“Government is the people’s business, and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid. With all the profound wording of the Constitution, probably the most meaningful words are the first three, ‘We, the People.’” – Ronald Reagan
If you’ve followed Grassroots America’s relentless quest to hold the Smith County Judge and Commissioners Court accountable over the past 14 months, by now you must be sick of hearing us say, “A community is known for what it tolerates.” Because the independence of a free people is utterly dependent upon the principle “Government is the servant and not the master of the people,” we will not cease to say it – especially as it applies to the abject mess our county government is in.
Both sides of the servant/master equation are at fault for most government messes. First, too many elected officials don’t believe they are public servants. They believe they are our all-knowing, enlightened masters and are either ignorant of their statutorily-mandated duty to conduct open government and to hear our redress of grievances against them, or they willfully, wantonly ignore that duty and behave as if they are accountable to no one – least of all the taxpaying rabble. Finally, you have the amiable, “nice guy/gal” types that just aren’t used to swimming with political sharks, are easily buffaloed by people with law degrees, just want to be loved, enjoy being in the “cool” group, and soon find they are in over their heads. The result? An elitist oligarchy that starts conducting the people’s business in back rooms just because they’ve come to believe they are smarter than the people who pay the freight, and they figure somebody in the justice system will always be there to save their bacon.
The second ingredient in this toxic, public corruption-breeding stew is the fact that most people do not see themselves as the masters. Most people – the intended masters of government – fall into at least five discernible categories – 1) the ignorant, who just don’t know any better; 2) the afraid, who fear business or social retribution for speaking out against the local ruling class; 3) the clueless groupies, who treat all elected officials as rock gods and would never, ever dare object to anything they do – especially if the officials are Republican; 4) the cronies, who love sloppy, stupid government as long as their head can be in the trough and their pocketbooks on the receiving end of special deals; and 5) the above-it-all detached, who just don’t give a rat’s rear end.
“Smith County Camera-gate” (as some have called it) has never been about whether or not we liked the idea of traffic cameras to catch speeders. We don’t, but that’s not the point. This was never about personalities or differences in political philosophy. This is about the rule of law.
Under the Austin Pink Dome, special interests abound, unconstitutional retroactive bills to distribute corporate welfare are signed into law, the state pours money into “Welfare for Sports” and powerful legislators in both parties manipulate the system and profit from it. In Washington, DC, federal officials shred the US Constitution every day, and leadership for both parties just stands by and let it happen.
We can’t do much about that kind of chicanery on a daily basis, but, in our own backyard, Grassroots America believes YOU can and YOU must hold officials accountable. Our mission is to empower, educate, and unite those who do care, who do want to know, and who are sick of the status quo.
On this Independence Day weekend, be thankful for freedom, but don’t take it for granted. Won’t you join us – at least at the local level – to put county government on the side of the people? Please share the people you know who care, want a change, but just don’t know what to do!
“As long as rulers are above the law, citizens have the same type of freedom that slaves had on days when their masters chose not to beat them.” James Bovard