We’ll miss sheriffs when they’re gone
Sheriffs, please know, are different from the tawdry mix of ambition and vanity that makes up local officialdom.
Sheriffs are precursors of our constitutional republic and its attendant democracy. They arose in first-century Anglo-Saxon England or even with the Norse, the natural, chosen leaders of their communities (shires), their title dating back to Alfred the Great.
Sheriffs in this Alfredian mold spoke truth to power. They kept local order, but more important to this discussion they represented to the king the legitimate interests and concerns of common folk — primarily regarding the protection of property and individual liberty, both unique to Western civilization.
The character built into the office was wisely carried over to the legal codes of colonial American government and eventually to our constitutional republic.
Today, not so much. Sheriffs in our metropolitan counties appear most concerned with protecting a system of double-dip pensioning. A friend, retired from law enforcement here, remembers observing one of the state’s first Special Weapons and Tactics teams go through its drills.
His thought at the time was that he might have seen the last of the traditional Indiana sheriffs. Future deputies, he realized, would be indistinguishable from policemen, restaurant inspectors, meter readers and other hired muscle for the city, county and state.
The sheriff still stands strong in rural America. A recent quote from a Colorado sheriff protesting his state’s new gun laws is representative: “In my oath it says I’ll uphold the U.S. Constitution and the constitution of the state of Colorado. It doesn’t say I have to uphold every law passed by the Legislature.”
Clearly, the sheriff can be a bane to central authority — again, it is historically built into the job. County councils and managers, therefore, are slowly tightening a fiscal noose around the office, reducing it to something resembling an armed postmaster. And it is no accident that legislatures long ago forced sheriffs into term limits.
Nor is it a statistical quirk that sheriffs who choose the Alfredian role are routinely the big vote getters in their counties. We sense our local sheriff, anachronism though he may be, is more on our side than the rest of officialdom — our only hope perhaps.
Finally, sheriffs are mentioned prominently in the Magna Carta, the legal base of our concept of liberty. Fourteen sheriffs or former sheriffs were either in an advisory capacity in the writing of the Magna Carta or as direct participants. Of the document’s 63 clauses, 27 are directly concerned with the sheriff and his office.
So we watch the elect in Washington and Indianapolis assume the despotic power of kings. We note murders and armed robberies are being reported closer to our businesses and homes. We look for a sheriff with that true grit of old.
We will know him by how he treats private property and individual liberty.
Glass-Steagall repeal set crisis in motion
Here is one I’d like to see generate some feedback.
In 1999, President William J. Clinton signed the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. The Glass-Steagall Act was part and parcel of the Banking Protection Act of 1933.
If you think back to 1999, you will recall it was not all that long after President Clinton signed the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act that the excrement hit the cooling device. I am convinced our current financial disaster was, in large part, due to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.
Perhaps we the people would do well to urge our legislators to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. And while we are at it, we should also urge our legislators to take all necessary steps to prosecute those banking officials responsible, not just revoke their “golden parachutes.”