The White House: Too Big for its Breaches Since 1792

Tareq And Michaele Salahi’s attendance at a White House dinner to which they hadn’t been invited was hardly the first “security breach” at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. According to the Washington Post, the Secret Service has documented at least 91 such events since 1980.

The moral of the story isn’t that you can’t trust the Salahis. It’s that you can’t trust the government. In the 220 years since “We The People” allegedly “ordained and established” the Constitution, the government created by that Constitution has continuously worked toward exempting itself from the rules, both explicit and implicit, that bind it.

At one time, the very idea of “breaching White House security” didn’t exist. It was understood to be “the public’s house,” and if you felt like dropping in for a visit or a walk around the grounds … or for that matter, a chat with the president … that was your prerogative as a citizen, right up to at the middle of the 20th century.

These days, you can get a guided tour of the house you allegedly own, where your alleged employees work — if you can get one of those alleged employees, to wit “your” congresscritter, to request permission on your behalf for you to visit.

It’s not just about the White House. It’s about your right to use “your” property. You are a member of “the public,” right?

In recent years, what passes for debate has become so ridiculous that a right unambiguously enshrined in the Constitution and acknowledged therein as belonging solely to “the people” and not subject to infringement by any level of government for any reason — the right to keep and bear arms — is seriously held by some not to apply on “public properties” such as courthouses and “national” forests. If “the people” can’t exercise their rights on their own property, where can they exercise them?

The ink was barely dry on the Constitution before government began setting itself apart from, and above, that “We The People” to whom it was supposedly subservient.

In 1792, the federal government, at the urging of then Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, imposed a tax on whiskey. While the overt arguments for the tax largely centered around paying off government debt (the feds had assumed state debts from the revolution), Hamilton didn’t make any bones about its true purpose. It was, he said, desirable “more as a measure of social discipline than as a source of revenue.” Hamilton had his central government, and now he was eager to have it display its whip hand.

In 1794, President George Washington led an army the size of that which had won the Revolution into western Pennsylvania to let the hoi polloi know who was boss. It wasn’t about whiskey or taxes. It was about authority. A few prisoners were rounded up; two were sentenced to death but pardoned; and 25 or so were fined for “assisting and abetting in setting up a seditious pole in opposition to the laws of the United States” — a liberty pole, in other words, just like those to which Americans had rallied in support of throwing off the British yoke.

It’s gone downhill ever since. These days it’s virtually impossible to enter a government building without emptying your pockets, walking through a metal detector and doffing one’s cap to the uniformed representative of authoritah.

“We The People,” my ass. In setting itself over and above the rest of us, government has also set itself apart from the rest of us. In developing its own interests and priorities distinct from — and often opposed to — those of the people whom it allegedly serves, government has relinquished any rightful claim on the people’s loyalty.

Remember this, and remember it well: Government serves itself first and foremost. We’re an afterthought at best and, more often than not, an obstacle to be overcome. Government is inherently an alien institution and its employees are at all times an occupation force. It’s about time we recognized that and started treating them accordingly.

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