Diana West

It rankles. I don't think Americans will ever forget this president for using the 2013 budget battle shutdown - the 18th in three decades -- to lower booms and erect "keep out" signs all over the country just as though he owns it. It started at the World War II Memorial, where our veterans have been barricaded out of the open-air plaza they fought for and even built, since much of the private funds that constructed it came from veterans groups. From that symbolic spot on the Washington Mall -- where, also symbolically, illegal aliens have received special privileges as when an "amnesty" rally on the National Mall was permitted to proceed despite the shutdown -- a New Obama Order has taken shape. Unexpectedly, this federal flexing has been most visibly enforced by a thuggish National Park Service (NPS).

Incredibly, we have now seen NPS, in the name of the shutdown, block access to everything from 1,100 square miles of prime fishing in Florida Bay to scenic overlooks along the Potomac River. We've seen kids prevented from practicing soccer on a field deemed "the government's," and the privately run, privately staffed Claude Moore Colonial Farm shuttered (though it finally reopened just this morning), both in McLain, Va. We've seen the NPS drop orange road cones to prevent drivers from pulling over to catch a glimpse of Mount Rushmore; tourists hustled out of Yellowstone by NPS and ordered not to snap pictures of bison on their way out (no "recreating" allowed in a shutdown). We've seen "barrycades" go up around the famed geyser Old Faithful to obstruct the view from a nearby lodge. Walking through Rock Creek Park, the national parkland in Washington, D.C., I've seen a massive concrete barrier, courtesy of the NPS, blocking access to a tiny parking lot (four slots) adjacent to a foot trail through the woods.

Since when is the manpower required to block four parking spaces by the woods considered an "essential" government service? Since rubbing the nation's face in the shutdown became the president's policy. It's little wonder, then, that Twitter has taken to calling the White House the "Spite House." From such petty tyrannies -- look out.

Fortunately, the answer lies in the very next lines in Reagan's 1981 Inaugural address: "Our government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed."


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).



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