In the view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here.” These sparkling words were part of Justice John Marshall Harlan’s famous dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, which drove a stake through the heart of race-based segregation. But since then, we’ve fallen far from Harlan’s understanding.
As Glenn Reynolds writes in his latest op-ed, there is a ruling class, which is composed of bureaucrats and career politicians, complete with titles of nobility (e.g., our anti-republican habit of calling citizens by the public titles they once held long after they’ve left office). The worst part? They are totally sealed off from the consequences of their decisions, having no skin in the game.
When the IRS’s Lois Lerner deliberately targeted conservative groups — something the IRS admitted and apologized for — she retired with her pension and faced no charges. When Chinese hackers stole a vast database of secret military and intelligence personnel information, a blow some experts called a “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” nobody lost their job or went to jail. Accountability, it seems, is for the rest of us, the little people.
If this isn’t corrected soon, how long the United States will remain a country founded on the Declaration of Independence and the institutional structures of the Constitution remains anyone’s guess.