A dangerous time

We are at a uniquely dangerous point in American history. When Richard Nixon tried to use the IRS to target his enemies, the agency told him to take a hike. Today, the agency is happy to target the president’s enemies. In fact, if the White House is telling the truth (a big if, I know), they don’t even have to be asked to do it! As Mark Steyn puts it:

Indeed, let’s take the president at his word that the existence of this shadowy IRS entity working deep within the even shadowier U.S. Treasury planted in deep cover within the shadowiest conspiracy of them all, this murky hitherto unknown organization called “the executive branch,” that all this was news to him.

What that means then is not that this or that elected politician is corrupt but that the government of the United States is corrupt.

Combined with this historically unusual affinity for misconduct, the government also has unprecedented capabilities to abuse. Again, Mark Steyn:

Perhaps this is just the way it is in the panopticon state. Tocqueville foresaw this, as he did most things. Although absolute monarchy “clothed kings with a power almost without limits” in practice “the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.” What would happen, Tocqueville wondered, if administrative capability were to evolve to bring “the details of social life and of individual existence” within the King’s oversight? Eric Holder and Lois Lerner now have that power. . .

When the state has the power to know everything about everyone, the integrity of the civil service is the only bulwark against men like Holder. Instead, the ruling party and the non-partisan bureaucracy seem to be converging. In August 2010, President Obama began railing publicly against “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity” (August 9th, a speech in Texas) and “shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names” (August 21st, radio address). And whaddayaknow, that self-same month the IRS obligingly issued its first BOLO (Be On the Look-Out) for groups with harmless-sounding names, like “tea party,” “patriot,” and “constitution.”

It may be that the strange synchronicity between the president and the permanent bureaucracy is mere happenstance and not, as it might sound to the casual ear, the sinister merging of party and state. Either way, they need to be pried apart. When the state has the capability to know everything except the difference between right and wrong, it won’t end well.

The danger here isn’t Barack Obama. This is not the first corrupt administration and it won’t be the last. The danger here is the government. It must be scaled back.

We should not attack Obama primarily for being personally responsible for the scandals. For most of them he probably isn’t. We should attack Obama primarily for refusing to do anything about them, and for thwarting Congress’s efforts. (No, he hasn’t thwarted Congress’s efforts to clean house yet — other than by stonewalling investigations — but is there any doubt that he will?) And, since nothing can be done while Obama is still in office, we must remember. Unfortunately, remembering is something that the American people seem to be very bad at.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: