It seems that with every election, America's entrenched political class becomes even more entrenched, and it's easier then ever to let a feeling of futility sink in. Is there anything we can do to stop the out-of-control train of abuse and corruption that is our federal (and in too many cases, our state and local) government? In our representative democracy, we like to think that we have power - government of, by, and for the people
- yet more and more it seems that we just suffer under an illusion
of power. We vote, but our vote doesn't really count.
For too many, the way out of this conundrum is the easy slide: just stay home on Election Day. Every day, people ask, what can I do? My vote doesn't matter, so why vote at all?
But there is a much more productive option:
Just say NO!
It is becoming ever clearer that incumbency is one of the greatest threats to freedom in our nation today. The general assumption by too many members of Congress is that there is no problem, great or small, that cannot be solved by passing a new law...and these days, we don't even need Congress for that, since several federal agencies have evolved the power to create and implement new laws with no input from Congress at all.
One of the most confusing phenomena in American politics is how, when Congress's approval ratings have been so low for so long
, we end up with so many of the same people running the show year after year. Just for fun, let's call this "The Incumbency Paradox." Its cause can basically be summed up like this: "I hate Congress, but I love my Congressman."
There are other factors, of course, such as gerrymandering, The Voting Dead, busing the ambivalent and the ignorant to the polls and telling them how to vote, or just outright voter intimidation, which in the Obama/Holder era of racial harmony, is no longer a prosecutable offense
, and various other forms of voter fraud that are ignored by the elected officials who benefited from it.
But let's stick with what we, as legal voters, can control: our own vote.
As time goes on, I find myself becoming more and more of a single-issue voter, though not in the way that single-issue voters have traditionally been defined.
For me, the single overriding issue that colors my voting decisions is Freedom. Our Founding Fathers set up a Constitutional Republic built on a platform of freedom - and the story of America has been the story of the spread of freedom, from the fight to free the colonies from a tyrannical monarchy, to the fight to free the slaves, to granting voting rights to women and minorities, allowing economic freedom for entrepreneurs, and opportunities for economic mobility virtually without precedent in the history of our planet. When I look at a law, whether it's on the ballot for my personal vote, or before Congress or the Senate, I ask myself, "Does this make me more free, or less free?" When I look at a candidate for office, I ask myself, "Will this person's values and positions make me more free, or less free?"
There is a saying that used to be ingrained in the American dialect: "It's a free country." People could do things that were unseemly, or even offensive, and if you didn't like it, well, "it's a free country." People could take risks, and if you didn't think that was wise, well, "it's a free country."
But that phrase doesn't get the play that it once did. It's fairly rare to hear it used nowadays, primarily because it isn't true anymore.
A lot of people these days, especially on the Right, complain about President Obama's use of Executive Orders to usurp Congress's authority to create laws, but the truth is that Congress has been handing its own power over to the Executive Branch for nearly half a century.
Consider this: the EPA, which was created by Congress in 1970, is preparing to implement its proposed re-definition of what it calls "The Waters of the United States," or, to the layman, what waters the EPA has the power to regulate under the Clean Water Act, which was originally passed in 1972. The EPA's proposed re-definition of "The Waters of the United States" would give the agency unprecedented power to regulate land use across America. This 45-year-old government agency is seeking to use a 43-year-old law to grant itself powers that our federal government was never meant to have.
Or consider actions that the FCC took just a few months ago. The FCC board, which is composed of five un-elected members (appointed by the President), used Title II of the 1934 Communications Act (which was written to allow the FCC to regulate telephone companies) to grant itself authority to regulate broadband Internet providers. In a free country, bureaucrats can't just use an 81 year old law to grant itself powers the law was never intended for.
Right now, the Republicans in charge of Congress are pushing hard to pass a trade bill that has been kept secret throughout the legislative process. Only President Obama (presumably) and those members of Congress who have actually taken the time to read the bill (presumably) actually know what is in the bill - if that can even be known without consulting scores of legal experts, given how laws tend to be written these days. So instead of standing up to protect the freedoms of their constituents, our elected "representatives" are working to push through a trade bill without even letting their constituents know what they are voting on. In fact, the process has been so secretive that the American people aren't even allowed to know which members of Congress have viewed the bill
. For the most part, it is not the new guys - the "fresh blood," so to speak, who are pushing for this law. It is the incumbents, the career politicians, the ones who have defined their careers around maintaining their political power - even if that means using a secret bill to cater to their special interest cronies over standing up for the rights of the people who elected them.
Thankfully, Democrats and conservative Republicans came together to defeat the measure, but that doesn't stop President Obama or the political elite from trying something like this again in the future.
We used to be a free country, but today people cheer when the president says he will usurp power from Congress. Massive power grabs by the federal government are met with a shrug, while those who speak out for the protection of our Constitutional freedoms are derided as "extremists."
Joseph Dee Morrissey, born September 23, 1957, is an American politician and lawyer from Henrico, Virginia. Formerly as a Democrat, he served as Commonwealth's Attorney of Richmond, Virginia 1989?93 and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in November 2007. | Photo: Archives |
When Rand Paul
stood up to speak out against the massive violation of Americans' Fourth Amendment rights by the NSA, he was criticized for playing on peoples' paranoia, or just putting on a publicity stunt for his presidential campaign. None of the criticism changes the fact, however, that the NSA's data collection program represents a blatant violation of Americans' Constitutionally protected rights...but in today's world, in a government where each and every elected official's power is derived by the Constitution of the United States, standing up for that very same Constitution is
an extreme position, if only because too many of our politicians have sold out our freedoms in the name of their own power.
We live in such a tangled web of federal, state, and local laws, it's hard to find any place in America that is free anymore. Just look around you. I can guarantee you that within your sight or on your person is something that is regulated by some level of government. Even if you were to hide in one of the most remote areas of our nation, there is no way to fully escape government regulation in our modern society. Even little kids' lemonade stands
are regulated by the government. It's government of the corrupt, by the corrupt, for the corrupt, and it's the law-abiding citizens who get the shaft.
The 2016 elections will soon be upon us. So far, there are 26 Republican candidates who have either declared their candidacy for president, or have exploratory committees. Most of the big names in the race are politicians seeking higher office. There are a dozen Democrats who have declared or are exploring. THE big name, Hillary Clinton, is one of the most corrupt politicians in modern America. Your Congressman will be up for election, and at least one of your Senators may be, as well.
As you look at each of the candidates running for election over the next year, examine them through the lens of freedom. Will their philosophy make you more free, or less? How long have they been in politics? Will their dependence on the perpetuation of their own power make you more free, or less? Has your Representative or your Senator become beholden to special interests, or been swayed into voting with party leadership and against your freedom? If so, the time has come to vote against that person. Various politicians have spoken out over the years about how they want to shake things up in Washington, but that will never happen as long as we perpetually vote for the incumbents who have become too secure in their own power. It takes a movement of the people to bring about real change, and it is high time that the American people take a stand for freedom. So vote against your Senator. Vote against your Congressman. Send the entrenched career politicians a message that they are not to be secure in their power any longer. Make a stand for your own freedom.
Just say no.