How can the citizenry trust that authority if the authority is blatantly and unapologetically extorting money from the people, profiting from them, and threatening them? When that authority unfairly targets political groups because of political belief, how can the citizenry trust that authority? When the authority continues to vote themselves raises and will not set term limits per the wishes of the American people, how can the citizenry trust that authority? And when the Constitution says that the people are the authority, but the government continues to do things that hurt them, how can the citizenry trust that authority?

Rep. Maxine Waters was once dubbed one of the nation’s “most corrupt” elected officials by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for pushing a bailout for a bank tied to her family. She continues to get elected (Suebsaeng, 2017).

Bakersfield Police Detectives Damacio Diaz and Patrick Mara were caught in a police corruption scandal involving cash, drugs, and protection (Winton, 2016).

NYPD officers Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa worked for the Organized Crime Homicide Unit… or so everyone thought. They were working as hitmen and moles for the Lucchese crime family. In 2006,  they were convicted of racketeering, obstruction of justice, extortion, and eight counts of murder and conspiracy (Marzulli & Mcshane, 2009).

Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless and David Newland, chief of staff to the Commander of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, along with seven other high-ranking Navy officers, were charged in a federal grand jury indictment with acting as a team of moles for a foreign defense contractor, trading military secrets and substantial influence for sex parties with prostitutes, extravagant dinners and luxury travel (D.O.J., 2017).

September 11, 2012, Hillary Clinton, acting as Secretary of State, allowed politics to control her response to an attack on an American compound in Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of Americans. The following day, she lied to the American people to try and cover up her mistakes by suggesting the attack was a spontaneous response to an internet video (Boyle, 2012)(N.R., 2016).

Eric Holder (Former Attorney General of the United States) was the first attorney general in history to be cited for criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to divulge documents about D.O.J. lies to Congress about Operation Fast and Furious – a DOJ/ATF “gun-running” scheme that sold guns to Mexican drug cartels and involved the deaths of hundreds of Mexican citizens, and the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry (Fitton, 2012).

June 20, 2012, Barack Obama responded to a request from Attorney General Eric Holder and proclaimed “executive privilege” to protect the Attorney General from being prosecuted for failing to provide Congress with the Fast and Furious documents (Fitton, 2012).

This list could go on and on, but I am simply demonstrating that corruption is literally from top to bottom. There are plenty of cops, military, and government officials that are corrupt, and yet the people are expected to accept it and trust them anyway. Why?

I was speaking with an active duty military member of 16 years recently. We discussed trust and the importance of trust regarding authority and leadership. She stated that as a military member, she would like to think that when most people see her in uniform, they will trust that she was there in their best interest or would have the best intentions in mind. I think most who wear a uniform would LIKE to think that, and probably do. However, the reality is much different, and I believe it is essential to understand why.

I do not believe that our society has trust in government anymore, and this goes for those in uniform. I believe it is because so many in government turn pseudo-transformational or even transactional after getting into their position. The trust begins to leave by those on the receiving end of their “justice.” Essentially, quite a few that get into government eventually turn into self-serving authoritarians who are unwilling to encourage independent thought in their “subordinates” or simply care very little for their subordinates in general. This is scary when you think about it.

Sounds brutal. Well, consider the definition. I am using “authoritarian” in the context of someone who favors or enforces strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom. Does that not clearly define our current situation?

Think about this: Are you comforted or alarmed when you see red and blue in your rearview mirror? When you think about being asked to disarm but still see military equipment in the streets, do you feel safer, or do you feel fear?

Coming from a military and L.E.O. family, this is a harsh reality for me to discuss. The sad part is that it is reaffirmed by the idea that all of these folks swear an oath to defend something that most people simply do not take the time to read. I think many in our society are starting to see this and are beginning to ask the question, “Exactly how can someone defend an idea when they do not even subscribe to that idea?” or “How can I trust someone who gives their word and continues to break it?

Trust is huge. We can likely all concede to the idea that actions speak louder than words, especially when we all know that trust can take years to build yet moments to destroy. The truth is that sometimes it is not even the individual soldier or officer that broke that trust; it is someone else wearing the same uniform or a government agency imposing the infringement. We must all understand that one bad apple spoils the bunch, and “just doing your job” wasn’t even an admissible excuse during the Nuremberg trials.

I am not just picking on the police or military here. I am using them as an example because they are supposed to be the “Front Line.” The truth is that the problem is that all government entities are working together for the ultimate result. That is not just my opinion. A national survey by Pew Research Center found that the overall level of trust in government remains near historic lows; just 20% say they trust the government to always do what is right (Maniam, 2017). It is a fairly simple concept. Would you trust a known liar when they say they are telling the truth? Would you trust an organization known for its corruption when they tell you that what they do is for you?

The harsh truth remains. Our society is losing, if not already, most of its trust in the government. Can it be restored? Perhaps, but I would imagine it would have to start with correcting the issues we face along with strict adherence to the document they swore to protect. This will require learning that document. It would also require weeding out the bad apples, policing yourselves, and being the example to follow instead of quietly allowing tyranny. These are just some things to consider, I suppose. That is if anyone even cares about trust. Understand that this message is for anyone who works in government. When you participate in removing individual liberties, stealing money, or trying to meet quotas, you are a problem and are helping to create a much bigger problem in the long run.

