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The same IRS that once targeted conservatives might be handing them the key to victory in the 2014 midterms and beyond.
At a heated congressional hearing on June 20, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appeared before the Ways & Means Committee to answer for Lois Lerner’s missing emails.
I say “answer” loosely. Koskinen blatantly refused to apologize for the missing emails (which in all likelihood contain incriminating evidence), and in one particularly notable encounter with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) denied any wrongdoing.
“I don’t believe you,” Ryan said afterward.
Americans have similar feelings.
A whopping 76 percent of Americans believe that Lerner’s emails regarding the targeting of conservative groups were deliberately destroyed. Respondents self-identified their political affiliation and showed that Americans’ misgivings are bipartisan - 74 percent of independents and 63 percent of Democrats reported that they too believe the emails were destroyed intentionally.
Their suspicions are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, especially when one takes into consideration all of the oh-so-convenient hard drive crashes occurring all around Washington.
Americans’ palpable cynicism about their government caused Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) to write in a June 25 op-ed about the hearing:
“Today, the American people do not trust their government. In a 2013 Gallup poll, a historic 81 percent of Americans stated they feel they can trust government to do what is right ‘only some of the time or never.’ I don’t blame them. Today when Americans turn on their televisions, they can hardly escape coverage of Executive Branch agencies run amok, riddled with incompetence, and desperately backpedaling in an attempt to cover their tracks.”
As I read Boustany’s article, it struck me how Americans really don’t have a reason to trust their government, especially when the aforementioned “Executive Branch” officials are behaving like children telling their teachers “the dog ate my homework.”
Then I realized that for conservatives, this could be a blessing in disguise. The same IRS that once targeted conservatives might be handing them the key to victory in the 2014 midterms and beyond. If Americans don’t have a reason to trust their government, they could be the party that gives them one.
You see, nobody likes the IRS.
Paul Ryan, like many Americans, just can't believe that the IRS lost two years worth of emails from at least seven employees. Photo Credit: AP
As Ryan pointed out in the hearing, the IRS is so powerful that with just “a phone call, an email, or a letter” average hardworking Americans “could have their lives turned upside down.”
For a party (at least factions of it) that spends so much time talking about the size and scope of government, government overreach, and the dangers of a government that has just grown too large, here is a cold, hard example of the consequences of what happens when Washington has too much power.
These very groups who were targeted – ones who have words in their names like “Tea Party” or “patriot” – have a vital role to play in both upcoming election cycles. These groups need to make sure their voices are heard, and no American citizen is ever subjected to the same scrutiny.
Americans are forced to live in fear of an agency that mandates they keep seven years of their records when it can’t be bothered to keep six months of its own. Somehow, I imagine saying, “Sorry, my hard drive crashed,” when IRS agents come knocking would not work out for me.
Unfortunately, it seems to be working for them.
Republicans should leverage the IRS targeting scandal in the 2014 midterm elections and the upcoming 2016 Presidential election. (AP Photo/The Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer, File)
Polling indicates that 74 percent of Americans believe the IRS should be investigated “until someone is held accountable.” This is a winning issue candidates can - and should - capitalize on.
A conservative candidate, running for a Senate seat in one of 12 battleground states this fall, should speak frequently about the dangers of IRS targeting, citing specific examples from a plethora of political targeting cases (samples here, here, and here). He or she should speak about how a government agency that would target Americans for their political beliefs should not exist – maybe even that they agree with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that the IRS should be abolished.
The candidate should then speak about how it is not just conservatives who should be worried, but all of us. If they are subject to this, so are we.
Then the candidate could simply look at the voters and say, “this is unacceptable.”
Because it is unacceptable that a nation built on free speech, the free expression of beliefs and ideas, and equal participation by every citizen should live in fear of being audited for speaking their mind. A corrupt, narcissistic government who would target Americans simply for disagreeing with them is the antithesis of the nation our Founders sought to give us.
If a candidate is able to ride this wave of frustration into Washington, then the same corrupt IRS that targeted conservatives will have played a role in helping them win back the Senate.
But President Barack Obama assured us that there is “not a smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS. So it clearly must be incompetence.
Americans deserve better than an incompetent government. I just hope they know it.
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