Americans are a people of little faith – in government. And we should stay that way.
In the past 16 years we’ve been lied to a lot. Remember when George Bush told us about the weapons of mass destruction being produced and hidden in the deserts of Iraq? We went to war, destabilized a country for at least a generation, and still never found the weapons that prompted an invasion. Remember when Barack Obama told us that “if you like your plan, you can keep it’’? Millions of Americans lost their health plans and are paying higher monthly premiums and huge deductibles.
And what did we find out that the government didn’t tell us? National Security Agency spying, indefinite detention in the National Defense Authorization Act, backdoor attempts at gun control, free speech zones. All are rights violations.
The U.S. was conceived with a deep mistrust of government, and considering the above, it’s a sentiment that should never lapse.
That sentiment stems from England’s coercion of the American colonies prior to the American Revolution. The last third of the Declaration of Independence lists all of the injustices of England on the 13 American colonies.
At least once every decade in recent memory there has been one scandal or another that reveals corruption, dishonesty, or bad judgement by our government, keeping us in a constant state of suspicion. Watergate in the 1970s, Iran-Contra in the 80s, the House overdraft scandal in the 90s, Bush’s WMDs in the early 2000s, and in the last 10 years there’s been a whole bouquet of Obama scandals: fast and furious gun running, IRS targeting, Veterans’ affairs, Benghazi, spying on news reporters.
At an Ohio State commencement speech President Obama told the graduates that some citizens “incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.’’
Very true, Mr. President. Thanks for the reminder.
The connections between past and present are there for any mistrust that Americans have. Less than a decade after the U.S. Constitution was written, and only seven years after the Bill of Rights was added to the constitution John Adams had the Sedition Acts passed, which jailed hundreds of newspaper editors and reporters, simply for criticizing the administration in power.
In 1830, the Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee nation was allowed to stay on its ancestral lands in Georgia. However, President Andrew Jackson said no and forced thousands to move. And thousands died.
The explosion of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana Harbor led to the Spanish-American War, a war where the U.S. wanted to flex some muscle, display its might, and get involved in the imperialist accumulation of foreign lands and new economic markets. Spain never sabotaged the Maine. It was merely an explosion from ammunition being stored too close to the boiler system.
The Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which the North Vietnamese attacked an American destroyer, never even happened. It was just a lie to get involved in a war.
Elected officials want our trust, but the parade of scandals, lies, and bad decisions throughout U.S. history can’t, and shouldn’t, elicit any at all.