If we are to live in peace in a nation of laws, two things must happen. 1) Citizens must respect and obey the law, and 2) governments must make and enforce respectable laws. Every day Americans obey the laws that govern things from speed limits on the streets to keeping their lawn properly trimmed. Only a tiny fraction of a tiny fraction of laws require the intervention of police and the courts. This is a wonderful thing and reflects very well on the character of America’s people. I think one cannot be a good citizen without respect for the law and for those charged with writing them and enforcing them . . .
But this social compact is beginning to unravel. The breakdown we are witnessing is overwhelmingly a failure of the government to make and enforce respectable laws. In the standoff between Cliven Bundy, his family, and the assembled supporters who ultimately induced a federal agency to back the hell off, I tried to suss out which side was in the right. I want to support the right side. When I go to a state park to camp out, I have to pay a fee. If I fish in a national forest, I need a license and I may have to pony up for admission.
On the other hand, if the park ranger comes along and confiscates my car, tent and cooler full of hot dogs because the Feds have increased the fees overnight, I’m going to be a bit pissed off.
As I understand it, in civil cases the standard of evidence is not “beyond a reasonable doubt”, it is “the preponderance of evidence.” On which party does 51 percent of the evidence say responsibility falls? That’s a mercifully low standard. I don’t think we could function as a society if every transaction, every dispute demanded that we know beyond a reasonable doubt.
A radio talk show host here in the Gateway City – Dave Glover – noted that when he first heard about the conflict, he immediately assumed the government was bullying a little guy. That says a lot. Glover isn’t a knee-jerk conservative like I am, he’s much more of a garden variety DJ than he is a pundit.
I’ve seen sketchy reports that Nevada’s senior senator Harry Reid is somehow tied to Chinese solar power company which in turn wants the land that Bundy is using for a multi-million dollar project. This sounds like a bad movie plot starring George Clooney as the crusading lawyer uncovering the truth. The problem is, I find it hard to not believe it.
The lawmakers and law enforcement agents of the Federal government are simply not respectable. Mustering militias may very well have saved rancher Bundy for now, but raising a regiment and mustering to the aid of a citizen carries with it a risk as well. If the real problem is the size, scope and power of the federal government, we simply must elect and support politicians who are willing to take it apart, and resist all the rent-seekers and freeloaders who depend on their influence with government to make their living.
I have five years of experience working on two unsuccessful campaigns for a truly decent guy. It is hard to get elected, not because of the fervor of our opponents, but the apathy of our allies. Until elected officials begin the bitter, decades-long task of dismantling the leviathan of the Federal government to levels we can live with – to levels we can respect – each armed, able-bodied, liberty-minded person should probably keep a week’s worth of food in their go-bag and be ready to muster. I’d like to think that there would not have been a Waco or Ruby Ridge at the Bundy ranch without the presence of hundreds of armed citizens, but I don’t.