If you could change one thing about Washington, D.C., what would it be?
Corruption? Debt? Regulations? You may be shocked to learn that Americans from across the political spectrum answer this question in much the same way: “How can I choose just one?!”
The national government of today would be barely recognizable to the Americans who drafted and ratified our Constitution. They understood human nature, were astute students of history, and had just fought a bloody war to free themselves and their families from the abuses of a greedy, callous government, in which too much power was concentrated in the hands of too few. Sound familiar?
We haven’t just been subjected to a parade of self-serving politicians making a succession of bad laws. Rather, we’ve witnessed the steady, deliberate dismantling of the foundational principles upon which our liberty was secured: principles specifically designed to protect WE THE PEOPLE from those who would take away our voice and undermine our freedoms. Such individuals always claim to be well-intentioned. Some, maybe even most, are; but more and more, we are experiencing the disastrous consequences of government officials who believe they are entitled to substitute their judgment for ours as they routinely overstep their constitutional limits.
The legislative, judicial, and executive branches, intended to check and balance one another, now enable one another in their quest for power. As a nation, we have lost sight of the fact that the states were meant to play an important role in our system of checks and balances. Today, they have been essentially reduced to field offices of the national government, as more and more decision-making authority originally reserved for WE THE PEOPLE, both directly and acting through our state legislatures, has been usurped by Washington.
Federal courts have played an active role in expanding the power of the national government. The Supreme Court has openly admitted that Washington now engages in activities that would have been “unimaginable to the framers,” and claims that the only limit on its power is its “own good judgment.” Meanwhile, most Americans have come to believe that factors like money, race, and politics have edged out principles like “innocent until proven guilty” and “equal protection under the law.” The courts have yet to put a stop to decades of flagrant, systemic due-process abuses by agencies like the DEA, DOJ, and IRS. Our prisons hold thousands of non-violent offenders serving life without parole: longer than some rapists and murderers.
Congress regularly abdicates its lawmaking responsibility to federal agencies, so politicians can take credit or shift blame as is politically expedient. Many of these unaccountable bureaucrats face no consequences for incompetence or wrongdoing. This subverts a key feature of the design of our participatory government: our Constitution stipulates that our laws should only be made by those who stand accountable to WE THE PEOPLE on a regular and frequent basis through elections.
The reason it’s so difficult to identify just one or two problems in Washington is because these systemic breakdowns have allowed political insiders to behave in so many different outrageous ways, like:
excusing themselves and their friends from the laws the rest of us must obey;
funneling taxpayer dollars to family members, business associates, and big donors;
disadvantaging small businesses and interfering with consumer choice by rigging regulations and tax codes;
weaponizing government agencies like the IRS against innocent Americans to achieve political ends;
taking vulnerable citizens, such as disaster victims and schoolchildren, as political hostages to unpopular initiatives that couldn’t pass on their own merits;
driving spending & debt to unsustainable levels that imperil our economic stability & national
gerrymandering legislative districts, disenfranchising voters, buying votes, and otherwise delegitimizing and interfering with the right of American citizens to participate in free and fair elections.
But it’s important to remember that these are just symptoms…it’s the systemic problems, the constitutional short cuts and the concentration of power in Washington, that are the real problems.