Opinion
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Is it any surprise Americans don’t trust their government?

Photo of Eva Brates
Eva Brates
Associate, Corallo Media Strategies

James Madison, one of our most vocally liberty-loving founding fathers, said: “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” If only our liberties were being abridged by gradual and silent encroachments. What Americans are currently experiencing is a zealous bulldozing of our rights at a pace we’ve never before seen.

A January 2013 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that a majority of Americans — a staggering 53 percent — view the federal government as a threat to personal rights and freedoms. Think about that. The majority of Americans did not say merely that they believe the government is too large, or that it has been behaving in a fiscally irresponsible manner. They believe that the government is a threat to their rights and freedoms. This is unprecedented. It would be difficult to find another administration in modern history during which over half of Americans felt that their individual rights were imperiled by their own government. But given the fact that Obama’s second term has been rife with scandal, why should this really be surprising? In today’s national security parlance: Let’s connect the dots.

For nearly five years, we’ve had our collective intelligence insulted by an administration that seems to take giddy joy in duping its constituents into thinking that our fiscal situation is steadily improving under its watch. Instead of the president gleefully telling voters that he has cut the federal debt by $2.5 trillion, I think we’d all appreciate hearing the truth — that under this administration, the debt has increased by $6 trillion, which begs the question: Why is the federal government unable or unwilling to stop hemorrhaging money? Meanwhile, our economy is barely sputtering along. Job creation continues to stagnate as businesses lay off workers and stall hiring. Many business owners are acutely aware of the fact that the solvency of their businesses may be in jeopardy once Obamacare goes into effect, and are laying workers off as a preventative measure.

While we’re on the topic of duplicity, let’s consider why high-level administration officials appear utterly clueless as to the reasons behind the death of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. I don’t know whether it’s more frightening that our esteemed leaders had no idea why this attack took place on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, or that they trotted out our ambassador to the U.N. — Susan Rice — all over the mainstream media to peddle an obvious bunch of malarkey about an anti-Islam video as the cause. Really, if you’re trying to cover your tracks, this is the best you can do? And then, to reward her “competence,” the president named Rice national security advisor.

Washington’s unmitigated hubris is perhaps best epitomized by the recent IRS scandal. We have a purported non-partisan, apolitical tax-collecting agency unilaterally determining which groups receive preferential treatment based on their political philosophy, and which ones are effectively shoved to the back of the line for months or years, losing money and, in many cases, the ability to operate. There’s no clearer indication that our bloated, ever-growing government is full of bureaucrats who truly believe that consequences don’t apply to them. Just try to imagine the vitriol from Beltway types if this were to have happened under George W. Bush or any other Republican president.

We’re losing ground, both literally and figuratively, as our immigration agency allows our nation’s sovereignty to slip away. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) neither effectively secures the borders nor enforces the immigration policies already on the books, further adding to the already burgeoning tax burden on the legal citizens of this country.

We have a National Security Agency that seems more concerned with collecting personal data from American citizens than focusing on the very real threats to our safety and freedom from abroad. Obviously, our government has no qualms about spying on its own citizens, media outlets, and individual journalists (to the point of naming in an application to a federal judge for a warrant Fox News reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator in a leak case). Many of our lawmakers are considering whether to abstain from running in the next election cycle or prematurely quit their posts altogether to avoid the fallout from the catastrophic rise in healthcare costs coming down the pike. The White House has come out in opposition to religious freedom for our military service members, while simultaneously campaigning to disarm innocent civilians who want to protect their families and homes.

I’m not even 30 yet. What this adds up to for me and my contemporaries, when you connect all these “dots,” is a pretty bleak future — unless the situation changes soon.

My father came to America from Israel in 1983 after fleeing a communist regime in Eastern Europe as a child; he came here believing that this was the greatest nation ever devised, and he believed that as long as America survived and thrived, the world had a chance. I have to wonder, all things being equal, would he make the same choice today? For the first time, I have my doubts. The America to which he arrived 30 years ago may not exist for too much longer, if it still exists at all.

Eva Brates is an associate at Corallo Media Strategies, Inc., a public affairs firm located in Alexandria, VA.