The recently-escalated battle between the American people and the TSA is far more important than it first appears. The final outcome of this argument will determine whether we still live in a nation "of the people, by the people, for the people", or whether we have become a soft tyranny where our democratic forms of elections and representatives have been reduced to a meaningless veneer as in the old Soviet Union or Red China.
If America has a single founding principle, it is this: no government has any authority to take any action without the consent of the governed. Our Founding Fathers did not object to the principle of paying taxes per se; they objected strongly to the idea of being forced to pay taxes to a government where they had no input. Freedom's cry was not "No taxation" then, and it isn't now; it was "No taxation without representation." The same goes for any other intrusive regulation.
The concept of "the consent of the governed" means more than just voting, however. A hundred years ago, Prohibition was enacted scrupulously according to democratic forms: Congress and then the required number of states passed a constitutional amendment allowing it, and then Congress and the President passed the Volstead Act enforcing it.
However, events quickly revealed that Prohibition did not have the consent of the governed, or at least a very sizable minority of them: whole sectors of American society insisted on having their booze no matter what the law said. The end result was vast wealth poured into crime syndicates; eventually Prohibition was repealed with the nation much the worse off for the experience.
There are many laws on the books today which do not really have the consent of the governed, but the government enforces them with a light touch so as not to provoke a backlash. Consider speed limits: almost everybody speeds, and the police almost never ticket people for going just a hair over. You usually have to be speeding by a good bit, and even then, getting caught is relatively rare. If the police seriously tried to ticket every single speeder, voters would demand that the limits be changed.
Or so we've always assumed - after all, government ultimately answers to the people, doesn't it?
We are about to find out. There is no question that America is in the midst of a long-overdue revolt against intrusive government on many levels, but the TSA's indignities and incompetence reach into every middle-class life. The molestations, porno-scans, and general harassment set off so many warning signals it's a wonder anyone's still flying at all.
The people have made their fury loudly know. The TSA's response? Screw you!
Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, said "if people want to travel by some other means," they have that right - which is perfectly true but entirely beside the point. The TSA's chief John Pistole was even more blunt, as the Wall Street Journal reports:
Faced with growing public criticism of new airport security measures, the head of the Transportation Security Administration has a simple message: They’re necessary, and they’re going to stay for now. The good news for wary travelers is that the TSA has no plans to ratchet up airport screening even further to combat potential threats.
That's the good news - that things aren't going to get any worse, at least for now? Is this how public servants are supposed to treat the public who are their masters?
It's clear that the TSA no longer considers the flying public to be their own higher authority; quite the contrary, they are subjects to be ordered around at a whim and made to do whatever the Powers That Be wish on whatever pretext comes to hand.
Let's be clear: neither the new porno-scanners nor the fondling-patdown could have caught the Underwear Bomber, much less a terrorist like the one in Saudi Arabia who shoved the explosives up his butt. After nearly a decade, the TSA has yet to catch one single terrorist using any of their airport inspections - all the terrorists who've been caught, have been caught by intelligence agencies using surveillance and counterintelligence techniques, not goons with gloves and wands.
So, we have the public being forced to do something they very strongly do not want to do, for no reason at all; they are protesting loudly; and the government blithely blows them off. Something is very badly wrong here.
We cannot help but think of German poet Bertold Brecht's arch observation about a Communist government's dissatisfaction with its revolting people:
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
Which of course is what the Left has tried to do with their repeated calls for illegal-alien amnesty and persistent voting fraud.
To sum up: we have an arm of the government openly and public committing sexual molestation on protesting innocent Americans, arrogantly proclaiming their intention to continue doing it no matter what, and merrily agreeing that the Constitution is a dead letter:
Nobody likes to have their 4th Amendment violated going through a security line, but truth of the matter is, we're gonna have to do it.
What? Is that all it takes? A simple pronouncement of official regret for the passing of our founding documents, and then off we go into total tyranny?
This conflict with the TSA is merely a skirmish in the far larger ongoing war to determine if there are any limits whatsoever on Big Government, but it's perhaps the most telling one yet.
If Americans will permit their wives, children, and themselves, to be sexually molested and openly humiliated in full view of the public by uniformed government operatives - in what still purports to be a representative democracy - then, indeed, they will tolerate anything, and there is little hope for the future.
This battle must be won, for to lose it means losing everything.