Don’t Fence Me In

Americans seem to get twitchy when their Executive has very mild instances of trespass. It seems like only yesterday when the White House had to deal with party crashers. Now it’s a man with a knife. Did he intend to use the knife? Hey, who knows… Although, if he meant Mr. Obama harm, it’s tough to see why he would have left “800 rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete in his car,” when he went on his fence climb. Now, reportedly, the Secret Service wants to screen “tourists and other visitors at checkpoints before they enter the public areas in front of the White House.” Not that such a method would have had any effect on the intruder, but in these kinds of circumstances the syllogism is frequently, “We need to do something; this is something; therefore let’s do it.”

Like last time, Leopold Kohr hangs heavy in the air, writing in 1957 in The Breakdown of Nations:

A citizen of the Principality of Liechtenstein, whose population numbers less than fourteen thousand, (in 1957 when Kohr was writing) desirous to see His Serene Highness the Prince and Sovereign, Bearer of many exalted orders and Defender of many exalted things, can do so by ringing the bell at his castle gate. However serene His Highness may be, he is never an inaccessible stranger. A citizen of the massive American republic, on the other hand, encounters untold obstacles in a similar enterprise. Trying to see his fellow citizen President, whose function is to be his servant, not his master, he may be sent to an insane asylum for observation or, if found sane, to a court on charges of disorderly conduct. Both happened in 1950… You will say that in a large power such as the United States informal relationships such as exist between government and citizen in small countries are technically unfeasible. This is quite true. But this is exactly it. Democracy in its full meaning is impossible in a large state which, as Aristotle already observed, is ‘almost incapable of constitutional government’. (pg. 99-100)

What’s very strange is how, this time, many people (up to and including Congress) seem to want even more distance between the President and the people he serves, even more of a bubble cutting him (or her) off.

Of course, we’re a bigger country than we were even in 2009, so I suppose Kohr would not be surprised.