November 2012 Bar Bulletin
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November 2012 Bar Bulletin

November Reflections about U.S. Citizenship

By Robert W. Zierman


This month, we will finally witness the completion of the election cycle. Additionally, we will celebrate Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. How do these all relate to this month's Bar Bulletin topic of "Property?"

Well, for most of us the greatest set of property rights running through all of this is our United States citizenship. So, within the context of the above-named events, let's consider the significance of this important set of property rights and the prudence of being more generous in extending them to others.

Washington is not a state "in play" for the presidential election. Yet, we still have some interesting skirmishes. It seems often the closer the race, the "muddier" the contest.

Muddy or bloody? Of the two, hands down the former is more preferable. By way of explanation, let's take up China's concept of the "Mandate of Heaven."1

Somewhat akin to the "Divine Right of Kings,"2 by which European monarchs were afforded both political and religious legitimacy, China has traditionally held to the belief that its then current ruler is afforded his (or in the example of Empress Dowager Cixi,3 her) absolute power through the Mandate of Heaven.4

While "governing," the emperor is presumed to be properly exercising his authority. Abuses of power are generally deemed to result from members of court acting beyond the proper bounds of their agency.

Despite the "slack" afforded by the "governed" under this system, when conditions change intolerably, corruption rises too significantly, or perhaps both - barring a fairly drastic redirection - the Mandate of Heaven is withdrawn.

When this happens, just as in early America and shortly afterward in France, the "Right of Revolution"5 is "provided" to the populace. The result is often literally a bloody mess.

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