By Jeff Rutherford
Are you a cheap conquest? An easy catch? Will you consent to anyone that promises to be immediately pleasing? Do you avoid inquiring (or even wondering) about motives, preferring a superficial simplicity?
Or do you make your consent hard to get? Saved for someone who is committed to respecting you in the long run? Do you expect your chosen one to reciprocate by showing you solid fidelity and integrity in everything they do – even when nobody is watching them?
Let’s name it the General Law of Human Reciprocity:
In human social selections, your consensual standards set the height of the bar your ‘chosen one’ will try to leap.
Low bar = low results. High bar = high results.
This rule of thumb about human nature is widely useful, I dare say. In this article I will apply it to political behavior – of the governed and the governors. Especially the act of voting for political candidates.
A Case Study in Social Selection Standards: The 2016 Presidential Race
We needn’t look any further than the current presidential campaign, which for the first time in U.S. history has a declared candidate – Hillary Clinton – under FBI criminal investigation. We have the perfect chance to analyze political reciprocity here. What standards are voters demanding? What standards is Ms. Clinton exhibiting? And what do these behaviors reveal about Ms. Clinton and about American voters?
For those of you unfamiliar with the details of this controversial litigation and investigation, Jonah Goldberg recently itemized the long list of smoking guns in the ClintonEmail.com investigation in a National Review Online article.
Also, I list here the most applicable U.S. laws and State Dept. regulations for the custodianship and retention of federal records (paper and electronic), for your study:
- S. Code, Title 44, Chapter 31, Section 3101 “Records Management by Agency Heads; General Duties”
- Public Law 104-231, 104th Congress “Electronic Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Amendments of 1996”
- National Archives and Records Administration CFR-2012, Title 36, v3, Part 1222 “Creation and Maintenance of Federal Records”
- S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 101, Section 2071 “Concealment, Removal, or Mutilation Generally”
- In the case of classified information:
- S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 93, Section 1924 “Unauthorized Removal and Retention of Classified Documents or Material”
- S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 37, Section 793 “Gathering, Transmitting or Losing Defense Information.”
- U.S. State Department Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) established 1995:
- FAM Volume 5 – Information Management, Chapter 440 “Electronic Records, Facsimile Records, and Electronic Mail Records”
U.S. District of Columbia Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan (ironically appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994) announced on Aug 20th that Ms. Clinton’s unique email arrangement violated government policies – even those in place during Ms. Clinton’s service as U.S. Secretary of State. Judge Sullivan pressed the Justice Department and State Department to redouble their efforts to logically justify Ms. Clinton’s actions, and to expedite the investigation of the email server that was finally turned over to the FBI on Aug 12th after being wiped clean.
In response to a Sept 4th filing of a proposed “Preservation Order” by legal group Judicial Watch that all remaining available email records be immediately located and secured until all aspects of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation can be resolved, the Justice Department lawyers representing their “clients” (the State Department and Ms. Clinton) filed a response to the Court last Wednesday, Sept 9th. This is not a Justice Department ruling, as has been portrayed in partisan media and blogs. It is merely a defense lawyer’s statement filed in support of his client.
This filing expresses the Executive Branch’s legal view that Ms. Clinton had every right to self-supervise the purging of what she and her personal lawyer privately determined to be ‘personal’ emails (31,380) before turning over what she deemed to be ‘official’ emails (55,000 printed pages) to the State Department — 21 stubborn months after leaving the State Department. They assert that the FOIA does not apply to, and the Court has no jurisdiction over, Ms. Clinton’s personal records.
Incidentally, this is just one of the 30 unresolved FOIA suits relating to Ms. Clinton’s service at the U.S. State Dept. All of these emails had been co-mingled on her home-brew server for years. It is the Executive Branch’s legal position that private citizen Clinton and her private lawyer were qualified “officials” to identify and remove emails they determined weren’t “federal records,” even in the midst of dozens of unresolved FOIA requests stemming from Benghazi issues of false government statements made to the press.
In the Justice Department’s statement to the Court, there is absolutely no acknowledgement that Ms. Clinton could not possibly be viewed by any rational person as an impartial actor in these records management and FOIA compliance decisions. Essentially the Justice Department lawyers assert that since there is no proof of incorrect or inadvertent deletion of federal records when she deleted personal emails, there is no reason for her to turn over any remaining copies of her 31,380 emails deemed by her and her private lawyer as “personal.” The lawyers assert that there is no evidence that she deleted evidence, and therefore there is no reason and no jurisdiction for the Court to force her to produce the purged emails – which paradoxically would contain the evidence of any incorrect determinations of federal vs. personal records. All while dozens of unresolved FOIA suits hang over the State Dept. and Ms. Clinton. Not to mention the FBI criminal investigation of the classified data found among the 55,000 pages of federal records she turned over.
Do you see the Catch-22 that Ms. Clinton is hiding behind? Under the cloud of open FOIA suits and FBI criminal investigation, she asserts in essence: ‘There is no evidence that I deleted evidence. Examine my [wiped] server all you want. I won’t disclose my personal emails that used to be on it, because they’re none of your business. Have a nice day, and vote for me.‘
This is the ethical posture she has adopted while seeking the Democrat nomination for U.S. President. This is the height of the bar she is willing to leap. Her standard of reciprocity. Unable to achieve and respect the higher standard of ethical integrity, she instead skates out to, and obliterates, the razor-thin line of legality.
What Consensual Standards Should You Apply?
Elected government representatives bear the ethical burden of a higher standard of openness in their lawful behavior than private citizens, as the reciprocal payback for receiving our trust in their ethical use of Constitutionally-limited delegated powers. From America’s elected government officeholders, we should all expect transparency, integrity, humility, realization that they are public servants and not a privileged ruling class, and recognition that the laws of the United States apply to everyone equally.
The burden of proof is on THEM to show auditable, ethical, accountable behavior in their every public act. That ethical burden exists ALL the time, not just when questions or scandals arise. This is the critical political reciprocity between the governed and the governors that is necessary in a Constitutional Republic where ALL citizens are equal under the law.
A Final Message
For any Democrats who find themselves willing, maybe even eager, to overlook all this and vote for Ms. Clinton anyway, I leave you with this:
Government officials and employees must face up to the fact that even the “appearance of impropriety” is unacceptable from a standpoint of the ethics of public service. You give the benefit of the doubt (quite blindly and naively, it seems to me) to public servants, while I do not. If you’ve never thought about or accepted this distinction between public servants and private citizens, please stop and do so now.
When you let Hillary Clinton indulge her imperial conceit and elevate herself to a ruling-class level significantly higher than yourself, you meekly let her trample upon your individual self-esteem. Why do you not exercise the God-given liberty that America’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution guaranteed for you?
In America, we don’t live under the arbitrary whim of the corruptible humans we elect to govern us. They govern by the aggregate consent from all of us. That’s why I make an effort to get people to deeply consider just exactly to what, and to whom, they are consenting.