Most lobbyists would probably gain a more receptive audience if they could stroll into a member of Congress’s office while strapped with a visible firearm. Especially if everyone in that office knew that they carried the coercive power of law. Police officers stand outside the U.S. Capitol building ahead of a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. President Donald Trump will press Congress to carry out his priorities for replacing Obamacare, jump-starting the economy and bolstering the nations defenses in an address eagerly awaited by lawmakers, investors and the public who want greater clarity on his policy agenda. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)
Why are uniformed, armed Capitol Police lobbying members of Congress?
Tom Rogan July 02, 02:30 PM July 02, 02:56 PM
Most lobbyists would probably gain a more receptive audience if they could stroll into a member of Congress’s office while strapped with a visible firearm. Especially if everyone in that office knew that they carried the coercive power of law.
I note this because I’ve heard that at least one armed and in-uniform Capitol Police officer has recently been entering multiple congressional offices to request meetings with the elected officeholders. His intent has been to lobby in support of the Jan. 6 commission and the awarding of medals for the officers who were involved in preventing the riot.
Do not misunderstand me. The outrageous failure of their leadership aside, the courage of the rank-and-file Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6 is obvious. For that reason, I’m withholding the officer’s name. He was part of the literal thin blue line holding back a baying mob. Had that line not held where it had to hold, it is feasible that members of Congress may have been killed. In the truest sense, these officers stood the watch for democracy. We should honor them for that.
Nevertheless, democracy requires more than the protection of elected representatives. In equal measure, it requires the assurance that elected politicians not suffer coercive pressure from the state. And if an armed Capitol Police officer in full uniform is lobbying members of Congress in their offices, that’s coercive pressure. History suggests that we should not go down this road. The rot of ancient Rome’s Praetorian Guard, which transitioned from an honored bodyguard to an armed political faction, shows the worst consequence of this dynamic.
This concern cuts to the same democratic principle involved with civilian control over the military. It is a sacred principle of our system of government that the generals and admirals serve at the pleasure of the president, not the other way around. We do not want those armed with the instruments of coercive power to set policy. We do not want this because it would mean that the people’s democratic authority is subordinated to the rule of the gun.
Again, let us act prudently. Those who defended the People’s House on Jan. 6 deserve to be honored. But the Capitol Police should also offer guidance to its officers on not lobbying members of Congress while being armed and in uniform. As on Jan. 6, they have shown that they are far better than that.
A Capitol Police spokesperson later provided a statement to the Washington Examiner, saying that “the Department has clear policies that prohibit lobbying in uniform, which are consistently reiterated and enforced if violated.”
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