Monday, November 17, 2008

Subject to the tyranny of dead men

As I've written elsewhere, I'm not particularly inclined to be tyrannized by the living, much less by dead men. But that's just me. If you are inclined that way, well, that it is your problem, not mine, and I'm not going to make it my problem. Which is to say that I won't be tyrannized by your proclivity to be tyrannized by a dead generation, period.

Certain of my commenters, both very recently and further back in time, have said to me in very dogmatic terms that certain policies and agreements now existing were created by folks no longer existing and way before I was ever thought of. This fact to these persons means that therefore I (and by extension most everyone now living) have nothing to say about it; that we the living are subject, without review or revision, to the laws of dead men. It is, whatever it is, written in stone from henceforth and for all time. End of story, say they.

What a slave mentality this is! I'm not sure I can put a finger on the exact cause of this mindless, slavish mentality seemingly prevalent among the masses, but the public education system in American, such as it is at this moment in time, can't be helping matters any. And it can't be helpful that we've opened the door wide to peoples and cultures and traditions which can have little knowledge or understanding of what freedom is and how to maintain it, and thus to pass it on to posterity.

It is in this vein that Dr. Yeagley (who I seem to recall once argued this very line with me here at Webster's. I'd have to go back and check the archives to be sure) has an interesting entry up over at concerning certain internal governing characteristics of the Comanche Tribal Constitution and the term restrictions (term limits) it imposes on its Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Yeagley complains (and his complaint is warranted in my opinion, irrespective of who currently occupies the seat) that the Comanche constitution established by dead men contains a flaw that needs to be corrected by none other than the living. What a novel concept! Yeagley's complaint is not only leveled at the imposition on the Chief of the tribe himself, but the imposition on the Comanche people which denies them the right to select a given Chief as many times in succession as they themselves choose to select him. Yeagley goes further even, complaining that the very institution of elections is not a Comanche tradition; that [dead] White men imposed this institution on the Comanche people in 1934, though I don't get the impression he's arguing that the entirety of the Comanche constitution should be scrapped.

Dr. Yeagley writes:

Nick Tahchawwickah and I see precious value in our present leadership. We recently presented a proposal to the Comanche Business Committee about an amendment to our Comanche Constitution that would insure continuation of that leadership. When a true leader appears among the Comanche, we think the people have the right to maintiain his leadership as long as they want. Under our current Constitution, imposed by the Bureau of Indian Affiars in 1934, our chiefs can remain in office only for two consecutive terms. Then they must be out of office, at least one term, before they can run again. This is certainly foreign and contrary to the old Comanche ways. Leaders were [n't] 'elected' in the first place. They evolved into the position by natural selection. And they certainly were never "changed" regularly by scheduled elections. This is a bit bizarre for Comanches, actually. Tahchawwickah and I want an amendment which will allow unlimited terms. (The new, proposed Constitution, which hasn't come to a vote yet, does not even address the matter of terms or term limits.)

I personally find very interesting Yeagley's choice of terms in the foregoing paragraph. For instance where he invokes the language of Darwinian natural selection. But that's a side issue not necessarily related to this post. The main point is that Dr. Yeagley's complaint (again, a valid complaint in my opinion) is with the imposition of a dead generation of White men on a living generation of Comanches, the illegitimacy of which I've been arguing all along. Dr. Yeagley asserts that living Comanches have the right to adjust their Tribal Constitution to their own liking, or, as the Declaration of Independence puts it:

...that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to create new guards for their future security. ...organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

And I most certainly agree. This is just a no-brainer, one of those "self-evident truths" spoken of in the DoI -- that governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. The governed in the foregoing statement are minimally the living. They're more than just the living, of course, but that's what they are at a bare minimum. Beyond that bare minimum as applies to the Comanche People and their governing Constitution, they (living Comanches) have every right to determine for themselves what qualifications are requisite for their own citizenship, for their own leadership and so forth and so on. If the general sense of the Comanche People is that term limiting their Tribal Chief is bad for Comanches, then let them remove this imposition from their governing constitution.

We've had our own discussions (though I don't recall taking the issue up here at Webster's) about the illegitimacy of term limiting our governors under the United States, particularly the term limit imposed on the presidency by the 22nd amendment, U.S. Constitution, which serves as a good example for us to look to. It is one of those things that when you get into the depth of the subject you begin to realize how very detrimental to good politics term limits are, notwithstanding their popularity among the ignorant masses, as well as the "good intentions" of those who advocate for term limits. But beyond that, term limits can be nothing more and nothing less than depriving the People of a choice they may have otherwise made in exclusion of them. The best way to regulate the amount of damage a bad politician can inflict is to hold regular elections, and to make him subject to impeachment and prosecution according to law. If you have a policy in place which artificially regulates how long a given politician can serve in a given capacity, then you end up with that "lame duck" situation that generally attends the second terms of U.S. Presidents. In other words, I would argue, and have argued, with regard to this concept of term limits, that a good politician can be made bad and that a bad politician can be made worse by the very institution of (artificial) term limits itself.

But of course it is all written in stone now, so I have no say in the matter. I should therefore take my place as a slave to the policies and enactments of dead men.