By Bob Sanchez, JMI Policy Director
Posted May 1, 2012
The first day of the month of May has a checkered history. For instance, some societies viewed the ancient custom of dancing around a Maypole as a harmless and merry rite of spring, welcoming warmer weather to colder climes such as Great Britain and Scandinavia.In other societies, however, Maypole dancing was considered an anachronistic remnant of pagan fertility rites. That may have been why our Puritanical forefathers outlawed the practice in Massachusetts in 1644, a little more than two decades after the Mayflower had arrived with a boatload of pilgrims seeking religious freedom — for themselves, if not for others. In fact, the history of the Colonial period records incidents in which Puritan mobs attacked Mayday revelers.In the 20th Century, the First of May took another ugly turn. After the Bolshevik revolution produced a tyrannical Communist dictatorship to replace the tyrannical czarist dictatorship previously housed the Kremlin, the rulers in the Soviet bloc annually staged massive Mayday parades to display their military might – with row upon row of goose-stepping troops, tanks, even missiles.During this period, the countries behind the Iron Curtain – and radical leftists boring from within the Western democracies — generally used the first day of May to hail the revolutions, invasions, and/or coups that had advanced the cause of “socialism” and “workers’ rights.”In 1958, as a counterpoint to the Mayday celebrations in the authoritarian societies, President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed May 1 as “Law Day” in the United States. In doing so, he urged Americans to appreciate the system our nation’s Founders bequeathed to us: a system governed by the rule of law, not the whims of a monarch or a dictator.A lot has changed since 1958 – not all of it for the better – in the relationship between America’s citizenry and the law. In the excesses of some government rule-makers and regulators, for instance, some libertarian-minded observers even perceive a worrisome erosion of the rule of law. Other “good government types” worry about the growing evidence of crony capitalism – and Capitol cronyism – in our increasingly dysfunctional federal government. Arguably, then, the rule of law deserves more recognition than can be packed into a single day. Therefore, let’s hope the rule of law, particularly the U.S. Constitution, once again becomes the guiding force for our nation’s public officials throughout the year – and let’s work to make it so.