If the last month has taught us anything, it’s that elections don’t have consequences. Congressional elections don’t anyway. One would like to say that the Republican leadership played dead, but sadly, they weren’t playing. The truth is that, although there are a (very) few good men holding elective office, it’s not enough. From the NDAA to the tax increases, from the debt ceiling to balanced budgets, Republicans have time and again demonstrated that they are unwilling to reign in the behemoth that is the federal government. Even many of “the good ones” have proven themselves unreliable. There is as yet very little to suggest that picking off the odd incumbent in a primary can change that situation. It’s time for a new approach.
There are 535 Congressmen in what is one of the most exclusive clubs in the country. They live in their bubble, even shielding themselves from many of the laws they pass that apply to the rest of us. They justify to each other, with the help of lobbyists and big government Washingtonians, the overbearing and larcenous behavior commonly known as the status quo. To carry out their feel good create bad agenda, they need a nationwide network of bureaucrats and bullies. Employees of the various alphabet soup agencies make it their business to make everything their business, bragging about their success up the government’s version of the corporate ladder so that their respective agencies can tell Congress why they need more money to carry out these “essential” functions the following year. They are, to be sure, “just following orders”.
Times being what they are, one could easily understand individuals taking jobs that they don’t especially like (who doesn’t at some point) and executing policies without giving them a second thought. They’re simply enforcing the law (okay, so not legitimate law, but regulations passed by unconstitutional agencies. That’s an entirely different discussion). Besides, if they don’t do the jobs, someone else will.
In the course of “just following orders”, these people destroy businesses that have taken decades of blood, sweat and tears to build, eviscerate jobs that keep communities vibrant, and even stop people from using their own private property in ways that do no harm to others. In some cases, they do so with guns and violence. In others, they use financial and regulatory weapons. Perhaps worst of all, they use intimidation, the notion that no matter what, the unlimited resources of the government will always prevail over the individual or small business. Let’s call it what it is: terrorism.
Well, it’s time for a new, non-violent war on terror.
Rather than focusing on the top-down approach that simply hasn’t worked, it is time to change matters from the bottom up. No longer can people act as though it is okay for their friends and relatives to do the dirty work of destroying America by executing the orders from Washington, DC, or, in some cases, state and city governments for that matter. It is time to take a stand. If you know people working for these agencies, find out more about what they and their organizations do. If they serve a legitimate function and act responsibly and fairly, so be it. If not, try to get them to understand that it is unconscionable for them to make their livelihood by destroying the ability of others to do so.
As for other instances, it is time for communities to restore some good old-fashioned shame. This can and should be used wholesale for certain organizations – starting with the EPA and IRS – and in specific instances of abuse with others. For too long, Americans have focused solely on politicians when the greater opportunity for change lies in dealing with the people executing their destructive policies.
Let’s start by making examples of the most egregious violators of rights. Kellie Helleson should be a household name. For those of you who don’t know, Helleson is the Texas Trooper who conducted a pair of roadside cavity searches during a routine traffic stop. If you haven’t already watched the video, be sure to do so, and to show it to anybody who questions whether the US could become (is?) a police state. The case is now headed to the Dallas County District Attorney.
While it’s certainly a good thing that the legal system will run its course, that’s simply not enough. In this case, as well as other egregious abuses of power physical or otherwise, citizens in Helleson’s community should have made her life miserable. They should have held protests outside her house and her precinct. A volunteer community watch should have been put out to film her while she was on duty. Letters and phone calls should have flooded into her boss’s office demanding that she be fired. Stores and restaurants should have refused her business. Flyers should have been hand delivered to every house in her jurisdiction warning people to beware of the rogue Trooper. In short, Helleson should have been ostracized to the point that she wanted to leave her community. The same should be done in other cases where a government employee clearly abuses his or her power. Such a response would necessarily have a chilling effect on that kind of behavior, making government employees think twice before acting that way.
After having dealt with the most egregious instances of abuse, citizens could keep going, employee after employee, abuse after abuse, agency after agency, until the government is reigned in to something close to what was originally intended. In the process, the excessive, overbearing role of government would be exposed, policy by policy, one destructive regulation after another, until enough people come to understand just how destructive the government had become and how much better things are when it gets out of the way. We would restore a culture of freedom and strengthen communities by getting the government out of the way of social bonds.