Sharyl Atkisson, an investigative journalist formerly of CBS News, compiled this timeline of events and instances regarding government surveillance of Americans during the Obama years. Read it.

Consider the high hopes that came in with Obama. Consider the long history of transgressions of politicians and other government types, high and low, left and right, that prompted Obama’s pledge of transparency. Consider the reality vs that pledge.

Now, ask yourself if you trust the government not to misuse its vast powers. Not a Democratic government, not a Republican government, “the government.”

There’s a simple reality. People in public service are still people. They have goals, they have agendas, they have personal biases and preferences, and they are as susceptible to the corrupting effect of power and the temptation to use the giant box full of tools at the government’s disposal in unintended, unsavory, immoral, and possibly illegal ways. Politics may draw do-gooders, but it also certainly draws those attracted to power, and what good is being in a position of power if you cannot wield it? We all know the old adage “power corrupts,” but how many of us actually apply it, especially to “our” party/team/tribe?

Such abuses of power greatly benefit both from default trust of government and from partisan politics. The former is, as PJ O’Rourke put it, like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. The latter is the childish “the other side is evil and would do worse” excusing of bad acts by people of one’s own tribe. Neither serves the public good, neither does us any good, and neither is excusable.

There are mountains of examples and evidence supporting distrust of government. Our Constitution was written with distrust of government as a foundational premise. I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, a liberal or a conservative. No one you elect will be fully trustworthy, and even those who strive to be so will have many who are far less pure of motive surrounding them.

What’s your answer?

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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