American exceptionalism—recently misrepresented and dismissed by Russian President Putin—stems from our founding on a set of principles. Our Founders understood government power is inherently corrupting. They sought to create a government focused on upholding a few basic laws and protecting our national sovereignty; free people were supposed to be able to use their time and talents as they saw fit, knowing laws would be applied equally to all citizens.
The decline in faith in these ideas may be the most disturbing trend in American life today. Americans increasingly yawn at evidence that our government has metastasized so far beyond its constitutional limits that concepts of equality under the law and limited government are unrecognizable.
Our Internal Revenue Service singled out enemies of the Administration, from private individuals to nonprofit organizations, for abuse. The public and media shrug. The Energy Department gives billions of taxpayer dollars to select private companies, most have political ties to the President. That’s too pedestrian to interest the media or voters. The Department of Health and Human Services hands out hundreds of waivers, which can make or break a company, to the health care law that it helped crafted. Is anyone curious what process determined awardees? Apparently not. The public assumes the politically-connected won out: Big government cronyism is now standard operating procedure.
Political back-dealing has undoubtedly occurred since the dawn of our Republic. Yet until recently, we tried to limit such corruption. Americans were outraged at the idea of a President using the IRS as a political weapon; they thought politicians exchanging taxpayer-favors for campaign cash should be thrown out of office. Where has that sense of justice gone?
Here’s the problem: Big government has swallowed it up. When politicians have the power to create rules in all aspects of life and determine financial fortunes, government becomes the natural preoccupation of business and citizens.