By Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr, Special for USDR
America recently celebrated Independence Day with fireworks, parades and barbeques. But have the Revolutionary ideals of its founders been so forgotten as to make the day meaningless?
Listening to the nation’s top elected officials and media elites, it seems that the concepts of limited government and freedom of speech are considered little more than anachronisms.
The patriots who bled at Lexington and Concord, froze at Valley Forge, and, against all odds, emerged victorious at Yorktown would hardly recognize what the United States government has become under the current Imperial Presidency, as well as the actions of numerous local governments.
Indeed, many of the same issues, including an increasingly overbearing central government, might tempt those farmers and tradesmen to rebel against the current political climate with the same vigor with which they ousted King George III. The power-grabbing habits of American administration at all levels have been growing for decades, but never with the speed and reach which the current White House has initiated. The Continental troops and their supporters who fought for the “Spirit of ‘76” would find the situation eerily familiar.
The British King employed an army of German mercenaries to enforce his will. This White House has appointed an army of lawyers in the Department of Justice, accountants in the IRS, and bureaucrats in numerous other agencies (particularly the Environmental Protection Agency) to intimidate political opponents and regulate citizens and businesses, particularly through the use of highly questionable executive orders.
This brings to mind the fear expressed by Cotton Mather’s grandson, Mather Byles, http://boston1775.blogspot.com/2007/03/mather-byles-sr-and-three-thousand.html who worried that the Revolution could replace “One tyrant three thousand miles away with 3,000 tyrants one mile away.”
Daniel Hannan, a distinguished representative of England to the European Parliament, recently wrote about the growing power of un-elected, unaccountable, frequently anonymous bureaucracies, not just in America but in free nations across the planet: “Those mechanisms are no longer working. The state machine has outgrown democratic scrutiny. Agencies and executive bodies proliferate beyond the purview of elected representatives. Like Asimov’s robots, they have learned to program each other without human intervention.”
The Patriots would not accept the monarchical usurpation of constitutional limits by a President who unabashedly proclaims that “I can’t wait” http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/10/obama_cant_wait_for_the_rule_of_law.htm for Congress, despite his legal obligation to do so. This President has had to be rebuked an unprecedented thirteen times http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/matthew-vadum/supreme-court-rebukes-obama-lawlessness/ by unanimous verdicts of the United States Supreme Court for overstepping his authority. The framers of the Constitution, which reflected the Revolutionary ideals of government, would consider that record to be a startling and serial offence against the principles they fought for.
The extraordinary growth of regulatory restraints on individuals and enterprises in areas large and small would be considered utterly unacceptable.
Mr. Obama has used his surrogates to directly attack the First Amendment, seeking to cut off a broad national discussion about policy and issues. He has sought to place federal monitors in newsrooms. He has advocated suppressing free speech spending in political campaigns as a way of keeping his supporters in the Senate in office. He feels compelled to do this because an open discussion about his extraordinary failures in every area of our national life would be disastrous for his Administration. He needs to do this because both his domestic and foreign agendas run directly contrary to the American spirit, American form of government, and inherent American rights.
He has inadvertently endangered free speech by supporting international control of, and therefore censorship of, the internet. That threat will loom large this fall, when the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), http://www.itu.int/en/Pages/default.aspx a branch of the United Nations, meets from October 20 to November 7.
Recently, The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) http://www.cigionline.org/articles/end-of-internet analyzed aspects of the internet governance debate that has been taking place at ITU meetings over the past several years. CIGI’s report noted that starting in 2003, Russia, China, and the Arab states advanced “an explicit rule-making agenda” for a more “state-controlled and monetary version of the internet.”
According to Freedom House, “Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove a worldwide decline in internet freedom in the past year.”
Mr. Obama has misused whole federal agencies, especially the IRS, and inappropriately employed them as vehicles to harass political opponents. On this Independence Day month, it is not inappropriate to mention that the group most directly targeted is the Tea Party, whom this President and even some of his opponents in the Republican Party despise and fear because they advocate adhering to the Spirit of ’76 and the letter of the law expressed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Similar to rulers everywhere who fear the freedom of their own citizens, Mr. Obama has repeatedly attacked the right to bear arms, guaranteed in America by the 2nd Amendment, not directly, but through the advocacy of regulations that make that right meaningless. He has expanded the federal government’s actions that invade privacy, making a mockery of the 4th amendment. Under his rule, he presumes that all powers belong to the Executive Branch unless specifically curtailed by a court, a direct contradiction of the 9th and 10th amendments.
It is not only Washington that has abandoned founding principles. Municipalities that regulate incredibly personal decisions would come under staunch criticism as well. New York City’s attempt to prescribe what size soft drink residents can purchase is a ridiculous, but very telling, example.
Can Independence Day truly be observed without subscribing to the principles which it commemorates?
Frank V. Vernuccio, Jr., J.D. is the editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government, and the author and voice of the syndicated “Minute Report for America” radio feature. He co-hosts the “Vernuccio/Allison Report” radio show. He has served in both Democrat and Republican administrations at the state and local level in New York, notably leading the Manhattan branch of the Workers Compensation Board in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack.