Editor’s note: This letter was submitted before the election, but not early enough to be published before the election.
Meritocracy. Alone, it is not a good system, but under the influence and the statutory checks and balances of good institutions it can help deliver the best possible outcome among all possible man-made systems. Until we humans rise above our lesser selves to become more principled, we need to accept some level of imperfection within and among these somewhat byzantine systems in order to achieve a “best efforts” optimization while avoiding worse outcomes.
Bill Barr, for what it is worth, must be meritorious and principled since he has obviously risen in ranks to become the attorney general of the United States. Props to him. Setting aside any intonation of partisanship in his rise, or his personal history, his is one more story of the essence of meritocratic achievement, American style.
So, with that in mind, I muse on his changes to guidance issued to prosecutors to allow them to investigate election tampering during an election, something that is potentially both influential upon the election itself as well as a potential for mucking the outcome via aspersions and doubt about the collection and conduct of the result.
If only his entire conscious meaning and intent were possible to know ahead of time, or if the vast conscience of those prosecutors could be known, we would have greater assurance about intent, and how and why these allowances will result in our best outcome. But we don’t know that ahead of time.
Uniquely American principles of risk and reward are endemic in our democracy, and in the forms of meritocratic management of systems that pervade our economics, politics, corporate and commercial conduct, even our familial/tribal allegiances.
Belief that we will attain the best outcome possible by trusting that our institutions and the people within them are good and honest Americans, who have practiced and learned their craft or their profession with vigor and passion, and with best intentions, is our common American modus. Leveraging that meritocratic approach has made this nation strong and admired for nearly two and a half centuries.
Could it all go boom? I choose not to believe that.
Considering the potentials for election tampering, considering the gut-wrenching troubles we have had with recent allegations of foreign nations tampering with our processes and institutions, and considering that a measure of prevention and precaution is always useful in avoiding hazard, we might be advised to trust that Barr is wisely practicing, to the best of his ability, moving with small risk to avoid a big hazard.
If we trust America, if we remain trusting and principled ourselves, we may actually stimulate the same trust and principles within those who may not agree with us on detail methods of conservative or liberal principles. We only need recognize our attempt to achieve balance, and seek to actively pursue it.
It is only via our balancing among those competing principles and methods that we can achieve a best outcome from a system that compromises among those “best efforts” to achieve justice, and give every voice and every man the equality and freedom enshrined in this republic’s foundation.
In God we trust. We move at risk, trusting that our fellow Americans remain principled and will be true to our shared love of these United States of America.