Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they have been resisted with either words or blows, or with both. – Frederick Douglass

     Earth’s population had been stabilized, about the middle of the twenty-first century, at eighteen billion. The Fertility Board, a subsection of the United Nations, made and enforced the birth control laws. For more than half a thousand years those laws had remained the same: two children to a couple, subject to the judgment of the Fertility Board. The Board decided who might be a parent how many times. The Board might award extra children to one couple, deny any children at all to another, all on the basis of desirable or undesirable genes.
     “Incredible,” said the kzin.
     “Why? Things were getting pretty tanj crowded, with eighteen billion people trapped in a primitive technology.”
     “If the Patriarchy tried to force such a law on kzinti, we would exterminate the Patriarchy for its insolence.”

     [Larry Niven, Ringworld]

     What we’ve allowed governments to get away with is a great part of our current problem. Yes, the Usurper Administration is the acme of corruption and oppression – in American terms, anyway – but it’s not as if there were no precedents.

     Parents once understood the principle involved. Disobedience once allowed creates a precedent: “You didn’t object the last time!” It’s hard enough to counter it when it’s uttered by your teenage kid. It has even more force when invoked by legislators. And the number of times we’ve allowed the federal government to go beyond its Constitutional bounds is beyond my ability to count.

     The worst of the consequences has been the mobilization of a substantial portion of the populate – the Takers and Fakers – against the Makers. Political polarization before this day was founded on differences in approach to problems we all agreed upon. Today it proceeds from differences in fundamentals: individual rights, the constraint of non-political evils, and the limits of America’s responsibilities to non-Americans.

     What’s that you say? You’re a good person? You don’t want anything that’s not yours by right? I shan’t argue. You could be right. But then, you’re a mere expository fiction, a rhetorical convenience. But hearken to this: There are a lot of not-good people out there. People who believe they can do essentially whatever they want to you, as long as the government does it for them. They’d rather not wield the guns themselves, but apart from that…

     Darleen Click’s essay on not trusting the Democrats is much on my mind this morning. Give it a look. Then have a gander at this old piece of mine and reflect on how hard it has become to trust anyone you don’t know personally. What’s their agenda? What do they want from me? are the questions uppermost in millions of Americans’ minds today. The answers are generally unpleasant, when there are answers to be had.

     Present trends continuing essentially unmodified, we are entering an era of distrust by default. To extend your trust to another, such that you will routinely rely on him in word and deed, will demand of you an unprecedented degree of personal knowledge – a degree of intimacy that would astonish our forebears. Yet it’s entirely reasonable. Dark forces are at work on him, you know. They offer him rewards for betraying your confidences. And while it’s not the case that “every man has his price,” quite a lot of people do – and it can prove to be lower than you might think.

Beware those who promote fear.
Beware those who shout Emergency! to deny you time to think.
Beware your own weakness before the temptation to profit at another’s expense by betraying him to those who wish him harm.
Beware above all other things the impulse to evade the judgment of your conscience in the oldest and most contemptible of all evasions:

“Everyone else is doing it.”

     And allow the betrayers nothing further.