Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Friend or foe?

I have often commented that is seems that some politicians, especially republicans at the moment since there is a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic majority in the Senate, consider the United States government as an obstacle to freedom.  I have often heard many Americans speak of our government in less than friendly terms, again, especially when their political perspective differs from those representing us.  Many have actually said that the government should not be considered a friend of the people.   Clearly, Uncle Sam is not universally looked upon as a benevolent relative.

Is this a recent phenomenon or have Americans always been wary of their government? 

I have read enough of our early history to know that our founders did not trust the institution of government.  The fact that they openly rebelled against the English crown is certain proof.  And the checks and balances that they embedded in the Constitution further illustrates their distrust.  No branch should be entrusted with too much power.  Further, one might say the founders didn't trust the people all that much either.  I believe many of them would be horrified at the prevalence of popular referendums to create laws.  The fact that the constitution specifies that the electoral college, not popular vote, decide presidential elections confirms this view and explains why we have had three presidents, most recently Geroge W. Bush, elected president without winning the popular vote.  

We seem to grant our government the authority to govern while keeping an eye open for indications that those in power are not serving the public, or worse, have become corrupt.  From that respect, I give full support for those who maintain that watchful eye, even when they are watching (and criticizing) a government that I support.

But is the government a friend when your party is in control and a foe when controlled by those you did not support?  Is that the definition we can conclude from the partisanship that embroils us today? 

How then can we divorce our personal likes and dislikes about the direction and policies of our government to objectively judge a particular administration or congress?

And, even more importantly, how do we marry our instinctual distrust for the government (or any authority figure) with the real need for laws and policies and programs that advance, improve and empower our nation?
If our form of government is based on those first three words of the Declaration of Independence, We the People, then is a distrust of government really a distrust of ourselves?

Ultimately, I believe we must consider our government our friend.  And like our friends, we should criticize, constructively, when we feel it has gone astray.  Through communications to our elected officials, public and private debates, and our precious right to vote, we tell our government we trust them, and are watching them as well. 

Like our friends in need, we support our government through the tough decisions when the right or wrong choice is not obvious or is not universally accepted.  As we treat our firiends, we take our government's side when problems are revealed by those outside our circle, but work to correct those very same problems knowing that it is more important to get it right.

To me the, we MUST consider our government our friend because the only alternative is to treat it like the enemy. 

This does not mean unconditional trust.  But is does mean support even when your perspective is not shared completely by those we elected.  Certainly, criticize and seek to change what you consider wrong.  But find common ground as well, solutions that are shared rather than focusing on whose fault it is or how that side is wrong and your side is right.  Remember, our current government was chosen in the elections of 2008 and 2010, and does reflect the majority will.  Until the next election.



  1. You'd have a stronger argument if you had included a quote or two, from a politician or two, which would illustrate that some politicians actually do "consider the United States government as an obstacle to freedom".

  2. I'm surprised at this comment. Any 15 minutes spent watching Fox news will produce at least one comment claiming the Obama Administration is actively trying to impinge on our freedoms, especially when the Health Care Reform Bill is being discussed.

  3. It is careless for a writer to assume that the reader has seen and heard the same things the author has seen or heard. An unquoted commentary or opinion by a broadcaster that you have heard is certainly not as persuasive as you providing your readers with a specific quote or two from a politician or two in support of your premise.

  4. I think that your conclusion to trust the government is valid due to the assumption that the government is operating "of, by, and for the people". What us now clear is that people no longer consider the government a public entity, but rather a separate entity with its own agenda, operating for self sustainment and vote retention.

    Take illegal immigration for example. This is a problem which could have been fixed long ago. However, it remains an issue today because it secures votes for the party providing handouts. The people want the problem corrected, the government refuses, and then goes a step further to try and prevent a state from taking its own measures.

    Healthcare reform is another example. Does the populace want it? Yes. Do we want it in the manner provided? No. I guarantee that it would fail if put to a popular vote. Those of us that distrust the government see it as a stepping stone to Socialsim....and we can't understand why the rest of you dontg get it.

  5. Do you not trust this current administration, or government in general? Did you believe that the Patriot Act was a step towards socialism when passed by the previous administration and party?
    In the end, you seem to be saying that you distrust your fellow Americans to elect representatives who will do the people's work, and you distrust those elected from doing that work. So, who do you trust?
    Have you actually lost faith in the democratic process and our form of government, and if so, what would you replace it with?

  6. Could you please right a blog about the corruption in Montgomery County's Orphan's Court? The citizen have a right to know.