What is there about our constitution that can cause people to twist the English language into the convoluted arguments put forth by the “militants” who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to protest the government policies on public lands?
America has evolved since the adoption of the document in 1787. Women can vote. Slavery is abolished. Certain human beings are no longer counted as a fraction of a person. We amended the original and ordered everyone to stop drinking and hardly anyone stopped so we amended the document again and now we can drink guilt free. Today we argue over whether corporations are covered under the first amendment right to free speech and there is talk of another amendment. We have a somewhat burdensome government and the tree of liberty needs occasional trimming, but the pronoun that describes us best is the collective one; it’s WE the People. Together we get to decide things.
Within that collective concept we are individuals with certain enumerated rights. The government may not take our property without just compensation. WE, on the other hand, may not take over someone else’s property. Driving a pickup truck onto the refuge and threatening the rest of us with firearms is tantamount to flashing a pistol in a store and claiming the merchandise by force of arms. Expecting to have the government turn over to an individual the property that belongs to all of us doesn’t compute in my book and I’m one of the WE that owns and uses that land.
I believe that some of this arises from too much time watching old western movies. As a kid I watched white people with guns committing genocide and driving Native Americans either onto reservations or to their deaths. Sheep men fenced the prairie and cattle men chased them off. “Sod buster” was some kind of insult. Some of the Bundy bunch watched those films and came to believe they had earned the right to free use of the public land just by being there and riding their horses around on the land while armed. Some have decided to not pay the rent they agreed to pay. If I rent your house, does that mean that after a certain number of years I can stop paying? Do my children now own that house?
A few years ago some whacko “Constitutionalists” in Washington State printed up checks claiming they were entitled to a share of the government. One even bought a BMW with his phony check. Then they filed liens on the houses of judges, legislators and others creating havoc until the liens got lifted. I think it’s time for a reversal. Bundy Senior owes us a million or so bucks for using our land for grazing and refusing to pay the bills The Federal Government should file a lien on his ranch. Maybe it won’t cause him to pay his bills, but he won’t be able to sell the property or pass it on to his sons when they get out of jail.