Friday, October 10, 2008

This guy is not a hero

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart has refused to carry out any more foreclosures in the Chicago area. He's getting a lot of positive press, and many people support his actions as "sticking up for the little guy."

This is very bad.

America became great because its government operates under the rule of law. Here are two quick explanations:

"The rule of law, in its most basic form, is the principle that no one is above the law."

"Perhaps the most important application of the rule of law is the principle that governmental authority is legitimately exercised only in accordance with written, publicly disclosed laws adopted and enforced in accordance with established procedural steps that are referred to as due process."

This isn't some abstract theory with no real world application. This is the reason why George W. Bush will leave office this January, and not stick around as long as he feels like it. It's the same reason why the government can't send troops into my house to steal my stuff at gunpoint. Don't laugh. These aren't abstractions. That kind of activity has existed since the first crude, caveman government was formed. It still does in many places. The lack of rule of law is why Third World dictators like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe stick around long after their legitimate authority ends. It's also a big part of why countries like Zimbabwe are still stuck in the Third World.

The Sheriff believes that it is unjust to carry out these foreclosures. Many people agree. But it isn't his decision to make. Thousands of years of human experience led to the foundation of our democratic government, which absolutely relies on a separation of powers. When executive figures do what they want, as opposed to what's legally required or allowed, you end up with things like dictatorships, extra-judicial killings, and warrantless wiretapping. Sheriff Dart may claim to have good intentions. But as an elected official responsible for enforcing the law, he should be ashamed that he's chosen to ignore it. This is a democracy, not an autocracy.

Still not convinced?

What if you were wrongfully charged for a crime, acquitted by a jury, and the Sheriff refused to release you, because he didn't believe you were innocent? What if someone vandalized your house every week, and the Sheriff refused to do anything, because you didn't vote for him? What if the Sheriff forced you to attend his church, because he believed it was a good idea? What if he prevented you from attending any church, because he didn't believe in God?

All kinds of people violate the law. But we shouldn't applaud when the government does it.

1 comment:

Kamila said...

Really great writing. You should probably send this as a freelance commentary piece to the Chicago Papers. Seriously.