Government, green bananas and 12-year-old whiskey

My brother-in-law, William E. Spell, is a retired attorney who lives in Clinton, Mississippi. We were discussing several of my columns recently, one of which, titled “government is necessary, and is not evil,” Aug. 31, 2013, elicited the following commentary from him.

In it, he eloquently describes the vision and wisdom of the Founding Fathers in establishing our form of government. Hardly anyone would disagree with his assessment that the government is “grossly dysfunctional” today. But he goes further and ponders, with some humor, the future of our government, given the behavior of political parties, office holders and special interests. I share his concerns, but I would bet on aged Jack Daniels.

By William E. Spell

Government is necessary and is not evil, but it is certainly badly disabled.

The United States Constitution provides that our Federal Government shall be composed of three equal branches — Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

The system was designed so that, through checks and balances, each branch would check on the other and thus serve as a balance to keep the central Government composed of three branches on a steady course, each working as contemplated by the Founders to produce fair, effective and democratic governance of a Nation composed of individual and separate States.

Just check the polls that measure the respect and approval the public has, or more accurately stated, does not have for each of the branches of Federal Government on which we must depend for the common defense and the general welfare of our citizens.

All three branches are in the Dumpster. All three are grossly dysfunctional at the same time.

Our Founders believed the people would elect as President and members of Congress persons of high character who could and would learn and know more than the average American about domestic and foreign affairs, and that these governmental leaders would, through their intelligence and patriotism provide the leadership required for the Government to serve well the best interest of all American citizens.

Sadly, today the leadership quality that was expected by our Founders does not exist.

So where is the remedy to be found? In the voters where the Founders intended? Is that possible?

Not likely, given the sophistication and technology used by political parties, individual office holders and special interest groups to measure preferences of targeted voter groups and to determine who wants what, why and where, and with that knowledge manipulate the government for self-serving purposes without regard to the National interest.

Has the governmental system that the Founders intended, as Abraham Lincoln reminded us so appropriately, to be of the people, by the people, and for the people, become now in our day and time, so feckless and manipulated that, in reality, it has perished from the earth?

Perhaps not totally, but what about the future?

It might be safe to buy green bananas, but whether or not we can expect to have 12 year-old whiskey is another question.

Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aide and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at


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