Rich Tucker

If you don’t like the secretary’s decision, you can’t vote her out of office. Perhaps you can convince your member of Congress to schedule a hearing and rail at her. But that won’t change anything. And even if there’s a hearing, the bureaucrats who made the actual decisions can always refuse to testify, as former IRS official Lois Lerner has done.

Even the president’s influence over the bureaucracy is sharply limited. It’s not simply that the president repeatedly insists he’s not involved in actions taken by the executive branch.

Recall that, when Hillary Clinton took over as Secretary of State, careerists there welcomed her with a rousing reception. It’s nice to like your boss, of course, but these bureaucrats were less than supportive of former President Bush’s foreign policy. Voters cannot force the bureaucracy to go along with our preferences if we vote the "wrong" way.

This isn’t the way our federalist system was designed to work. As recently as 1962, President John F. Kennedy said: "Our system and our freedom permit the legislative to be pitted against the executive, the State against the Federal Government, the city against the countryside, party against party, interest against interest, all in competition or in contention one with another."

A generation later, Americans were still being taught that they lived under representative government. See the famed Schoolhouse Rock "How a Bill Becomes a Law" segment in the 1970s.

Not today. Constitutional expert Joe Postell describes the current administrative state as a government "in which the authority to make public policy is unlimited, centralized, and delegated to unelected bureaucrats." And that form of government, unconstitutionally, often combines all three functions of government: legislative, executive and judicial power, rolled into one. The people have no effective recourse.

"To govern is to choose," President Kennedy said in that 1962 speech. Today, we’re certainly being governed. But our elected leaders seem to have little power to choose much at all. That’s not a tenable situation.


Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for Townhall.com.