Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Far away. Stay far, far, away.

Columnist Annamarie Rienzi argues that we should be reassessing the role of government in 2016

Far away. Stay far, far, away.

After enduring a long and grueling primary season, an outsider may expect the resulting candidates to be the best that their parties have to offer. Instead, the Democratic party announced that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be its nominee for the presidency and the Republican party nominated business mogul Donald Trump.

These two individuals, according to a Tipp Index poll on favorability, are two of the least popular nominees in American history. Regardless of whether or not you buy into that admittedly subjective absolute, the indisputable fact behind it is that the group of people who dislike either of the candidates is large, and the fervor with which they dislike them is stronger than usual for a presidential election. Put differently, the group of people supporting one candidate because of their hatred or fear of the other candidate characterizes a large part of  the electorate.

Yes, to the disgust of my liberal peers, as well as those in my own party, I have a laundry list of reservations when it comes to the prospect of Secretary Clinton or Donald Trump becoming president of the United States. I am saddened for my classmates, those in the 18-22 year old age range, who feel as though they are forced to make such a polarizing choice, especially with the many tragedies that recently occurred in the country. Take, for example, the brutal murders of members of the black community which have prompted the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. The specific instance of the  killing of Philando Castile in July provides a salient example, where an agent of the government was not protecting the rights of the citizen; rather, he was superseding the rights of the individual.

In this historic election cycle, it is vital that all Americans reassess how they believe the government should interact with them.

In my view, there is no question in my mind that the government is overstepping its prescribed role every single day. Yes, the role of the federal government is a vitally important one—and one that is laid out very clearly in the Constitution. However, our nation is now sitting idly by while the elastic clause of the Constitution is being abused into irrelevancy. Additionally, our president routinely oversteps his role by attempting to use executive action to perform duties that are not his to do, such as immigration reform, new gun control regulations and threatening to take action on climate change if Congress refuses to act.

Chief among the laundry list of reservations that I was speaking of earlier is that I have a very strong suspicion that both Trump and Clinton would abuse the power of executive action, and threaten the inherent rights of the American people.

At this point, I can imagine that many of you are thinking that our rights are granted to us by the government. Au contraire! The fact of the matter is that the Bill of Rights was implemented to protect and preserve the rights of Americans, not grant them. Going back to the tragic death of Philando Castile: if the police officer had done his job of protecting the individual who was lawfully practicing his Second Amendment rights, perhaps we wouldn’t be reading about his death in the news. This is a case where erring on the side of liberty might have saved a life.

And that is the reason for a central governing body: to protect our rights as human beings. Our right to speak as we wish. Our right to praise a higher being in a way that we see fit. Our right to protect ourselves against our government, should it stop representing the people’s best interest. Our right to keep our property free of state agents and out of the sight of the state, unless we volunteer to do so, or if there is reason to believe that we are acting contrary to the laws of the land. Our right to a fair trial with due process, and the opportunity to have a good defense. Our right to have our state government handle things that are not specifically stated to be federal jurisdiction in the Constitution.

It is clear to me that we have to work to protect our rights in this unpredictable election cycle more than ever.

Annamarie Rienzi is a junior in the School of Public Affairs and is a columnist for The Eagle.

arienzi@theeagleonline.com, @annamarienzi


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