Monday, April 19, 2010

Trampling The Rules of Justice

Much of my time recently has been spent explaining to people the issues surrounding Gold Butte. People want to know who is involved, what’s going on and what the upshot of all of this is going to be. If I had to sum it all up into a concise one word answer I would describe it as politics.

I have spent much of my time meeting with our representatives from the local level on up to our congressional leaders and their staff. Everyone tells me that time is of the essence concerning Gold Butte. However, no one can clearly tell me (or wants to admit) why it has to be done right now. Washington D.C. and political factions are pushing this agenda and they are pushing it hard.

I have talked much in the past about the interest groups that are getting involved in the Gold Butte issue. There are many groups involved and the ranges of interests that they represent are vast and diverse. I have expressed my concern about these interest groups and their dominance on the issue. My worry over political factions and their role on the issue has only grown. This has led me to look back on the constitution and the writings of our founding fathers and what they had to say concerning political factions and special interest. This led me to the Federalist Paper No. 10 written by James Madison.

In the Federalist Paper No. 10, written by James Madison, the opening paragraph states, “A factious spirit has tainted our public administration.” If nothing else I guess it’s good to know that not much has changed. Madison defines clearly:

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”
Madison goes into great detail on the issue of political factions and special interests in this paper. He essentially states that dividing into groups and aligning by our beliefs is part of human nature. He outlines ways to counter special interest or political factions and also gives both the pros and cons to these ideas. After he explains all of this in conclusion he states:

 “The inference to which we are brought is, that the CAUSES of faction cannot be removed, and that relief is only to be sought in the means of controlling its EFFECTS
So the question that I pose is how do we control its effect? Many have suggested that legislation from congress would settle this issue. Luckily Madison wrote on and gave us more insight into the political process and settling our differences.
“It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them all subservient to the public good.”
My suggestion is not looking to our “enlighten statesmen” but look to the processes and procedures that have been set in place by our government to handle this situation. Our founding fathers foresaw what would come to pass. We shouldn’t look to “enlightened statesman” to handle this issue; we should look to the impartial agency that is charged with managing this area. This is the reason we have an agency that is dedicated to managing public lands. Our founding fathers clearly understood that if rival parties were to take over the issues public good would be disregarded and the, “Predominant party would trample on the rules of justice”.
“The public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority”