I Can Do It; You Can't

Column by Paul Hein.

Exclusive to STR

President Obama was served with a subpoena to appear in an Atlanta court on January 26, to offer proof of his eligibility to be on the ballot in Georgia in the upcoming presidential election. Georgia law, as I understand it, requires that all candidates for federal office be qualified to hold the office to which they aspire.
 
Of course, Obama did not appear; few, if any, expected that he would. He is, after all, El Presidente, and was busy with other things on that date, such as flying around the country campaigning.
 
What strikes me as noteworthy about the event--or non-event--is not whether the President is eligible or not, but rather, that he could ignore a subpoena to appear in court and receive not so much as a slap on the wrist. Could I do that--or you?
 
It seems taken for granted that a president is too important for such things; he has the power, evidently, to ignore troublesome subpoenas with impunity. Power is what it’s all about: getting it, keeping it, and using it. The president, as the world’s number one celebrity, is most conspicuous in his use of power, but all of the rulers exercise it with abandon. For example, a judge can order you to appear before him at his convenience, and if it is profoundly inconvenient for you--too bad. Even some lowly clerk at the auto license bureau can make you jump through hoops to obtain her permission--i.e., “license,”—to do what you could do quite well without. She has the power!
 
Here’s the puzzling thing: Every state constitution, I believe (and certainly the Missouri State Constitution) contains language that refers to the people as the source of all political power, which is derived from them. The federal constitution has similar language, declaring that all powers not granted to the Congress by the Constitution remain with the people, or the states. So the obvious question: how can the rulers exercise powers which the people, the supposed source of those powers, cannot?
 
As people across the country seem to be awakening--I hope--to the destructive role of government, they would do well to consider this perplexing fact: that the people cannot do what the rulers can do--ignore a subpoena, for example--and yet whatever power those rulers have to ignore subpoenas presumably comes from the people! This is not some abstruse legal concept, or technicality of the law, but a matter of basic common sense, involving the very nature of government. That institution claims to derive its power from the people, and to operate with the consent of the governed, but obviously, it exercises power, routinely, that the people do not have, and to which they would not consent were they given the option. In other words, a fraud.
 
Why would it matter if the next president were Obama, Romney, Santorum, or Gingrich? A pox on them all! They certainly consider themselves a privileged class, exerting power that they do not have, according to the oath they took upon assuming office. If they swear one thing, and do another, are their actions legitimate, i.e., according to law? If they--and the government in general--is illegitimate, what allegiance do we owe it?
 
Fretting about a candidate’s income tax returns, or what he thinks about this issue or that, misses the point. The whole government ploy is a power and money grab, impure and simple. To the extent that we take it seriously as anything but an abomination to be gently and peacefully abolished, we have been duped. And we’ve been duped long enough!

 

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Suverans2's picture

"Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless... the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is [now (1784)] while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion." ~ Thomas Jefferson in “Notes on the State of Virginia”, Query 17, p. 161, 1784.

Paul's picture

"Every state constitution... contains language that refers to the people as the source of all political power, which is derived from them."

Mere propaganda, to make slaves more comfortable in their slavery. This is similar to calling politicians "public servants" or saying "they work for us". They don't, and never have.