I've been wanting to weigh in for a while about the NSA, John Swallow, and politics in general, but I haven't really found exactly the right thing I want to say about all of this--until yesterday. I was having my oil changed at Grease Monkey's in Clinton, and their only magazines were Sports Illustrated and People, neither of which were appealing at the time. I always keep a small copy of the Constitution in my purseJumping over to the recent revelations that our phone records are being monitored by the NSA, it is just as vital that we, the people, demand accountability from our government. Regarding this search by our government without the probable cause demanded by the 4th Amendment, a friend commented, "What can be done about it?" What can be done? We can demand that our rights as outlined in the Constitution be respected and honored. Our Washington lawmakers' phones and email in-boxes should be flooded with demands that these illegal practices stop. If we simply complain at the water cooler or post on Facebook, our voices will never be heard and, if we do not speak they cannot listen.for times like this when I need something to read to pass the time. Instead of diving in to Article I like I usually do, I decided to read the inspirational quotes at the beginning of the booklet. I stumbled upon this one by Thomas Jefferson, "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."I think this quote sums up perfectly what we, the people can do about the governmental chaos that surrounds us. John Swallow himself has stated numerous times that the issues regarding his conduct have been, "hyper-politicized by the media" and he is concerned that he is being tried by the media. While I absolutely love the 6th amendment to the Constitution and the rights it affords those accused of crimes, I don't think it applies quite yet. The Utah State Legislature is a body elected by the people to do the work of the people and they alone are tasked with the immensely difficult task of deciding whether or not to begin impeachment proceedings on our State Attorney General. Potentially starting impeachment proceedings on any elected official is a big deal indeed, and it is not a task to be taken lightly. In order for the people and legislature to be on the same page, for the people to be able to support their legislators, and for those legislators to accurately represent those people, the people need to be informed about the goings on. A recent survey showed that 71% of Utahns polled support beginning impeachment proceedings for our Attorney General. We are calling for a thorough investigation and our legislators are listening.
Finally, I'd like to bring these thoughts back home. I had an interesting conversation with a neighbor at Wal-Mart about a month ago. We were discussing the update to the General Plan. He said that he would like to see some areas that are zoned for 4-plexes so that he could build a few within the city. I told him that there wasn't much public support for that, but that the plan isn't complete and would consider his thoughts at the public hearing, if he shares them with us. He immediately replied that he doesn't have time to attend the public hearing. I suggested writing a letter, which he also dismissed. Although he was happy to complain in the parking lot, he wasn't willing to do what it takes to have his voice heard. I did relay his comments on to the general plan committee on his behalf and will repeat them to the Planning Commission at the public hearing, but his own voice would have been so much more effective. I have attended nearly every Clinton City Council meeting in the last three years. I have watched numerous times as the minds of the Council and the future of our city have been changed by the voices of two or three citizens. I, myself, have stood and spoken numerous times and at least sometimes they have listened.
Regardless of the level of government, it is vital that we, the people, keep it in check. If we simply keep silent when government oversteps its bounds, when leaders are corrupt, or when we simply disagree with the path being taken we risk, as Mr. Jefferson warned, allowing tyranny to gain a foothold. It is imperative to be involved, be informed, and be vocal so that this fate never befalls our government at any level.