No Ordinary Election

This is no ordinary election.
Maine, and indeed, all of America, is faced with a choice. It’s ostensibly a choice between two candidates in most cases, but the names on the ballot are merely the visible choice, the one the pundits and the anchorpeople will earn their money discussing until the early hours of November 3rd. As important is it is to vote, it is equally important to recognize that our votes are a result of a deeper choice, one that goes beyond the name on the ballot, the party, or the office. It is a personal, visceral choice that we make in the quiet, dark time between crawling into bed and drifting off to sleep, when we reflect on our place in the world.

Am I a citizen, or a subject? Will I be governed by law, or ruled by regulation?

Our current President and his allies in Congress have spent the last two years passing legislation that moves us collectively toward the latter. Everyone knows about the ill-advised Troubled Asset Relief Program, in which billions of our dollars were doled out to arbitrarily selected companies that were deemed “too big to fail.” We’ve all heard about the wild success of the Stimulus Bill, which thankfully took an 8 percent unemployment rate and made it into a much more exciting 12 percent, so that the 24 hour news channels would have something to talk about besides Miley Cyrus.

One would think that bankrupting the country with lavish spending would be enough to keep Congress busy between vacations, but Pelosi’s Wrecking Crew still had some gas in the tank. Congress has given more power to the Federal Reserve, seized control of health care only to hand it over to the director of DHHS, seized control of the auto industry and the financial services industry, which have been placed under the control of the Treasury Department through TARP. That’s just the legislation they’ve passed so far. Cap and Trade is still looming, as well as legislation that countermands the Supreme Court’s free speech decision in the Citizen’s United case. But as egregious as these moves are, they pale in comparison to what’s being done outside of Congress.

Julius Genachowski, the head of the FCC, wants to seize control of the internet by reclassifying it as a public utility-the same as a telephone-so that his agency can tell ISPs how to route their traffic, and given the FCC’s track record at regulating content, it won’t be long until they’ll tell the ISPs which websites you’re allowed to see. The FDA already decides which medicines you should be allowed access to, but now it wants to decide how much salt, fat, and sugar you should be allowed to eat. The FEC wants to decide who can and can’t exercise the right to free speech. The SEC wants to decide how much risk you can take when investing your money. The EPA wants to classify carbon dioxide, the same gas we breathe out and plants use to synthesize their food, as a toxic pollutant, so that they can tell you what kind of car to drive and replace your relatively harmless incandescent light bulbs with highly toxic CFL bulbs. The Department of Health and Human Services will soon be determining what insurance plan you should have, and then it will force you to purchase one whether you like it or not, with a little help from their friends at the Internal Revenue Service.

Citizens, or subjects?
What we say, what we eat, what we use for transportation, our opinions, and even our bodies, all subject to regulations issued by entities staffed by people no one elected. The heads of these organizations are not beholden to the people because they are not chosen by the people. These unelected rulemakers are a blatant attack on rights guaranteed by the 10th Amendment, which declares that any power not specifically given to the federal government is reserved to the states or to the people. Article 1 of the Constitution makes no mention of Congress having the power seize private companies, to tell private citizens what to eat or what to buy, or even tell the separate states how to educate children. Yet these agencies do these things on a daily basis, with the blessing of our elected representatives, and with very little outcry from the people who vote, pay taxes, and have to navigate the astonishingly broad sea of federal regulations that gets larger and larger each year.

Their directors are appointed, and the bureaucrats that support them are hired like any other public sector job. Despite the complete lack of accountability to the people, these agencies exercise an extraordinary amount of influence in our lives. While our actual elected representatives campaign, take recesses, argue incessantly about things like steroids in baseball, the real threat to our liberty creeps into our lives like mildew, silent and invisible, only showing its fetid existence when it’s too late to do anything about it. But instead of blaming the mold, we ought to look to the ones who let things become moldy in the first place. We ought to be looking at the people who think that the solution to large, incompetent, porn-surfing federal agencies like the SEC is an even larger federal agency like the Department of Homeland Security or the soon to be unveiled Consumer Financial Protection Agency, headed by another unelected official who will have broad power to tell private banks and private citizens how they can and can’t interact. Since this new agency doesn’t represent you or the banks, you won’t have any way of firing them if they end up working as hard as the SEC did before the crash. Of course, with looming tax hikes, shortfalls in Medicare and Social Security, mandated insurance purchases, and the treat of skyrocketing energy costs if Cap and Trade becomes law, you probably won’t have any money to invest anyway.

Governed or ruled? That’s the underlying question we need to answer.

We either choose legislators that will limit the size and scope of government in our lives, or we continue to choose legislators who are willing to squander their constitutional authority and ignore their obligation, under oath, to protect our individual liberty. I urge all free citizens, regardless of party affiliation, to vote out the people who would sell our sacred freedom for a salary and a pension. Let us go to the polls and remind those in power that public office means public service, and that we hold our new representatives to the oath they will take to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. We will either by governed by law or ruled by the faceless regulators in the only growth industry our nation has left. That’s the choice that we are faced with. It’s either liberty, or captivity; there is no third choice.
I, for one, will choose liberty.