This post is about government, not politics.
I saw an article today, which has the link posted blow. I want to preface this post by saying that it is not (directly) about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling which allows for same-sex marriage throughout the U.S. Rather, it is about the fact that they ruled, and what that means for Americans. In the article below, (and I am heavily paraphrasing – please read the full article for yourself!) Republican primary candidate Rick Santorum weighed in on Kim Davis, the Kentucky Clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Santorum is quoted as saying, “You know Martin Luther King went to jail because he didn’t follow the law. There’s a long precedent in America from people saying, ‘you know the law has to change to accommodate what is the right thing to do, in their own moral judgment.’” He goes on to say he is proud of Kim Davis.
And he is dead-on in his quote. We do have a long history of private citizens peacefully and passively protesting what they believed to be an unjust law. In my opinion, this is one of the most fantastic aspects of the United States, that an individual does not have to ‘toe the line’ to be a citizen. What he misses, though, is that Kim Davis is an elected official. We also have a storied past of government representatives going against or ignoring laws – Watergate, NSA surveillance, nullification of laws – and of those representatives being fined, impeached, or going to prison.
A Presidential hopeful who does not see the distinction between a private citizen’s beliefs/actions and a government representative’s actions makes me nervous about loyalty to democracy. Certainly, democracy has its issues. Winston Churchill is credited with saying “…that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” (Churchill by Himself, p 574). However, we have a certain system of laws, and democracy is only effective if those in the minority respect the majority rule. Whether we like what the democratic system puts out or not, we have to live with and abide by it. Reminds me of that family member everyone has who makes you just a little uncomfortable, but they’re still part of the family whether you like it or not. Kim Davis’ actions were plainly illegal, but the heat of the topic makes them seem blurry. Let me set an alternate picture:
A man named Rob works for the Department of Motor Vehicles, and has for most of his career. Everything is routine, until Rob’s own daughter turn 16. At this point, Rob becomes nervous about his teenage daughter driving (as most parents tend to be around that time), so he decides that he won’t issue her a driver’s license for that county. When challenged by his daughter that he is being unfair, Rob is backed into a corner and decides that his belief is no one should be allowed until they are 18. As such, he no longer issues driver’s licenses to those who come of legal age to obtain one.
In the situation above, parents and teenagers alike would be up in arms, and Rob would be either fired or taken to court. If taken to court, a judge would rule that Rob’s actions were illegal, and he would punished appropriately, and someone who was willing to follow the law would be put in Rob’s place. No one would be coming to Rob’s aid here, except maybe his family and a few parents with 16-year old children of their own. This would make the paper, but would be a non-issue. If a Presidential hopeful came out in support of Rob’s actions, said hopeful would have ruined their chances at coming remotely close to election.
History shows us that politicians who subvert the law due to personal beliefs/opinions become corrupt, And given enough power and enough time, the rule of law becomes meaningless; instead, the country is run off of one individual’s belief system. Which doesn’t sound a whole lot like democracy to me…