Normally these columns highlight the fact that something bad has occurred in American politics; in recent years, something usually relating to federal spending, privacy, government surveillance, loss of individual liberty, erosion of Second Amendment rights -- come to think of it, most everything this Administration does.
This week, however, something’s different. There’s a slight whiff of optimism in the air; not a lot mind you, but enough to justify sitting up and taking notice. After years of being buffeted by government’s relentless drive to increase its own size, scope, cost and power, there is some evidence the tide may be turning; or if not turning, at least beginning to negotiate such a maneuver.
Last week in this column, I wrote about a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (commonly known as “ICE,” a branch of the Department of Homeland Security) to build a national database for tracking license plates, using data collected mostly by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Several other notable voices in the liberty movement also covered this dangerous program, helping to rally the voices of millions of Americans against its implementation. Within days of first being proposed, DHS announced it was scrapping the program.
“The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled,” said ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen with a straight face. Removing the veneer of bureaucratese that invariably disguises reality when government officials speak, what she really said was, “We’re sorry we got caught.”
But that wasn’t the only good news last week. A controversial program hatched by the Federal Communications Commission, which would have placed federal “monitors” in newsrooms across the country sniffing out “media bias,” also received the axe after being proposed. Like DHS, the FCC was on the receiving end of severe criticism from prominent privacy advocates like Judge Andrew Napolitano, and even one of its own, sitting commissioners! The FCC apparently has decided – at least for now -- the fight wasn’t worth it, and backed-down. Regrettably, the Commission already had wasted more than a half-million taxpayer dollars greasing the skids for the program’s implementation.
It is not simply a few small victories in the press, or an occasional constitutionally-correct decision rendered by a lone judge, which are becoming small but bright points of light beginning to shine in the long, dark tunnel of government power.
What is stirring a slight but very palpable sense of optimism is seeing a growing number of young people fighting back against the Big Government juggernaut -- a frightening vehicle that has accelerated markedly since Obama first raised his hand and mislead the American people into believing he actually was a supporter of the Constitution to which he swore feigned allegiance.
Just this past weekend, for example, a report surfaced about the rise of significant numbers of young, liberty-minded conservatives. In particular, the article focused on Young Americans for Liberty, an organization for young adults who seek to restore the Constitution in American politics, by electing pro-liberty candidates to office. “We are just getting started,” YAL Executive Director Jeff Frazee told US News. “Our hope is to raise between $10,000 and $50,000 per candidate.”
Polling indicates that groups like YAF could not come at a more opportune time. Attacks on America’s fundamental freedoms occur with increasing frequency, as Obama settles into his role as a second-term Commander-in-Chief unburdened by even a fig leaf of constitutional respect. Making matters worse is the near complete absence of constitutional push back from most members of Congress and the Department of Justice.
Yet, liberty is also in danger on college campuses as well -- a crucial ecosystem of knowledge where students often develop their first meaningful political identities. When schools try to manipulate this self-exploration, such as banning the distributions of pocket Constitutions on Constitution Day (a special thanks to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for intervening), they become dangerous battlegrounds for the minds of these students rather than a toolshed from which students identify and learn to wield intellectual principles objectively.
Fortunately, many students are fighting back against such bullying administrations, just as other Americans are fighting back against a bully government.
Recent victories over onerous government programs show progress is being won. Importantly, polls are showing that these new “liberty voters” tend overwhelmingly to favor Republican candidates. Ronald Reagan completed his final term in office before many of these voters were even born, but it is his vision and understanding of Liberty that guides them; even if they don’t remember its author.