I am reminded of the court case United States of America v. Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler. Let me preface this with the idea that Kansas is supposedly a “Constitution Friendly” state and (at the time of this writing) ranks 16th in the nation in personal economic freedoms according to the CATO Institute (CATO, 2017). I suppose that just makes what I am about to share that much worse.

Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler of Kansas were arrested for both following laws and violating another law simultaneously. Kansas passed the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act (K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 50-1201 through 50-1211), which said that firearms, accessories, and ammunition manufactured and kept in Kansas are exempt from federal gun control laws. This law was the law of Kansas and was supposedly backed by the power of Kansas lawmakers, law enforcers, and the Constitution. Or so Cox and Kettler thought.

Cox was named for advertising his business as a silencer maker (despite not having federal licenses) and for owning and selling suppressors that he did not pay a special tax on or register in accordance with the National Firearms Act. Kettler was named for the purchase of a gun silencer from Cox. All of these actions were supposed to be considered legal in the State of Kansas.

Regardless, Cox and Kettler were brought up on Federal Charges and sent to Federal Court. This means that any appeal would go to a higher Federal Court. The deck was stacked against them.

You would think the State of Kansas would step in to save the day, right? Unfortunately, the state of Kansas and law enforcement officials (which said it was a felony for the federal government to enforce Federal Firearms Laws in Kansas) did nothing to protect them. And regardless of the fundamental errors that were entirely unfair to Cox and Kettler, errors that appropriate instructions could not correct to the jury, no mistrial was provided, and not a single Federal actor was taken into custody by the State of Kansas. Sure, Cox and Kettler were spared prison time (probably due to public pressure), but they kept the title of “felon” (A.P., 2017). I want you to understand that this means they lose the “privilege” to vote, travel abroad, the right to bear arms or own guns, get a job in certain fields, and so on. How is that even remotely fair?

Yet, officials seem shocked when few have any real faith that officials will “do the right thing.” I wonder how any resident of Kansas can have faith in their legal system when their legal system refuses to do the right thing when it is needed most? How can the residents of Kansas trust their law enforcement officials when their law enforcement officials selectively enforce their own laws? Think about this fallout, then know that this issue is nationwide.

The result is a devastating one for everyone. You need to think of it as the “butterfly effect” or simply “cause and effect.” I am always amazed at the confusion of some officers or government officials that do not understand where this resentment or lack of trust comes from. Let me help clear this up.

Imagine that one government official messes up and does something unconstitutional against a resident of their town that results in a fine or jail time. This would require law enforcement and courts (a.k.a. government). This resident will begin to classify anyone in government as the enemy. Because of their schooling, this person already associates the Constitution with the people in government. The result is that this person might associate (even subconsciously) the Constitution with the enemy. They share this sad and unfortunate idea with someone who has had a similar experience. Then what?

From there, they begin to disregard and discredit everything remotely associated with the current government and will want to change it into something they think is better. So they turn to alternate ideas such as socialism and Anarcho-Capitalism, and the next thing you know… idiots are elected. Seem weird? Look around.

When someone feels that the Constitution has failed them, they will seek alternatives. The poor and reliant tend to turn to ideas like socialism. The working and freedom-loving tend to turn to ideas like Anarcho-Capitalism. Understand that this is only because of the promises provided by each idea, which is the promise of a better life for everyone and protection from the tyranny that they perceive the Constitution was unable to provide.  

Again, the two share common threads. Idealism aside, these common threads include the idea of a global utopia and open borders and, of course, a resolution to the hardships they face. Common themes aside, this push does not come from simply wanting something better. It was rooted in the idea that what is currently happening is failing, and it did not sit well with the affected people. Corruption is usually to blame, and it is a cause-and-effect problem.

If we want these crazy ideas to go away, we must correct the problems that are causing their need to exist in the first place. To do that, we must stop failing ourselves and follow through with simple promises being made. This is especially true for anyone who has sworn an oath (past or present). If you cannot follow through, do not take the job. Follow your oaths and pledges.

We also must collectively hold our government officials accountable when corruption shows its ugly face. This includes fines and jail time, just like any other citizen. We must stop treating our government officials (workers) like they are above the law. They are not Gods, and they are not special. They are just people. They are public servants.  

It is not difficult to understand the dangers of what I am discussing here. As corruption grows, so does the radical nature of those who seek our nation’s destruction. The bad news is that radical ideas such as socialism and Anarcho-Capitalism come with radical behaviors. Just look at any of the recent protests where Antifa was present. We see a relatively large group of socialists, communists, and anarchists working together to create chaos. Of course, many do not realize that “Antifa” actually finds its roots in something known as “Antifaschistische Aktion,”; a failed attempt to establish a cross-party alliance between Communist and Social Democratic workers in 1932 Germany (Balhorn, 2017). History repeats.

Most logical people can see its faults, but it is easy to see why weak or simple-minded people might turn to it. When desperate times encourage desperate measures, radical ideas sometimes begin to surface. Sure, terrorism is one, but any of them can be a real problem. I am saying that all of it can be avoided if we start thinking and encouraging others to think as well. We must follow through with our words and laws, police our own, hold our representatives accountable, and stop accepting corruption as a norm.