Election 2016 has taught us as much about America as the two candidates vying to lead her. There is more at play, and at stake, in this election than red states or blue states, primaries or polls. The very institutions of the American Republic are on the line. The unfolding saga of Secretary Clinton’s handling of classified information over an unsecured server, and the resulting FBI investigation, has profound implications for the Rule of Law in America.
The words “Equal Justice Under Law,” engraved on the edifice of the United States Supreme Court, state a foundational value of our Republic: that the law, not men, rules. Unfortunately for us all, we are witnessing the breakdown of this bedrock of free and responsible government. The extent to which Hillary Clinton sought to conceal her correspondence with her staff and foreign contacts establishes clear intent to violate U.S. Law with regard to the handling of classified information and email communication. Yet, in spite of hundreds of emails containing sensitive and / or classified material, Clinton staffers taking hammers to Blackberries and iPhones, and the use of a BleachBit to wipe her private servers, the FBI Director did not recommend charges because, he claims, criminal intent could not be established.
Regardless what happens in this newest round of FBI investigations into Hillary Clinton’s emails, one thing is abundantly clear: there are now two standards of law, one for the rich and powerful and another for everyone else. This was powerfully illustrated by the case of Kristian Saucier, a U.S. Navy serviceman, who was sentenced to one year in prison for taking classified photos of a nuclear submarine, the USS Alexandria, in 2009. Saucier was sent to jail for far less mishandling of classified information than Secretary Clinton, and lack of “criminal intent” was not an effective defense.
When the the law is no longer the great equalizer, the concept of a democratic republic begins to collapse. Just ask the Romans. In its place, an oligarchy wherein untouchable elites rule over the cowering masses is established. The repository of the voice of the people, the Congress, ends-up holding pointless hearings and is unwilling to exercise its power to check being circumvented by the executive.
This election we have learned that there is an emerging American caste system, wherein political elites stay in power and avoid prosecution regardless of what they do, while everyday Americans are subject to the laws the elites circumvent. In short, we the people are becoming more subjects than citizens in our own country. If the electorate seems more than a little angry this year, this is certainly a major contributing factor.
The only remedy for this trend toward tyranny is that the law be equally applied to all, regardless of their position or prominence. To apply the Latin maxim “may justice be done even if the heavens fall,” justice must be done even if it interferes with political ambitions. Official Washington should not make laws for the rest of us that they will not follow themselves. Congress must be the voice of the people, not aide and abet an out-of-control government in quenching it.