Congress Kisses Freedom Goodbye
Elected representatives care more about future elections than liberty, and their actions prove it.
A free society can only exist within the parameters of a limited government. Yet the federal government continues to grow at anything other than a snail’s pace.
While the Obama Administration is a part of the problem, Congress is a brutal, unrelenting accomplice that has allowed the problem to rapidly metastasize. Of course, the only way to stop this explosive growth is through adherence to, and enforcement of, a document such as our Constitution, which specifically tells government what it is permitted to do. Because people in authority tend to exploit their power, limiting their actions is the most difficult task for any culture that purports to be grounded in freedom.
Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) believes that Congress can do anything it wants so long as the Constitution doesn’t forbid it. He forgot to read the 10th Amendment. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) believes that government bestows upon citizens inalienable rights. He failed to read the Declaration of Independence. Former Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) says he doesn’t care about the Constitution when dealing with certain issues like health care. He has neglected his oath. Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) believes that Congress should do whatever it wants and the Supreme Court will sort it out. So much for Congress being one of the three checks within our government.
In light of all of this talk from the wells of both the Senate and the House of Representatives and the reciprocal complaining from the small-government contingent, we are asked what in the world we are really concerned about. In a sad attempt to pat themselves on the back and to redeem themselves from the morbid mess in D.C., Congress tells us that in 2012 they only passed 61 laws, which is fewer laws than Congress has passed in decades going all the way back to the 1940s. Numerically, this is true. Out of 3,914 laws proposed, only 61 of these became law.
Don’t be fooled by the conclusion “big government” wants you to draw, which is that government is not necessarily growing larger.
In light of the fact that congressional bills are becoming increasingly enormous and that more of these proposed pieces of legislation are omnibus bills, why would anyone believe that an aggressive defense for smaller government is just an overreaction? Just for the sake of argument though, let’s run with the idea that these data are reflective of a government that is becoming smaller. And let’s shoot it down without further ado.
The United States government is not decreasing in size. The federal government is not becoming less intrusive on the lives of the American people. Congress is not ceding power back to the states, which would allow the states to handle the intimate issues it was initially intended to undertake.
The truth is there were not fewer impositions placed on the American people last year, even in light of fewer laws passed through Congress. The newsflash is that bureaucracies like the EPA, FDA, and DOE passed on average 68 regulations per day for a total of over 6,100 regulations in 2012.
Feeling no shame after getting caught in bed with the mistress of tyranny, big government advocates press the issue and tell us that this is really no big deal. Let’s take a look.
The Environmental Protection Agency begins with the proposition that the separate states don’t have a good grasp on their peculiar issues pertaining to the environment. The states are allegedly not good stewards over their land and resources. Therefore, let’s have a distant and removed entity decide what is best. As a result, the EPA has done more harm to the environment than by simply leaving the power where it rightfully belongs, namely the states.
The Department of Education is another painful example and begins with the idea that local schools don’t know what’s best for their students. They are not good stewards over the education of their citizens. Therefore, let’s have a distant and removed federal government establish standards that assume that what is best for a student in New York is the same as what a student needs in Montana which is the same as what students need in Arizona. Educational standards have been dumbed down because the federal government thinks they can run the states better than the states can. The destruction of federalism continues on.
We have allowed this to happen by allowing our representatives to create and fund bureaucracies unchecked. These bureaucracies do not have power to create laws that directly affect our lives, yet they do it every day.
Why is limited government – where you leave power to the states – a better deal than giving expansive power to a centralized federal government? It can be summed up in just two words: accountability and responsibility.
Where are people more likely to be held responsible? Where is freedom most likely to be maximized by virtue of smaller government: At the local level where the representatives are exposed and very close to the people, or on a national level where power over local affairs is absolutely diluted and where representatives spend money that does not come from their constituents but from people who are distant and removed from them?
Congress, being supported by our votes, is literally kissing our freedom goodbye. They have neglected limited government and the basic principles of freedom. And it’s an absolute tragedy to watch America become like that of any other country. We are better than this.
Shane Krauser is a partner with the law firm of Davis Miles McGuire Gardner, the director of the American Academy for Constitutional Education, and the chief instructor of K-Force Vanguard. Follow him on twitter: @Shane Krauser.