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The death of government

By Bruce Walker
web posted October 18, 2010

Government has gotten a bad name among conservatives.  There is far too much government in our lives.  Government regulates the light bulbs we can use, the process of hiring employees, the licenses which businesses need to operate, and, of course, the mammoth monster of public debt and taxes which have reached such surreal levels that each American – man, woman, senior citizen, and infant – owes a mind-numbing $44,000 of federal debt.  Each day we are bombarded with photo-ops of our president or his family, or with the president's speeches against certain offending classes of Americans, like the Chamber of Commerce or Fox News.

We know, though, that some, modest government is necessary for a healthy, civil society.  In the midst of an ocean of meaningless or malicious mischief, the government of our nation has died.  Consider Charles Krauthammer's withering dissection of the federal budgetary process.  For the first time since the Budget Act of 1974, Congress has not passed a budget.  Political parties have often played chicken with the federal budget process, but no one dreamed that the budget could simply be dispensed with entirely – until now. 

Congress has not even passed an appropriations bill.  Instead, our federal government is operating entirely through the constitutionally dubious and wholly irresponsible vehicle of continuing resolutions.  Congress and the President are, essentially, ignoring the Constitution and ignoring the legal process of the federal government.  As Krauthammer observes, when global confidence in our federal fiscal and budgetary systems is at a critically low level, the proper and clear guidance of a budget is vital. 

That was, in many ways, the problem with Obamacare.  It was not an horrific bill passed over specific complaints from many critics.  Obamacare was, instead, a huge, messy glop of text which no one had read and which no one even pretended to fully understand.  Bismarck warned about the messiness of making laws, but the Iron Chancellor of Imperial Germany did not dream of simply taking a ream of blank paper, with the only writing on the first page, and asking the Reichstag to vote on the bill.   Even the cardboard figures of the Supreme Soviet of the old USSR voted on actual language which its members had a chance to read.  The surreal machinations before Obamacare passed in which Nancy Pelosi pondered having the House of Representatives to have "deemed passed" language which the House, in fact, had never voted on is not bad government:  it is no government.   

The decision of the Holder Justice Department not to prosecute New Black Panther Party members who are engaged in blatant voter intimidation is another perfect example of simply having no government at all – the facts of the case were clear, the room for prosecutorial discretion nil, and the duty to act was unqualified.  Yet Eric Holder just pretended that he was not the Attorney General of the United States.  Or consider the decision of the Holder Justice Department to sue Arizona for enforcing with state resources federal laws which Washington will not enforce.  Among the first duties of government are impartial enforcement of the laws and the protection of borders. When those duties are simply ignored, then it is not so much that we have bad government as that we have no government. 

An absolute duty of government is to protect us from those who would harm us.  This protection is, in many ways, the heart of government.  President Obama simply has no plan, no policy, and no guiding principles to implement this first duty of government.  Iran is in the process of developing the sort of doomsday weapons which reduce any president's option to a few, grim choices.  But Obama does nothing.  He is not implementing bad policies; he is implementing no policies.  It is fair to say that the governance of America, in many areas, would be exactly the same if Barack Obama was simply a holograph which regularly kissed his wife, talked vaguely about global values,    

This is a process which began with Bill Clinton, who was constantly campaigning but almost never really governing.  But even Clinton, who served many years as Governor of Arkansas before becoming president, grasped the basic rudiments of governing.  Barack Obama, whose entire life has been enveloped by the sort of radical ideology which is only one baby step from full-blown nihilism, seems to rebel against the very notion of governance.  As a consequence of this man-child in the White House, we are a headless nation in very dangerous times.  Men like FDR gave us, often, bad government.  Barry Obama gives us the death of government. ESR

Bruce Walker is the author of a new book Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life.

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