Friday, February 26, 2010

The people's building is no longer open to the people

The authority a democratic government exercises is granted to it by the people it governs. You remember what Abraham Lincoln said at Gettysburg about government of and by the people, right?

The gleaming palaces that our governors, legislators and judges occupy belong to the people -- we just allow them to use the space for a given amount of time.

When I was a student at the University of Texas I used to go down to the State Capitol complex every year on my birthday. I'd go at night because the floodlights focused on the beautiful pink granite made the building a glowing white. Back then you could drive right up to the Capitol and walk around inside 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Looking up at the dome from the rotunda was an amazing sight - no matter how many times you'd seen it before.

But then 9/11 happened and someone thought that the State Capitol might be a target of terrorists. Nevermind that if there were terrorists in Austin, they wouldn't pose much of a danger because after a short while they would be smoking pot, roaming up and down South Congress and watching Nanci Griffiths at the Cactus Cafe.

Now the powers-that-be have decided that we the people can no longer drive up and park alongside the State Capitol, that the building will only be open during the day and that visitors shall be subject to searches. And the politicians that closed the people's building to the people claim to be "of the people" and against government.

Now what was it that P.T. Barnum said about fooling the people?

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