Swamp still un-drained in Washington? Blame the Brother-in-Law Effect

Over the years, a number of inexplicable events have perplexed many observers of politics.  Here are a few examples.

Chief justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is a tax.  Obama's lawyers had argued that it was not, but by ruling it a tax, Roberts's judicial contortions legalized Obamacare.  Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), once he became attorney general of the United States, steadfastly refused to expose corruption in the FISA court.  Former representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) refused to subpoena witnesses to expose criminal wrongdoing by Democrats.  Even now, he speaks against pursuing evidence of crimes committed by former president Barack Obama.  Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) repeatedly pulls back from calling witnesses who could expose criminal acts by the Deep State.  Attorney General William Barr declines to prosecute such people as former FBI official Andrew McCabe, who was fired for lying to the FBI.

One must wonder.  Why do so many of the people whom we trust, and appoint, speak so eloquently about the rule of law and then waffle when it comes time to bring official lawbreakers to justice?

For a possible answer, we turn to the political theory called the Brother-in-Law Effect.  What that means is that everybody in government is vulnerable to having his own wrongdoings exposed — and if anyone has not done anything wrong, he has relatives, such as a cousin or a brother-in-law — or a son, who has.  Anyone who aggressively exposes one bad actor runs the risk of retaliation against his own kinfolk.  The senator's wife becomes distraught when her own brother is threatened with arrest.  The senator caves.

The earth itself groans under the curse of sin.  There is an interlocking web of treachery and deceit in government that is self-perpetuating.  Indeed, it feeds on itself and grows.

Bear in mind that these are the same men who send our sons to war, asking them to risk their lives.  Where is the corresponding courage, the spirit of self-sacrifice, among those in power?

The prospects for reform seem dismal.  We idealize our leaders as being perfect, but no one is.  Even so, if we are to be a nation ruled by laws, not ruled by men, then the law must be strengthened.  This can be done only by requiring openness and transparency to an unprecedented degree.

While the details of reform are complex, vital parts of it are not.  It was said of President Bill Clinton that he would never had done the dirty deeds he did had President Richard Nixon died in prison for his crimes.

Similarly, the penalties for malfeasance in government must be so severe, even draconian, that no one in government would risk committing a crime.  Better yet, no criminal would ever find government an attractive career and would avoid it.

Unfortunately, such laws could be passed only by those already in power, the ones who least wish for such laws to be implemented.

In the end, only a determined and outraged citizenry can bring about reform.  That is a very scary thought.  The scarier thought is that they won't.

Over the years, a number of inexplicable events have perplexed many observers of politics.  Here are a few examples.

Chief justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is a tax.  Obama's lawyers had argued that it was not, but by ruling it a tax, Roberts's judicial contortions legalized Obamacare.  Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), once he became attorney general of the United States, steadfastly refused to expose corruption in the FISA court.  Former representative Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) refused to subpoena witnesses to expose criminal wrongdoing by Democrats.  Even now, he speaks against pursuing evidence of crimes committed by former president Barack Obama.  Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) repeatedly pulls back from calling witnesses who could expose criminal acts by the Deep State.  Attorney General William Barr declines to prosecute such people as former FBI official Andrew McCabe, who was fired for lying to the FBI.

One must wonder.  Why do so many of the people whom we trust, and appoint, speak so eloquently about the rule of law and then waffle when it comes time to bring official lawbreakers to justice?

For a possible answer, we turn to the political theory called the Brother-in-Law Effect.  What that means is that everybody in government is vulnerable to having his own wrongdoings exposed — and if anyone has not done anything wrong, he has relatives, such as a cousin or a brother-in-law — or a son, who has.  Anyone who aggressively exposes one bad actor runs the risk of retaliation against his own kinfolk.  The senator's wife becomes distraught when her own brother is threatened with arrest.  The senator caves.

The earth itself groans under the curse of sin.  There is an interlocking web of treachery and deceit in government that is self-perpetuating.  Indeed, it feeds on itself and grows.

Bear in mind that these are the same men who send our sons to war, asking them to risk their lives.  Where is the corresponding courage, the spirit of self-sacrifice, among those in power?

The prospects for reform seem dismal.  We idealize our leaders as being perfect, but no one is.  Even so, if we are to be a nation ruled by laws, not ruled by men, then the law must be strengthened.  This can be done only by requiring openness and transparency to an unprecedented degree.

While the details of reform are complex, vital parts of it are not.  It was said of President Bill Clinton that he would never had done the dirty deeds he did had President Richard Nixon died in prison for his crimes.

Similarly, the penalties for malfeasance in government must be so severe, even draconian, that no one in government would risk committing a crime.  Better yet, no criminal would ever find government an attractive career and would avoid it.

Unfortunately, such laws could be passed only by those already in power, the ones who least wish for such laws to be implemented.

In the end, only a determined and outraged citizenry can bring about reform.  That is a very scary thought.  The scarier thought is that they won't.