13 October 2010

Government serves its own interest

Last month, a federal district court judge struck down the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy as unconstitutional. Yesterday, that same judge issued an injunction barring its enforcement. It's nice to see someone in government doing something right even when it is for the wrong reason(s). In her ruling, the judge wrote (emphasis mine):
Far from furthering the military's readiness, the discharge of these service men and women had a direct and deleterious effect on this governmental interest.
Governmental interest? What is that? Since when does the government have an interest? That's probably the wrong question; the idea of "governmental" interest goes back a long way. What I find interesting (and disturbing) is the idea, apparently codified in case law if not statutory law, that the government is a separate entity from the people. In reality, the people have an interest, and the government is supposed to serve that interest. At least, that is what our founding and governing documents would have us believe.

In addition, the government's interest appears to extend to preventing gays from marrying, not just serving in the military. President Obama has directed the justice department to appeal a July ruling against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act:
"As a policy matter, the President has made clear that he believes DOMA is discriminatory and should be repealed," said Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler. "The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged."
Essentially, what this spokesperson is saying is, "We don't like the law, but we have a duty to enforce it." That is an absolute cop out. Government employees take an oath to "support and defend the constitution". That is, no person has a duty to enforce unconstitutional laws. This law plainly violates the 1st, 10th, and 14th amendments, not to mention that involving itself in marriage is not one of the federal government's enumerated powers. Perhaps, however, the government can show that somehow this law constitutes an economic activity that falls under the commerce clause.

The idea of a government official saying one thing and doing another should come as no surprise to anyone, though, and while I don't mean to pick on Obama, specifically, he is currently the most prominent example of government officials doing exactly that.
And in spite of that, he wants everyone to keep hoping for change:
"The question, once again, is going to be whether hope overcomes fear," Obama said at a webcast event meant to buck up young supporters who helped him to victory two years ago, but who are less enthused by mid-term polls.
The question should really be whether hope can overcome reality. This article, in my opinion, answers that question.
So while the electorate recognizes that they are electing at best incompetents and at worst crooks, the constant, naïve, prodemocracy mantra is that "we just need to elect the right people." But, the "right people" aren't (and won't be) running for office. Instead, we will continue to have "the average American legislator [who] is not only an ass," as Mencken wrote, "but also an oblique, sinister, depraved and knavish fellow."

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