Letter: American tyranny
Why should James Clapper, Obama’s Orwellian director of national intelligence, be prosecuted for lying to Congress about the NSA, which is a felony?
Or to bring it back home, why am I fighting billionaires Paula and James Crown, owners of Aspen Skiing Co., JP Morgan Chase, and the merchant of death, the world’s fourth largest global arms manufacture, General Dynamics?
Bullying is as old as time. The petty tyranny against our brave ancestors caused the American colonies to take on the powerful British Empire.
The central tenet of America’s founding was: The rule of law would be the equalizing force, the ultimate guardian of justice. We’re all equal before the law.
Justice is blind. No man is above the law. We are, in the words of John Adams, “a nation of laws, not men.”
Our founders considered inequality to be inevitable. Some would be rich; many would not. Some would achieve great power; most would not. Some individuals would be naturally endowed by God with unique and extraordinary talent, while most people would be “ordinary.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote of “a natural aristocracy” among men, based upon “virtue and talents.” The one exception was the rule of law: the “level playing field,” a universal set of rules. It was, in the words of attorney and journalist Glenn Greenwald, “the nonnegotiable prerequisite that made all other forms of inequality acceptable.”
The founders believed that only if everyone operated under the same rules would outcome inequality be just. To the founders, nothing constituted a greater threat to our republic than to allow this inequality of wealth or power to determine the treatment of citizens before the law.
The law can ensure that the elites are subjected to its dictates on equal terms with the powerless. Jefferson argued that the essence of America was that “the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire.” Thomas Paine wrote that “the true and only true basis of representative government” is equal application of the law to all citizens: rich and poor, strong and weak, elites and peons, homeowners and renters.
Without equal application of the laws, Ben Franklin warned that society would fracture into two tiers: the “favored” and the “oppressed.” The result would be “great and violent jealousies and animosities” between these classes.
Equal application of the law to our financial and political elites is a prerequisite for a free and cohesive society. James Madison wrote that it is “one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together” and warned that once it’s missing, “every government degenerates into tyranny.”
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