosophy in my writing, because I want everyone to know that I hold no double standards in what I believe. There is a time for everything, and this morning is a time to call the President of the United States to account.
Today’s edition of USA Today reveals that someone in the administration either deceived the President, or the President deceived the American people about the nature of the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program. We were told by both the President, as well as by the NSA that the phone surveillance the NSA has been utilizing applied only to those making outbound calls overseas. Today we learn that this is not only false, but that the NSA has access to the phone records of millions of Americans (nearly all of us) without a warrant, and with no real proof of just cause. The government is not just spying on terrorists; it is spying on you and me.
Were the political situation in our country reversed, and a Democrat occupied the White House, Republicans would be doing more than crying bloody murder-we would be saying that the man or woman at the top was nothing more than an authoritarian tyrant. I would fully expect that in that situation, our Party should behave in such a fashion. Does anyone wonder why it is that the administration has lost the confidence of so many conservatives? For years, so many of us railed against the Clinton abuses of power, and the abuses of power of the federal government in general. Images of Waco flashed in our minds, and I remember one of the favorite nicknames for the then-Attorney General in some conservative radio circles was “Janet Nero.” I thought it was justly deserved. Yet some of us will justify it when our government spies domestically on millions of innocent Americans without a warrant, in direct violation of the Constitution, merely because the political party we favor is the present party of power. I will not justify this-it is a gross abuse of power on a scale so vast that it would make the old Soviet leadership proud.
Some folks have bought into the bill of goods that we are “at war,” and so this sort of abuse is somehow justified. Convince me our country is on a wartime footing, and maybe you’ll convince me that there is some justification for an otherwise tyrannical act. We are being told we are at war, but the very soldiers in the field fighting that war can’t even get the equipment they so desperately need to be as safe as it is possible for them to be. Many of them have their families on public assistance because we do not pay them enough, and many more will not be given the quality of health care they earned by defending our country because VA funding was cut. Apparently, we can spend like gangbusters on every other federal program known to man (simply look at the growth of federal spending) but we can’t spend enough on our fighting men and women. We are supposed to be “at war,” and we are closing bases, cutting back on troop levels, and failing to provide adequate equipment. If this is war, I’d hate to see our level of readiness during peacetime.
The “at war” defense doesn’t work because the government has yet to act as though we really are at war. If it did so, our Armed Forces would get the pay and equipment they need, our military bases would stay open en masse, and our recruitment goals and troop levels would dramatically increase. That is not happening. War is being used as an excuse for this kind of abuse because war is the health of the state-war can be used to justify anything.
When the President took office, he swore an oath:
I (George Walker Bush) do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States [so help me God].
This is hardly defending the Constitution, Mr. President, and after the abuses of the Clinton era, this is hardly what many of us who supported you were desiring or expecting.
If the Republicans lose the November election badly (and I truly hope and pray that we do not) it will not be because Americans have decided in large numbers that they agree with the Democratic platform. If we lose it will be because we as a party have abandoned the principles that we collectively promised the American people that we believed in and would uphold: Limited government, limited spending, and a return to Constitutional soundness. Most “Joe Sixpack” voters don’t realize that the grassroots of our Party still believe in these things and we are fighting for them, all they see are the people on television.
It might do well for many of us to remember the farewell words of another Republican President, Dwight David Eisenhower:
As we peer into society's future, we-you and I, and our government-must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
We are spending our grandchildren into oblivion, but more than that, we are squandering their “political and spiritual heritage,” a far worse sin.
There is great hope for America and for the GOP, but only if we as a Party re-embrace the conservative values that we campaigned on, and don’t just proclaim them in an election year, don’t just throw them as a political bone to the conservative wing of the Party; live the values and practice them, so that the American people have a real choice. Abandoning the Constitution when it is convenient to do so isn’t just wrong morally, as we can see it is political suicide for our Party, because our own base doesn’t trust us anymore. It is time to show that we are worthy of that trust again.