Joe Klein of Time seems to have missed something very important in his middle school civics class. This is from the last paragraph of his essay in this week’s Time:

But most of us aren’t very active citizens, though, and the President never addressed the responsibilities that accompany citizenship. He asked nothing of us. But government isn’t only about taking from some and giving to others.

Uh, yes, Joe, government is only about taking from some and giving to others. That’s all government can do. Citizens don’t have any responsibility to citizenship (what does that even mean? Is he suggesting that we’re born (as US citizens) with some kind of civic obligation, like being in a military draft?) The only responsibility that exists – and which has been clearly violated – is for government to obey its own laws (namely the Constitution).

It can NOT do this (the next sentence):

[Government] is about the creation and maintenance of something much larger than all of us–a learning, evolving democracy, which requires an informed, rigorous public.

But there is nothing larger than all of us. Democracy doesn’t learn. And being a part of a democracy doesn’t require being informed or rigorous. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

When government becomes about more than just defending citizens from each other and invaders, government becomes larger than it should be. It need not do anything more, and the more it does the less it is useful. Joseph Ivy understands this. Sheila Beal (and Joe Klein) does not.

-JD Cross