Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Slippery Slope: We Risk Losing Our Liberties

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Slippery Slope: We Risk Losing Our Liberties

Let us not forget that the right to a speedy trial is in the U.S. Constitution which the 14th Amendment makes binding upon the states. While the Constitution grants emergency powers in cases of invasion or insurrection, it does not, for good reason, allow suspending our rights for other alleged emergencies, regardless of state laws to the contrary. All over the world, "emergencies" and constitutions' emergency clauses have been too readily invoked by autocrats in such a way that these "emergencies", often long extended, end only with the autocrat in absolute control and the people's liberties effectively annulled.

Liberal Alexandrians need no explanation of the threat to liberty Pres. Trump might pose; regularly they scream in everyone's face about it. But Pres. Obama was no better; his "hope and change" mantra could only be fulfilled by dozens of abuses the courts overruled. The Patriot Act, whose FISA provisions have been consistently abused, illustrates the danger of loss of liberty, even if gradual, resulting from actions the government undertakes during emergencies.

Under the current emergency, our freedoms of worship, commerce, association, etc. have been impaired by a government which contributed to causing the crisis through a "certificate of need" process which denied hospitals the right to build enough capacity, an under-resourced emergency preparedness agency, and a trade policy which did not provide for adequate access to critical medical supplies. Government policies which exacerbate emergencies then become justifications for extending the government's emergency powers. Although I am not suggesting equivalency, the most egregious historical illustration is the Reichstag Fire, where the Nazis allowed radicals into the building to burn it down, then used the fire to justify emergency powers establishing a brutal dictatorship. This is the "slippery slope" by which we risk losing our liberties.

The ACLU seems hot to let a potential car thief back out on the street, but does it care about the rest of us otherwise law-abiding folks whose rights have been curtailed? Why is the Libertarian Party, headquartered here in Alexandria, so silent in the face of a two-trillion dollar government power-grab? We would well recall Thomas Jefferson's advice: "... no one can oblige … the persons who succeed him to the payment of debts he contracted … [lest he] eat up [the resources] for several generations to come … No generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during … his own existence." This emergency benefits the age groups who dominate the decision-making levels of government, but its costs, such as paying off the two trillion, will be born by future generations.

Dino Drudi