The Porcupine's Quill
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September 13 1999,
by Paul deParrie
As the FBI lies about Waco begin (again) to unravel; as "special investigators" are commissioned; as Congress vehemently promises to "get to the bottom of this," the renewed cry of the Confidence Government - similar to the Confidence Man - is heard throughout the land.
We heard it through the House Post Office scandal, the Rostenkowski debacle, the Ruby Ridge mess, Monicagate, an all the other embarrassing glimpses we have gotten into the corruption of government in the last thirty years.
"We must restore the American people's confidence in government," we hear over and over government officials like a magical mantra designed to calm and soothe.
Think about that. They tell us that "restoring confidence" is the goal, but what about the goal of giving the people a reason for confidence? What about just plain, ol' justice? Put the bad guys in jail, and bring in guys - not the same old guys - who will perform honest tasks honestly.
The Con Government, like the Con Man, is ever trying to "restore confidence" in himself, but never trying to actually become worthy of confidence.
This is why the Founders never talked about "restoring confidence." They talked about keeping faith with the people, about earning respect. The onus was on them to be honest, not just be thought honest.
They never talked about trying to create some kind of trust in government among the people. The Founders, in fact, mistrusted all governments and all men. They believed the biblical proposition (even those who were not Bible believers per se that human beings are inherently corrupt and corruptible.
Jefferson was known to say, "Let us hear no more of confidence in men, but bind them down with chains of the Constitution."
Like Jefferson, the other Founders believed that enforcing the laws and Constitution - not some public relations trick to "restore confidence" - was the answer.
The reason the Founders had a Revolution in the first place, was because governments of men were deemed automatically to be suspect - King George being the exemplar of that proposition. The reason the Founders divided government into competing power blocks (balanced powers) was to help insure that no one of them would have the power to enforce tyranny. People in power, by nature, were not trustworthy enough for sovereign power.
People are no less corruptible today.
That is why when I began hearing Senator Danforth talking about "restoring confidence," all I heard was another Confidence Man representing his friends in the Confidence Government.
Yes, they all want us to have confidence in them, but none will stand for the possible punishment. Like Janet Reno, they might even agree to "take responsibility" for Waco and other crimes, but it is a "responsibility" which costs them nothing. When all the dusts settles, they are left standing with their power intact. This is supposed to inspire "confidence"?
Adapt Jefferson's motto: "Let us hear no more of FBI 'errors' and 'failures,' but bind them down with chains of the laws and the Constitution." Bind them down to jail.
If you or I did what the FBI did - withhold documents and information from Congress and the Justice Department - we would be serving prison time for obstruction of justice. Every FBI, BATF, U.S. Military, Justice Department, and other government agent who knew about those fire bombs shot into the Waco church building and did not report it, should go to jail. No plea bargains, no immunity for testimony, no slack.
With greater power comes greater culpability.
Next, let the American people see all the dirty laundry and let them know, the way the Founders did, that what is needed is not "restoring confidence in the government," but a people vigilant with the laws and Constitution demanding that crime by public officials be punished most severely.
"Let us hear no more of confidence in the federal government, but bind them down with chains of the laws and the Constitution."
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