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We Baby Boomers Are Shocked And Awed

We Baby Boomers Are Shocked And Awed Democratic Government: Rule of Law

I am proud to be a member of the baby boomer generation, 76 million strong, whom I believe had and continues to have a very significant impact upon our society as a whole; namely what it means to be an American.

No doubt, historians have correctly placed the label of “the greatest generation” upon our parents and grandparents who chose to fight a war to ensure the freedom, integrity, and dignity of not just American citizens, but all human beings around the world. 

These citizens truly lived the mantra of a democratic society, as stated so eloquently by the U.S. Supreme Court in Munn v. Illinois, that choosing (or being born into and remaining) to be a part of a democratic society, a citizen gives up certain liberties and freedoms that otherwise they would have if they lived apart from others, to protect the public welfare. This is an inherent aspect of a thriving democratic society. Clearly, our forefathers and foremothers took this to an extreme by wanting to help persons all around the world and to risk and suffer the ultimate sacrifice for all by the giving of their lives.

Think about it, no one desired to go kill other human beings or be killed or severely wounded that would cause them to suffer for the rest of his/her life. All of these true heroes joined up by the millions to give up their freedoms and liberties to live peaceful, productive lives in order to preserve the public welfare. 

The key for my generation was, of those who were lucky enough to come back alive from the war, they were our parents and grandparents who raised us and imbedded within our young brains the need in our daily lives to act in a manner to protect and preserve freedom, and act with integrity and dignity toward all persons. That was fortified by our parents teaching us that it was critical during our life to work very hard, to be optimistic, and believe in oneself (Individualism).   

Even though the world remained chaotic during our formative years and early adulthood, there was sufficient time to look inward in our country and find issues where the quality of our freedoms might not have been sufficient to benefit all citizens. 

Of course, we learned about the truly horrific slavery imposed on our African American, and Black citizens. Of course, it was banished, but what about after the Civil War and continuing up until the 1970’s, in both the north and the south, there was insidious segregation (in the South blatant, in the North an unwritten code existed), with the denial of basic civil rights.

Thus, our “free” Brothers and Sisters of the black-skin variety were kept poorly educated, monetarily poor, and never able to own anything of value. How could we tolerate this if we were to act with integrity and dignity to all citizens?

In addition, we learned in our daily lives that women were only competent to be mothers, nurses, and teachers. There was a clear male-majority belief, that women were not competent to be engineers, lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. 

When did we ever see a woman or Black woman or man in a position of authority?

Did our generation attempt to overthrow the government? Absolutely not! Did we elect a President who would ignore the law, and order persons to act otherwise? No! We simply made it loud and clear that if our society wanted to protect the public welfare, these societal ills needed to be changed. We lawfully protested. We lawfully marched in the streets. We worked for candidates that would get the job done. To put it bluntly, we informed those in control that traditional values that had not been questioned before, now required a critical redefinition that was vital to protect the public welfare. 

My generation believed that anything was possible with hard work and perseverance. And many other issues met the same positive fate as to how society dealt with gay rights, transgender individuals, other issues of social inequality, and even the right of citizens to protest unpopular wars that they believed did not protect the public welfare. 

From our democratic-governmental perspective, as to the required conduct of its citizens as the public welfare became redefined, what happened? 

If one was wholly against the right of African-Americans and Blacks to have all the rights of white citizens, seriously believed that a woman’s place was in the home, that gay people were simply an existing sin and should be prevented in acting in that manner etc., if he/she lived on some island with no governmental body, he/she could act in the manner of his/her beliefs.

In a democratic form of government, those same individuals must respect the government- mandated rights, liberties, and protections of all citizens or be subject to punishment from the State. The only way to lawfully change such protections is to petition the government to repeal them. That is simply how it must work if you truly and honestly label your government as a democratic one for the public welfare is only preserved if all citizens can thrive in our country.

To say this in more of a legal fashion and because the phrase has been used so many times in the last 7 or 8 years, the key to this type of democratic form of government is that all of us must abide by the Rule of Law. In other words, laws do not come from kings, queens, dictators or whom some call “an autocratic (absolute power) leader of government,” whether it be a President or a Governor. Our laws are adopted or not by our elected representatives, and such laws are absolutely binding on our President-Governor and the Judiciary until they are amended or repealed by our elected representatives. 

Therefore, the truly greatest “sin” that can be committed by any government officer is to not enforce the  law. If that is not done, the law becomes superfluous, and the public welfare is subject to partial or complete destruction. Thus, everything we baby boomers have accomplished to ensure that all of our citizens have a right to a safe and productive life can be destroyed by the failure to respect and enforce the rule of law. For citizens, it is not a choice, but a mandate to be a part of our society or simply leave!

For many, and soon most baby boomers, we have done something that we never thought would come to pass; the decision to retire. One critical issue for many of us is that we expect the subsequent generations to preserve our form of government.  

 For almost 8 years, what has been happening in not only our federal government but at the state level, is our democratic form of government has been gravely threatened by the willingness of our leaders to not comply with the law. They are willing to issue orders that have no legal effect and extraordinarily, the courts have turned a blind eye to their illegality. I have written and published several articles to that effect in Reform Austin.

However, the most horrifying disdain for total respect of the public welfare was committed by “we the people.”

As we all know, in March of 2020, covid transmission resulting in millions and millions of citizens becoming sick and many sick enough to be hospitalized and to die in our country and around the world. At first there was no protection except to hide in your home. It was then discovered that face masks could have a miraculous effect of reducing to a large degree the transmission of covid. Governor Abbott at the beginning of this breakthrough, lawfully ordered everyone to wear masks in public.  

What happened? Literally millions upon millions of Americans refused to wear a mask. The critical twist was that most masks did NOT protect the wearer. They prevented the wearer from infecting others and obviously, then those others infecting even more citizens. So, for the most part, the masks did not protect your personal health. So why wear one? You would only wear one if you cared about the health and safety of others.  Get arrested? It would have been impossible for our police to have done so. 

So, I ask, why should one have worn a mask? No help to me!! No consequences of not obeying the orders. The very depressing and yes, anxiety-provoking answer is we all had a duty to do so to follow a lawful order that would protect other citizens lives and we deliberately did not. Due to the lack of mask wearing, 257 million contracted covid (77.5%), the killing fields were massive with 1,161,602 million citizens dying (3%), and 18 million today continue to suffer from the devastating Long Covid physical and mental illnesses of being infected with covid (7%).

Such unforgivable destruction of human life by all of us who refused and then Governor Abbott who canceled his orders to wear masks in public. 

The response of so many was “no skin off my back.” I did not get covid or it was so mild. The masks are too great of a burden upon me and disrupt my daily routine. I do not have time to worry about others.

There were virtually no discussions of all citizens’ duty to protect the public welfare. Did our WW II veterans die or become severely injured so that the future citizens could allow massive injury and death to the public welfare because to do otherwise would be uncomfortable? It is truly shocking. 

So where are we going from here? If citizens believe they have no duty to protect the public welfare, then what laws will be repealed and what potential laws will never be adopted if the sole reason is to benefit some persons that truly need help. That is clearly a shocking country to be a part of in the future. 

Ron Beal
Ron Beal
Ron Beal, Professor of Law at Baylor Law School, has taught, practiced and written on Texas Administrative Law for 37 years. He has written a two-volume treatise, Texas Administrative Practice and Procedure (Lexis, 23rd ed. 2020) and 17 law review articles that have been routinely cited by the Texas Supreme Court and Austin Court of Appeals as an authoritative source.


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