Monday, March 10, 2008

Absolute Power...

As the old aphorism goes "absolute power corrupts absolutely." Which is why we don't give our public representatives absolute power. The founding fathers, in their wisdom and foresight, created a system of checks and balances; they created the ability for a public official to be impeached, and they created a system that would enable the citizen to "oversee" their representative's actions.

Today the New York Times reported a story concerning New York Governor, Elliot Spitzer, in which they quoted him as describing his behavior as "a personal matter." In his next sentence though, Mr. Spitzer apoligised "to the public to whom I promised better."

The distinction between these two statements is important to recognize. While Spitzer points out what is indeed true: his non-political actions are indeed "personal," they should not in any way be mistaken for "private." As governor of a people - the represantative not only in legislative matters, but in moral and ethical ones as well - Elliot Spitzer's personal actions must be made public.

The same holds true in fact, for any public leader or representative, and it does not matter if the act in question is as "mundane" as supposedly double-speaking about NAFTA or as closely personal as having an affair. It is important that the public continues to notice and to monitor the actions of their leaders, so as - as the Founding Father's wished - these leaders may not come to obtain absolute power. The nation's leaders must recognize and understand that they are being watched and that Republic, Democrat, or Independant, they are not above the law. The only way to ensure that our leaders understand this vital fact, is by constantly pointing ALL theirs misactions.

Sometimes these actions will appear to the public to be merely mistakes - the type of "slip-up" any person might make - and so the public will choose to forget the foley. Yet, there are times when the public will decide that the action under consideration is too great to overlook, and in that case they will decide that pressure must be exerted on their leader to regain control over him or her. It is the ability to do this that is the crucial key in ensuring a democratic republic that is America, and it is this element of "public review" that despite its critics, must be upheld and protected.


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