Acrobats and the government

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When I speak to some groups, I try to give them my perspective as to how the legislative process works. That includes a bit about the mechanical process of getting majorities in the House and Senate and the governor’s signature.

I talk about the balancing act that must occur to pass new laws and the balance needed between different faction’s perspectives.  Also, I address the need to find the proper balance between freedom and security.

I suggest they envision holding a balancing rod. On one end, everyone has the right to do as they please with no consideration of the well-being of others. On the other, one has complete safety which includes locking themselves in fortresses that no one is capable of entering. At both those extremes, our lives would be miserable. The role of government is to do no more than to prevent society from getting too close to either of these extremes.

Our forefathers created a constitution to address some of the most important issues to avoid the extremes, as well as to create a fair policy of how the rules could be changed to address issues that arise, including how to protect the life, property or rights of others. Overall, our constitution and the laws built on the constitution have served the nation well.

There are three issues that are eroding that framework that should be of concern to all of us.

The first relates to activist judges. Some judges appointed to arbitrate the wording of laws chose, instead, to make law from the bench. Rather than determining that there should be reconsideration of a law that the legislature has passed, these activist judges deem themselves to have greater power than the legislatures.  The perfect example of this occurred when the courts concluded they did not agree with congressional district lines in Virginia.

The second deals with the president and sometimes the governors of the states.  They have chosen to ignore Congress or state legislatures when those representatives have not taken the action they wish and, therefore, ignore the process of changing public policy legally.

An example is the many executive orders that have been coming from presidents of both political parties. The DACA (Dreamers) and environmental Executive Orders that President Barack Obama used to bypass Congress clearly accomplished that. Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s attempts to add language to the state budget after it passed overwhelming by the General Assembly was wrong.

The third deals with those unwilling to accept the laws that have been passed or the elections in which they did not agree with the results. They believe they have the right to riot and do damage to public and private property in an effort to overturn the beliefs of the majority.  An example is the monuments that were torn down in Durham, NC and Baltimore, Maryland.

We all must work to return our nation to the roots of our founding.

Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg County in the state Senate. His email address is