Jenny EriksonPeople have been breaking rules since God said, “Enjoy the garden … just don’t eat that fruit off that tree.” The first rule in existence and the first humans couldn’t be bothered to follow it.
Let’s face it: Rules are rarely any fun or easy to follow. That’s why there are sayings like, "Rules were meant to be broken," or my favorite from one of those pirate movies, "They’re more like guidelines anyway."
Some of the bigger rules are relatively easy for most of us to follow. Thou shalt not murder is one of those that I’m fairly certain most Americans don’t struggle to keep on a daily basis. But what about speed limits? Anti-piracy laws? Tucking the price tags in on an expensive outfit, wearing it to a fancy party, and then returning it to the store for a full refund?
Rules can suck, but like it or not, they’re necessary for order and civility. Reckless driving is dangerous, and kills people every day. Illegally downloading software off the Internet is the same as walking into a store and stealing a boxed computer program. Returning worn clothes to a store as new is dishonest to both the store and the eventual end purchaser.
The wonderful thing about the way our government is set up is that it’s full of rules to protect us against tyranny. We have three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial … someone should remind Senator Schumer of that, by the way) that provide a unique system of checks and balances to keep any one person or group from getting too much power.
Creating new laws on both state and federal levels takes a lot of work. An idea has to be developed in a committee, it has to be written, it has to be passed by two houses of congress, and it has to be signed by the governor or president. Once law, the judicial branch makes sure that it’s enforced. If citizens don’t like the way their representatives vote on issues, they elect new people at the next election.
It’s a beautiful system … so long as everyone follows the rules. Unfortunately, there are some in power right now that don’t think the rules should apply to them. Democratic state senators in Wisconsin have fled to Illinois rather than voting on a bill that would limit state employees’ ability to financially hose the taxpayers in the name of "workers’ rights."
Just this week, the Obama administration has declared that it will no longer uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, a law signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton that says that no state shall be required to recognize same-sex relationships as marriages. Put aside your feelings on gay marriage for a minute to consider what the president did. There was a law he didn’t like, so he just declared it no longer to exist. What if he had decided that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional? What if, in 2013, a Republican is in the White House and he or she decides that Obamacare is unconstitutional and not enforceable?
There is a process for creating and repealing laws for a reason. If the Defense of Marriage Act is really so repugnant, it should have no problem flying through the proper channels and being abolished. For a president to make up his own rules as he goes along is a very scary prospect.
Democracy might be cumbersome and difficult at times, but it is better than being ruled by one man and his whims. As Winston Churchill once said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”