We live in a constitutional republic. At least that’s what we’re intended to have, but if we’re not careful it will morph into a constitutional monarchy. In a constitutional republic, the rule of law is preeminent, along with individual sovereignty and the government operates with the consent of the governed. In a constitutional monarchy, the people are ruled by edict emanating from the executive, who casts himself above the rule of law. And this is where we have devolved in these Obama years: rule by executive order, memoranda, and bureaucratic fiat — we are not being governed.
And just like the recent EPA regulations on energy based on climate change assertions, we have another Obama edict with which we must contend.
As reported by Fox News, “President Obama on Monday announced a new executive order that prevents federal agencies from making job-applicants reveal they have a criminal record as part of his overall criminal justice reform effort.
The so-called “drop the box” initiative would allow prospective employees not to check a box on some federal applications that acknowledges a criminal record.
“It is relevant to find out if somebody has a criminal record,” Obama said at an event in Newark, N.J. “I’m not suggesting ignore it. I’m suggesting that when it comes to applications, give folks a chance to get through the door.”
The president said 19 states and major U.S. companies such as Koch Industries, Target and Walmart have already removed the question from applications, and he urged Congress to pass legislation to expand the effort. “My hope is this becomes a basic principle across our society,” said Obama, whose Democratic two-term presidency ends in just 14 months. New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed such legislation into law last year. Criminal justice reform has gotten bipartisan support on Capitol Hill from Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the chamber’s Judiciary Committee, and Kentucky’s Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential candidate. New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker is among congressional Democrats supporting such reform.”
Here is my first problem with this little edict. There are consequences to breaking laws and instead of trying to create some social utopian happy-land, perhaps we should make people more accountable and responsible for their actions.
We are shifting the responsibility to others in some perverted effort to advance “social justice.” Let me provide an example: does this new executive order mean someone can apply to teach at a Department of Defense School, have a criminal record for being a child sexual predator, and not be compelled to reveal it on his job application? Does this mean someone seeking employment with the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t have to disclose a criminal record of fraud and embezzlement? Well, as a second thought, based on the recent House VA hearing where the two agency employees pleaded the fifth multiple times, we already have criminals working in the VA.
Everyone wants to throw a big pity party for those who have committed offenses and have a criminal record. What about the law-abiding citizens who may have no idea who will be working beside them? I’m all for someone having a second chance, if they’ve earned it. But it’s not incumbent on others to dismiss and make excuses for the crimes you’ve committed. As the song goes, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” As a matter of integrity, I think a person with a criminal record should want a potential employer to know it. But they need to show a burning desire in their heart to change themselves and make a better way.
I remember two Soldiers in my battalion who just a month before our combat deployment to Iraq came up hot on a drug test. The standard procedure was to initiate separation procedures after non-judicial punishment against them. As they stood before me for their punishment — they had gone down to Austin and smoked weed over the weekend — I asked them why. Why would they, knowing we were about to deploy, abandon their unit and let their fellow Soldiers down? They began to cry and sad they were sorry. They admitted to me before their chain of command that they’d made a bad decision and didn’t want to be kicked out before a time when the unit needed them. And so I told them to do one thing: I had them both tell me the phone numbers of their mothers and told them to call and tell them what they had done — they both did.
Their mothers then asked me not to discharge their sons, and I did not. They deployed, and served honorably — sadly, one lost his life. His loss devastated our unit and I will never forget kneeling over him as he breathed his last, and traveling to Balad AB as his commander accompanying his body and identifying him for the medical records.
He died with honor, and part of that was taking responsibility for his actions, which had been in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
This absurd definition of social justice flying around isn’t about accepting responsibility, it’s about making excuses. As an employer, I would appreciate it more if someone admitted what they’d done, but looked me in the eye and restored my confidence and belief to be given a second chance. We don’t need politicians enacting edicts. Let honorable men and women earn the privilege to be employed. Heck, perhaps many in Washington D.C. don’t want to have to check that box themselves considering their certifiable nefarious and criminal actions — someone tell me where $43 million went for a gas station in Afghanistan.
Lesson to be learned here: government, politicians and edicts cannot give a person dignity or esteem. As my own mother, Elizabeth “Snooks” West, taught me — “self-esteem only comes from doing ‘esteemable’ things.” An executive order removing a certain check box ain’t gonna do it folks. It comes from you.
But if we allow others to believe they can grant us dignity and esteem, we shall lose that sense of the indomitable individual ability to become a victor and become nothing more than a nation of perpetual victims.