Cliven Bundy's plight is sympathetic but his actions are indefensible

That there is a point beyond which the state may not advance without expecting legitimate pushback is acknowledged by even the most committed of the state’s enablers. Indeed, this principle is baked into America’s instruction manual — albeit with a caveat. “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive,” the Declaration reads, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” But it also chides the hotheaded among us, inviting us to remember that “prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes.” As far as we know, Bundy is not set on starting a revolution. (Although any shots fired would, certainly, have been heard around the world.) But then he isn’t set on civil disobedience as we understand it, either. There is a compact that governs disobedience, and it might be said to follow an old Spanish proverb: “Take what you want but pay for it.” Bundy did not ready himself for prison in order to make a point, but hoped that his obstinacy would lead to a direct change in policy with no consequences to himself. He wished, in other words, to win — nothing more, nothing less. That, in a vacuum, his winning looks good to limited-government types such as myself remains beside the point. If he can opt out, who cannot?

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