David Harsanyi
For all the complaining the left has done about those shadowy outside political groups subverting the democratic process, we recently learned that no one has the means to undercut freedom of expression quite like an enthusiastic government agency.

Appropriately, nearly everyone in Washington is professing and/or pretending to be outraged that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups. Yet if we're to believe recent polls, an uninformed President Barack Obama (similarly outraged as he watches events unfold on the news) hasn't shouldered much of the blame for scandalmania just yet -- and perhaps he may never be damaged.

And so what? Though the president's fate seems to be the paramount concern of the leftist punditry (a group that now argues that any "real" scandal is only one in which the president had personal knowledge of misconduct in real time -- meaning, one supposes, that Abu Ghraib should be retroactively reclassified as a non-scandal for George W. Bush), it matters not. Even with an adoring public, the chances of Obama's pushing through any substantive legislation before 2014 -- or even 2016 -- were slim at best. Those poll-ignoring obstructionists in the House will see to it.

The president won't be running for re-election, but progressivism will. And the most vital element of Obama's agenda, no matter where any of these investigations lead, has already taken a big hit -- and that's the electorate's trust in government.

A recent Pew Research Center poll has found that only 26 percent of Americans trust government to make the right decisions, with 73 percent having little confidence in government. A very recent Fox News poll found that about two-thirds of voters feel the government is "out of control and threatening their civil liberties." Those people have it just mostly right, because government isn't exactly "out of control." The problem is that it has too much control over too many aspects of the political process (among other things).

Though it's imperative to get to the bottom of the Justice Department's attacks on the First Amendment, the Benghazi situation and the IRS' attack on free speech -- for most people, the most tangible and comprehensible of all the recent scandals -- it is also imperative to point out the conditions that make this kind of abuse possible. The raison d'etre of the Obama era, ultimately, has been to convince you that government is trustworthy. It isn't.

David Harsanyi

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist and the author of "The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy." Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.