November 23, 2017
Politics & Opinion
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Breaking Bad Habits In Local Government

Councilman Michael Peroutka
Councilman Michael Peroutka's picture
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April 5, 2017

In the first sentence of his famous work titled “Common Sense” – first published on January 10, 1776 – Thomas Paine, political philosopher and theorist and author of a series of essays and pamphlets capturing and expressing the growing desire for American independence, wrote, “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”

Please note that Mr. Paine did not say that a long habit of not thinking something to be wrong makes it right. Rather, he simply suggested that it gives the thing the appearance of “rightness.” Paine went on to argue that the long and patient suffering of the colonists under the abusive and oppressive regime of King George and the English Parliament had become a long and bad habit that needed to be broken.

Considering the many long and bad habits we continue to practice in Anne Arundel County, Thomas Paine's advice to Americans is as timely in 2017 as it was in 1776.

For example, for quite a while now, we have habitually elected to local office men and women who do not share our founders’ belief that the purpose of government is to protect and defend rights and liberties that are granted to men by God and are a part of His created order.

Moreover, as the understanding and acceptance of this traditional (biblical) view of the government’s purpose has waned among officeholders, so has the fidelity to the text of our federal and state constitutions.

This state of affairs was demonstrated recently when the council voted 4-3 to approve a measure (Bill 87-16, regarding suspension of hotel licenses) despite being admonished by the county attorney that the bill contained several provisions that violated the U.S. Constitution.

The ensuing discussion of the four council members who voted for the flawed bill indicated (at least to me) that although they were aware of the constitutional impediments, they did not see it as their duty or responsibility to follow their oath to the Constitution and to vote in accordance with its provisions. In fact, one councilman mockingly informed me that my commitment to constitutionality was all well and good, but that he would rather be committed to “reality.”

In my view, the lack of respect for the federal or state constitutions and the lack of respect for the higher moral law is a serious “reality,” but not a surprising one. And it is not surprising because it reflects the general antipathy that we find in our culture.

With respect to Bill 87-16, I am grateful that County Executive Steve Schuh decided to veto the bill and that he based his veto on constitutional grounds. But the larger question here is whether “we the people” will affirmatively decide to dedicate ourselves to maintaining our constitutional heritage.

If we, as voters in Anne Arundel County, would desire to enjoy and to pass on the “blessings of liberty,” we must break our long and bad habit of electing men and women who are constitutionally apathetic or constitutionally ignorant. After all, why would we expect someone to defend our rights if they don’t know or care where those rights come from or what those rights are?

Ultimately, we must decide to overcome our own antipathy and ignorance. We won’t get a better government than we demand. And we won’t demand that which we don’t appreciate or understand.

Comments

Posted 12/31/1969 07:00 PM

I would urge reader's to question Mr. Peroutka's judgment. Mr. Peroutka was a member of the League of the South until 2014 when he ran for Anne Arundel County Council. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center: “the League of the South is a neo-Confederate group that advocates for a second Southern secession and a society dominated by ‘European Americans.’ The league believes the ‘godly’ nation it wants to form should be run by an ‘Anglo-Celtic’ (read: white) elite.” Mr. Peroutka's affiliation with the League of the South spanned many years. The League and its founder, Michael Hill, have made no secret of their racist, un-American views, so Mr. Peroutka had to have been comfortable with these racists views during his long association with the League. I personally am very concerned that his racist views continue to cloud his judgment as witnessed by his recent resolution condemning the Maryland Trust Act.
MSD's picture

Posted 12/31/1969 07:00 PM

People and their rights and liberties should be protected by the government--even the ones not related to the Bible or Christian God. One in 7 people are non-believers, and the 6 out of 7 who believe in higher-entity don't all believe in Christian God. The government should not be run in accordance to any one particular faith or religion.

Posted 12/31/1969 07:00 PM

Mr. Peroutka cites that his opponents' actions are not in accordance with "their duty or responsibility to follow their oath to the Constitution." But nowhere does he provide the specifics to back up that statement. I could assume that there is some substance to Mr. Peroutka's claim, but without any specifics I will have to assume that his claim is nothing more that the constitutional cloak of invisibility at work. Here is how the cloak works. When your opponent disagrees with your position you claim that your position is right because the Constitution says so. No need to provide any proof, argument, or specifics. The fact that your opinion is in line with the constitution makes it right. No proof or substance to his argument. It is just right because the mantle of the constitution covers his opinion. The supposition is then that Mr. Peroutka's opponents are not following the constitution. I would find that incredulous that for 200 plus years that no one except Mr. Peroutka followed the constitution. Just because his opponents have a different opinion does not mean that they are not following the constitution. And let's be clear Mr. Peroutka's use of the constitution is his opinion and interpretation. If he were a strict original constitutionalist, would he not want to re-institute the 3/5ths rules for counting population and restricting voting rights? Oops forgot, he was a member of the League of the South until 2014 - nice little racist group. A strict constitutionalist would argue that the Air Force could only be a state right. The constitution only allows for and army and navy. Even though balloons were in use. So there is interpretation of the constitution going on all through our history. The founding fathers were much wiser than Mr. Peroutka in that they knew that the government could not exist without compromise of various opinions and what they could not agree on they left for later generations. And they left the future generations with the tools to change when change or could be agreed on. Instead of bashing his opponents, because his opponents are not following his opinions, he needs to learn how to compromise and when to leave things that can't be agreed out of the discussions.

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