Editor’s note: For TheBlaze Magazine's new cover story, our own Meredith Jessup took a look a the scandals swirling around the Obama administration and what they really mean for the nation.
Outside of their potential criminality and/or questionable legality, what do the IRS's abuse of conservatives, the NSA's spying on Americans, the DOJ's abuse of the press, the murder of a U.S. ambassador in Benghazi and myriad other controversies (and, no, we haven't forgotten about Fast & Furious) have in common?
Jessup explains how the many scandals are revealing to Americans that following the out-of-control, Big Government progressive road is a threat to liberty.
But there's good news: This is a chance for lovers of freedom to take down the agenda of those who have historically rejected the truth behind the Constitution and the genius of our Founding Fathers.
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Below are a few short excerpts from the July/August 2013 cover story, “Path to Tyranny.” Get the full story only in the newest issue of TheBlaze Magazine.
With clouds of scandal hanging over the White House, many of President Obama’s detractors are eagerly waiting for a shift in political winds.
As more details emerge about the administration’s response to the Benghazi terror attacks, the Justice Department’s eavesdropping on the press, the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative organizations and the National Security Agency’s expansive domestic surveillance efforts, Republicans look forward to a precipitous decline in the president’s public approval ratings.
But the implications of these new scandals (and several old ones, too) go far beyond spoiling one man’s political legacy. Such abuses of power and negligent leadership in bureaucratic agencies across the administration have exposed the inherent dangers of Big Government and laid bare progressivism’s menacing threat to America’s future.
THE PROBLEMS OF BIG GOVERNMENT
In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned for president with the goal of ushering in an era of 21st century progressivism. Recent national crises in the housing market, the financial collapse and ensuing economic recession set the stage for Obama’s ascent, and he worked overtime to convince Americans that government could be their problem-solver, as it supposedly had been in the days of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.
“Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans,” Obama announced during his first Inaugural address. “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works.”
With a mission to rehabilitate the image of Big Government, Obama rapidly increased the size and scope of the federal bureaucracy with policy “victories,” including an $800 billion stimulus plan, promises of an economy driven by green energy and his divisive health-care law. Regardless of the fact that the unemployment rate continued to climb, bailed-out automakers continued to underperform, subsidized green energy firms went bankrupt and Obamacare is less popular than ever, Obama’s embrace of Big Government opened the door to something much worse.
Conservatives have long warned about the dangers of such government expansion, and the Obama administration’s recent tangle of scandals illustrates those fears, effectively demonstrating how Big Government lends itself to an abhorrent abuse of power.
The irony for Obama — someone who has pledged allegiance to Big Government — is that the purported distance separating him from these scandals simultaneously exposes the inherent flaws in his primary governing philosophy.
THE FOG OF BUREAUCRACY: “Horrible customer service.” That’s the way outgoing IRS chief Steven Miller characterized his agency’s targeting of conservative groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. “I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selections,” he said.
The Internal Revenue Service’s admitted targeting of Tea Party and other similar groups shows how the growth of America’s regulatory state blurs the lines of responsibility in governing. David Axelrod, Obama’s own top advisor, admitted as much during a recent appearance on MSNBC. “Part of being president is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast,” Axelrod explained.
The implication here is that the government has gotten so big that low-level bureaucrats can freely use their entrusted authority to pursue personal and political agendas without question. Hence, Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency is under investigation for playing favorites with so-called “green” groups over conservative groups seeking public information. Higher up the executive food chain, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is on a personal crusade to pressure businesses into paying for the implementation of the president’s health-care law, and she and EPA administrator Lisa Jackson purposefully circumvented federal records laws by sending and receiving email messages through dummy accounts.
THE GROWING REGULATORY STATE: The greatest threat posed by Big Government today has little to do with partisanship or political ideology — it has to do with human nature.
While Barack Obama encourages people to “reject” any notion that “tyranny is always lurking just around the corner,” the Founding Fathers knew better. They specifically designed a system of diffused power to counteract man’s inherent hunger for power; a system where checks and balances would neutralize special interests and transparency would ensure accountability to voters.
In “Federalist No. 51,” James Madison wrote: “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?”
But in his tenure, President Obama has rejected the warnings of Madison and other Founders, repeatedly sidestepping established constitutional order. Instead, Obama’s “good intentions” always outweigh such constraints.
THE LEADERSHIP VACUUM: No evidence has been provided thus far that President Obama personally directed the IRS to target his political opponents or asked the DOJ to secretly snoop on reporters at the Associated Press or Fox News. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t played a central role in these scandals.
In a regulatory system entrusted with so much authority, a president’s leadership style serves as a major factor in setting the tone for the executive branch as a whole. When trust and power are so concentrated, the objective duties of regulators, intelligence personnel and law-enforcement officers become malleable to the politically correct agenda of the day. In this case, that agenda included protecting Obama’s progressive policies and undermining perceived threats to his carefully crafted public persona.
Despite handing down no “official” IRS directive to target Tea Partiers, the president’s vocal disdain for such groups and their ideals lends an unofficial endorsement to the agency’s improper behavior.
THE PROBLEM OF PROGRESSIVISM
A reliance on an expansive central government is key to Barack Obama’s governing strategy and strongly driven by his staunch progressive political ideology. With the ultimate goal of instilling faith in Big Government to solve society’s problems, today’s scandals also pose significant challenges for his second-term agenda.
Speaking to a crowd of graduates at Ohio State University just days before the firestorm of recent scandals erupted, Obama downplayed skepticism in government.
“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works,” he said. “They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.”
“You should reject these voices,” he urged, “because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.”
According to Obama’s progressive ideology, government of, by and for the people cannot become tyrannical because the government is the people. Reject warnings of tyranny, he says, because a self-governing people would surely never tyrannize themselves.
This is a theme he’s repeated throughout campaign seasons and policy speeches. He insists that there’s “nothing we can’t do” through government action if we just invest our faith in it. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” he says, and we can “provide care for the sick” and “get good jobs to the homeless” — if only those darn obstructionist conservatives would get out of his way.
The Bill of Rights was drafted to constrain the government with a cautious assumption of guilt. As a result, the government is expressly prohibited from infringing on the rights of its citizens, regardless how benevolent or justified its claims may seem. But modern progressives and their partiality toward group identity over individual rights necessitates that the “outdated” Constitution must yield to the evolving demands of societal progress. This common thread ties together each of the administration’s current scandals and many of its most controversial policies.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR CONSERVATIVES
The brewing scandals and Obama’s fondness for Big Government aren’t just about an entrenched, entitled political class shielding its unearned power and privilege from accountability, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, recently wrote in an op-ed at FoxNews.com. “They’re frankly also about the Republican Party’s own enablement of that power and privilege, and our failure to effectively advance and apply the conservative principles that would protect the country from their abuse.”
“The Founders knew that, over time, either the people would control the government or the government would control the people,” Lee wrote. “That’s why they bequeathed to us a constitutionally limited government. … The way to keep it is not to demonize Barack Obama, but to expose the truth about the dangers of progressivism.”
... Will the country embrace the arrogance and fear of “hope and change,” or will voters see the failed ideas driving these scandals and take action to reverse America’s descent into democratic despotism?
What can conservatives do? What is the true extent of these scandals? Is there hope? Get the whole report on the scandals and the threat of progressivism only in the pages of the July/August 2013 issue of TheBlaze Magazine.