A confluence of posts has caused me to write this diary. I am astounded and somewhat chastened that I only now really understand the wisdom behind a philosophy I learned long ago in college: namely, that our entire American Experiment rests on 4 little boxes.
The first box is the one we all treasure here at Red State so much: The Soap Box. In our country, at least at present, it is possible to have your say without fear of reprisals from government. (Nighttwister’s blog entry not withstanding ) The expression of one’s opinions in public leads, as it ought, to debates and discussions. Sound opinions, based on reason, logic, and virtue generally prevail, and the ability of those who dissent from prevailing orthodoxy to present their opinions, unimpeded by government, acts as both a safety valve to relieve the burden of perceived injustice, and as a prod to all participants to both think through issues and positions, and refrain from impeding the free exchange of ideas.
And now that we’ve all had our say, it’s time to take this to the second of those boxes: The Ballot Box. This is where the majority rules, but the majority must always respect the rights of the minority. The idea is that having run the gauntlet of The Soap Box, only the best and most essential ideas will emerge to make it to the ballot box. The same goes for those involved in the legislative process, although as has always been the case, talented orators can conceal their true motives and ideals and occasionally prevail. It is for this reason that the founders of this nation structured the government in such a fashion as to make the process of change slow and deliberate. Otherwise, a handful of talented orators may be empowered, and do lasting damage to the republic. Because this box is foundational to the republic, you would think that the penalties for cheating or gaming the Ballot Box would be severe. Best to beware of those talented orators that eschew integrity of the Ballot Box on specious grounds, for it may be the case that they and their minions derive benefits in an inverse proportion to the Ballot Box’s integrity.
It is integrity that strives to make itself plain when we come to the third box: The Jury Box. It is here that average citizens are charged with judging the actions and intents of those accused of damaging others, breaching the peace, or breaching contracts. Virtually all who serve take the responsibility seriously, to deal with the law and the facts as they are presented, and to make determinations that deprive other citizens of money, property, freedom, or even life. Occasionally, juries may hear the evidence, read the law, and determine that irrespective of the direction a verdict should be rendered, they may find in the opposite direction. This is known as Jury Nullification, and legislators ignore these types of rulings at great peril. Juries rarely make such determinations; if they do, it is a message to the legislators that there is a basic unfairness in the writing or application of the law. Too much offending the sensibilities of the people leads to the last of the four boxes…
The Ammo Box. Although most of us would prefer to leave The Ammo Box in the closet, gathering dust, not seeing the light of day, The Ammo Box exists as both deterrent and offensive weapon. (Note to all liberals, the Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting or sport shooting. The intent is to keep the government in its proper place, and to remind the government who is really in charge. Although governments possess well equipped armies, they are very reluctant to open fire on their fellow citizens.) The Ammo Box exists, at least at present, to remind government that the people retain the power “…, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” And also “…that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.” The Ammo Box is not to be trifled with, for it means business whenever it appears. Care needs to be exercised in the dealings with all other boxes, for although rarely used, The Ammo Box backs up each and is the sturdiest of all. Additionally, it contains within itself an additional box that is best left alone. That is the box of Pandora.
And so fellow denizens, we must rise whenever necessary in support of The Four Boxes of the Republic, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Our posterity will be thankful that we did nothing less.