Our Constitution is designed to allow citizens to both limit and empower their government. Citizens were given this power because the Founding Fathers were thoughtful scholars of history. They understood that, throughout history, concentrated power has always sought more power.
But the last seven years of the Obama administration has fundamentally changed the agreement between citizens and their government. Congress, the elected voice of citizens, was designed to share a co-equal role in governing. That is no longer true. The citizen’s role in defining our government has now been reduced to the popularity contest between candidates. The absence of any effective GOP remedy to this violation is the root cause of the fracture of the GOP.
Federal agencies now routinely refuse Congressional oversight and hide or distort reports on their activities and spending. The laws that define the duties, work and goals of agencies are now amended, exceeded or ignored without Congressional approval and without consequence. Rules that govern every aspect of American lives are adopted without public comment or by simply ignoring public opinions.
The media, when they even bother to pursue stories, is consistently misled. And, the Freedom of Information Act, as we’ve learned from the State Department and Hillary Clinton, is routinely frustrated or simply ignored. This has gone so far that for the “greater good” (to stop Trump) some journalists now astoundingly argue that erasing public documents is really no big deal.
The president’s National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, felt so comfortable with lying to reporters and editors that he later crowed about it as did ObamaCare architect Johnathan Gruber who bragged about the value of misleading a “stupid” populace (and a complacent media). Years now go by while responsible media outlets petition our courts to enforce unambiguous laws that require disclosure to the public of what public servants are doing.
The Constitution forces accommodation both between the branches of our government and often widely divergent views in the population. But in the name of “getting things done” Barack Obama has run over the Constitutional limits that require such accommodations. Even agreements with foreign nations that are pregnant with consequences like the Iran “deal” or release of terrorists from US custody are now beyond citizen input through their Members of Congress.
Indeed, even standing laws and normal practices have been ignored in the name of some greater good. One can’t help but conclude that FBI director James Comey traded away, “all equal before the law”, a bedrock American principle, so that the nation’s highest law enforcement agency would not interfere in the Presidential election. He granted participants in the investigated crimes immunity and “client-lawyer” protections that are never granted to lawyers who act in furtherance of the investigated crime. He then substituted “intent” for the “negligence” that is the central element of the violations of national security laws.
We risk all by easing or erasing the rules and laws that govern a civil society. When laws are ignored, when the people’s elected body is bypassed and when knowing lies from our highest officials are excused as justified (because of their popularity and and their goals) we risk never returning to standards of principle and virtue that over time maintain the fidelity of our national experiment.
Similarly, when the media that is essential to keeping the powerful honest decide that the stakes are so high that journalistic principles of fairness and even handed adversarial coverage should be abandoned we have thrown ourselves down a slippery slope that has no bottom.
Those who pay the price are those who have lost the power invested in them by our nation’s Founders—our citizens. Our fates will now be increasingly decided by those with greater and greater power. Their agenda’s will be beyond the reach of American citizens–exactly what the Founding Fathers feared.
Ken Hoagland is a long time grassroots advocate who has worked on issues where the public will is frustrated by government and legislative indifference. He currently heads the “Defend America Foundation” and is working to eliminate vulnerabilities in the electrical grid (at www.armorGrid.org).