Being Libertarian Perspectives will serve as a weekly, multi-perspective opinion and analysis piece by members of Being Libertarian’s writing team. Every week the panel, comprised of randomly selected writers, will answer a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Managing Editor Dillon Eliassen will moderate and facilitate the discussion.
Dillon Eliassen: Are we living in a post-rule of law America?
I believe in American exceptionalism. When the colonies won independence and became a sovereign nation, it was an exceptional episode in global history, the idea that the government would voluntarily constrain its powers so as to be conducive to the flourishing and prosperity of the individual. There have been several black marks on America (slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment, War on Drugs) but the idealism from which American exceptionalism is derived is and remains profound. Individual sovereignty was not considered as a possibility around the time of the Founding. One of the pillars of American exceptionalism is the rule of law. Obviously there have been exceptions to the rule, but now it seems the concept of the rule of law is just blatantly being disregarded when inconvenient for our rulers, political dynasties, those who are hooked in, those with enough money, etc.
Alon Ganon: Both Hillary Clinton and Malia Obama are both not being prosecuted for crimes the rest of us would go to jail for.
Dillon: Can we come back from this? Or is it just gone, this great ideal that had set America apart from the rest of the world around the time of the Founding?
Brandon Kirby: Of course America can come back from its current lawlessness. It’s obviously not going to happen in this election, but there may come a time in the future when America returns to its roots. I suspect if there is a major financial collapse with debt or the dollar, as many libertarians suspect, America’s response will be either to ascend to greatness with sound money and non-aggression or will deteriorate into authoritarianism the way Germany did with its financial collapse from printing too much money. That binary is just my suspicion.
Dillon: Now there is something called “the Hillary defense.”
That is her real legacy. Unless she finds a way to eradicate ISIS, or frees up our markets so we have a Reagan-esque two decade long boom, Hillary will be remembered for setting the precedent for above the law politicians.
Brandon: I would argue that the US administration is acting on the international stage in a post-rule of law scenario. They’re complicit in the genocide against the Zaydis in Yemen, by arming the Saudis. There was a semblance of legality in the invasion of Libya (or ‘no fly zone’ as they conveniently refer to it), but how they carried it out was against UN resolutions. They clearly took sides in the war. What’s worse is that they knew there were components of the rebel army affiliated with Al-Qaeda. I at least understand why they’re selling weapons to the Saudis, I can’t figure out why they went after Libya. The only proposal that’s made sense to me is that Libya was going to institute a pan-African gold standard and demand gold for oil and urged the Middle East to do the same, which would be the biggest threat to the US, UK, and Canada since the Cold War. It’s conspiracy theory nutbar level 7, but I can’t figure out why else they went to war. Why would the US have knowingly allied itself with Al-Qaeda in Libya? There’s nothing but lip service to legality; it’s post-law as you put it and it’s deeply concerning.
JSB Morse: I think that’s right. It’s hard to write dystopian futures fast enough before the government goes out and makes it a reality these days. We’re clearly on a downward spiral with regard to rule of law and it’s only going to stop when one of two things happens: 1) a critical mass of people wake up and reject the current power structure or 2) the system implodes on itself and we’re forced to create a new system from the rubble. Unfortunately #2 looks more likely.
Gary St. Fleur: The fundamental issue at play here is the willingness of the people to uphold the civic apparatus that establishes framework for institutional underpinning of rule of law. It cannot be left to those in authority to police themselves. This was at the heart of what the American constitutional republic was rooted in. There is an obvious lapse in the rule of law when applied to elites in American society, but the people have become complacent enough to accept it. This stuff is bananas! Her foundation was a back door to the State Department and the emails prove this conclusively. What is shocking is the tepid response of the media.
Dillon: The media’s response is quite predictable. Even when there is breaking news on Clinton’s email and/or campaign finance/Foundation scandals, the media labels it “old news.” The media’s love for Obama was a blip on the radar, a weird moment that only interrupted the media’s obsession with the Clintons, going back to the 1988 election. In fact, in 5-10 years, almost everything about Obama/Warren/Sanders will be viewed as this weird time capsule; we’ll be back to the never ending struggle between Clinton Democrats and big government Republicans.
Gary: It seems near universal. Does anyone have a problem with her ultra-corruptible behavior? They treat it like a mere oversight.
Ni Ma: I think it’s so hard to answer that question without determining what post rule of law means. The FBI has been prosecuting selectively for decades, just think of it under Hoover.
Gary: Ni, of course that is true but I often think that these things are regarding the perception involving the idea. I am sure we all know society is kept together by faith. When that faith is undermined, we begin to disintegrate.
JSB: Excellent point, Gary. And when you look at people who support Hillary and Obama, it seems like we’ve traded that faith for more of a suspension of disbelief right now. How else can people defend such brazen disregard for and arbitrary application of the law?
Gary: Indeed. This is how totalitarian regimes begin: the suspension of ideas integral to liberty for temporary benefits, but the new status quo sets in and there is never a return to the old guard.
Dillon: Remember tits-on-a-bull John Edwards and his “Two Americas” speech? It primarily concerned income inequality, the disparity between the Haves and Have-Nots in these here United States of America. There is a parallel between income inequality and the Post-Rule of Law issue. It plays a role in the Black Lives Matter movement. If you have a great deal of wealth and are a private citizen, you can hire a great legal defense team to keep you out of the big house. Nowadays, enough lawyers and legal connections can get you into the White House.
There are Two Americas. I have no problem with income inequality; what this dude can not abide is Two Americas derived from one group not being beholden to the rule of law. And what makes it even worse is the irony that the personification of the Post Rule of Law, Hillary Clinton, is being criticized by Donald Trump and Gary Johnson. That’s assuming Johnson is even taking shots at Hillary; he seems to have just as many nice things to say about her as he does critical things to say about her! Trump is an enabler of corruption, and trying to, and often succeeding in, skirting the law, and employing frivolous lawsuits, a luxury only the wealthy can enjoy. Johnson is also of the American power structure, a power which tends to corrupt, even those who have a solid foundation of morals and scruples.
I would prefer it if an intellectual and eloquent person who is not a member of the elite was in the spotlight for critiquing Hillary for her corruption, not Trump or Johnson, who can and do benefit from being treated as superior to the rest of we proles.
Gary: It is so blatant I find it puzzling that anyone can see it differently. Just look at the EpiPen situation: the government grants privilege status to a company, blocks competition through legislation and then the privilege company donates to politicians who further block competition, and then blame capitalism.
Dillon: Gary, you’re right, but the problem is most Americans don’t care enough to independently verify the facts of an issue. If mainstream media tells them something, they take it for granted, because as we know, the media is objective and honestly informs the public about current events because their only agenda is to honor their responsibility to the truth.